Multicultural Children’s Book Day Book Review: KOREAN CHILDREN’S FAVORITE STORIES


In Part Three of my series of book reviews for Multicultural Children’s Book Day (#ReadYourWorld), I’ll be reviewing KOREAN CHILDREN’S FAVORITE STORIES by Kim So-Un, illustrated by Jeong Kyoung-Sim. The publisher is Tuttle Publishing.

Before I forget to mention it, I was gifted a copy of this book so I could provide an honest review. Which I am happy to do to help promote diverse books and support the mission of MDBD.

As a second-generation Korean-American, I was delighted to first discover this book several years ago. This book represents a recent reprinting with a new cover.


This book contains a collection of thirteen short folktales which the author describes as having been told for generations. Most contain an obvious message for the reader, such as the rewards of behaving with kindness, empathy, and generosity. Some contain echoes of classic fables such as those by Aesop, including animals acting with human qualities, such as a clever rabbit or dangerous and badly-behaved tigers (and some kind tigers as well).

One thing to keep in mind is that these stories have not been updated to reflect modern sensibilities. As a result, there are elements in some of the stories that will, at best, be perceived as old-fashioned. For example, there are many references to the beauty of some of the female characters that equates them with being superior—a message labeled the “feminine beauty ideal” by some literary scholars. This is, of course, precisely what is found in classic western fairytales such as Cinderella and Snow White. But in a couple of these Korean stories, daughters are offered as a reward, and the most beautiful ones are “given” as the top prize. The best way to approach this issue is to take the opportunity to use the stories as a discussion point for both girls and boys. Most children are quick to recognize the superior importance of a person’s character over their appearance, regardless of what they may read in a classic fairytale.

Illustrations showing traditional Korean dress

These stories do serve to illustrate some of the broader cultural elements unique to Korea. Themes of honesty, hard work, forgiveness, and courage are all included in the collection, alongside some light-hearted or, quite frankly, head-scratching messages. Not all stories end neatly or happily—something to keep in mind when sharing the book with younger readers. On the whole they are entertaining and a departure from most stories kids encounter today. The watercolor illustrations are beautiful and depict the historical dress and landscape of the country.


For more details about Multicultural Children’s Book Day, take a look here. Please take a moment to note the list of generous sponsors for this important event.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 (1/29/21) is in its 8th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Eight years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!

FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Mia Wenjen (Prgamaticmom) and Valarie Budayr’s (

Platinum SponsorsLanguage Lizard Bilingual Books in 50+ LanguagesAuthor Deedee Cummings and Make A Way Media

Gold Sponsors: Barefoot BooksCandlewick PressCapstone,  Hoopoe Books,  KidLitTVPeachtree Publishing Company Inc.

Silver Sponsors: Charlotte RiggleConnecticut Association of School LibrariansAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddlePack-N-Go Girls

Bronze Sponsors: Agatha Rodi and AMELIE is IMPRESSED!Barnes Brothers BooksCreate and Educate Solutions, LLCDreambuilt BooksDyesha and Triesha McCants/McCants SquaredRedfin Real EstateSnowflake StoriesStar Bright BooksTimTimTom Bilingual Personalized BooksAuthor Vivian KirkfieldWisdom Tales PressMy Well Read Child 

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

Poster Artist: Nat Iwata

Authors: Author Afsaneh MoradianAuthor Alva Sachs & Three Wishes Publishing CompanyAuthor Angeliki Stamatopoulou-PedersenAuthor Anna OlswangerAuthor Casey Bell Author Claudine NordenAuthor Debbie DadeyAuthor Diana Huang & Intrepids,  Author Eugenia Chu & Brandon goes to BeijingGreen Kids Club,  Author Gwen JacksonAuthor Janet Balletta, Author Josh FunkAuthor Julia InserroKarter Johnson & Popcorn and BooksAuthor Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry BlossomAuthor Keila DawsonMaya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveAuthor Mia WenjenMichael GenhartNancy Tupper LingAuthor Natalie MurrayNatalie McDonald-PerkinsAuthor Natasha YimAuthor Phe Lang and Me On The Page Publishing,Sandra Elaine ScottAuthor Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler DiariesSISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. NorrgardSusan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher,  Tales of the Five Enchanted MermaidsAuthor Theresa MackiewiczTonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book SeriesAuthor Toshia StelivanValerie Williams-Sanchez & The Cocoa Kids Collection Books©Author Vanessa Womack, MBAAuthor Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by our CoHosts and Global CoHosts!

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by these Media Partners!

Check out MCBD’s Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board!

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and Parents

Homeschool Diverse Kidlit Booklist & Activity Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Activism and Activists Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Empathy Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Kindness Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Physical and Developmental Challenges Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Poverty Kit

Gallery of Our Free Posters

FREE Diversity Book for Classrooms Program

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

Join us on Friday, Jan 29, 2021, at 9 pm EST for the 8th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party!

This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.

We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **

Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, connect with like-minded parts, authors, publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. See you all very soon on Twitter!

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

3 thoughts on “Multicultural Children’s Book Day Book Review: KOREAN CHILDREN’S FAVORITE STORIES”

  1. My kids are half-Korean and they have enjoyed learning about Korean folk tales at bedtime. They would love this book. Thanks for your great review and for your support of Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

    1. My kids are half-Korean as well! They enjoyed having a book of Korean folk tales at home when they were little–and even now!

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