My Name Is Yoon by Helen Recorvits

Picture Book Around the World: Reading Through Korea I’m working hard on my Picture Book Around the World sequel to Picture Book Preschool, my preschool read aloud curriculum for homeschooling your preschooler or kindergartner. This week at Semicolon, we’re going to be visiting Korea through the medium of a treasure trove of picture books featuring that country and its children.

“I write my name in English now. It still means Shining Wisdom.”

Yoon, newly arrived in the United States with her family from Korea, doesn’t want to write her name in English letters with all their circles and lines and sharp cornersand lack of continuity. She wants her name to be written in Korean: “My name looks happy in Korean. The symbols dance together.”

'RSDigby_1628' photo (c) 2009, Robert S. Digby - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

She’s right. The Korean hangul do lend themselves to artistry, don’t they?

I think the take-away from this story of a Korean girl finding her place in a new country and culture is that we do give up some things when we cross cultures. Yoon learns to write her name in English. But she still knows that it means “Shining Wisdom”, and she still keeps her attachment to words and the way they sound and look. Yoon is something of a poet as she tries on the new English words to see how they fit her.

We give up some things and gain others. Yoon makes new friends, and she learns to understand her new teacher who smiles at her in the end.

Helen Recorvits and Gabi Swiatkowska have collaborated on two other books about Yoon: Yoon and the Christmas Mitten and Yoon and the Jade Bracelet. On the basis of this first book, the other two would be worth seeking out.

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