Choi, Yangsook. The Name Jar. New York: Knopf, 2001. Print
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi was an interesting book to read and analyze. It is a story of a young Korean girl named Unhei, who moves to the United States from Korea and has a rough first day at school. She experiences name-calling because of her Korean name (which means “grace”). Her name is hard to pronounce and she begins to wonder if she should choose another name that is easier to pronounce. Her classmates help her by creating a “name jar” that gives her suggestions of new names like Daisy, Miranda, Lex and many more. Even though she feels as if her Korean name is holding her back from fitting in, she decides in the end to keep her name.
This story was great in many ways. For instance, children can relate to this story because every child has had a moment where they wanted to fit in and be accepted by others. Yangsook Choi did a great job at depicting multiple aspects of the Korean culture in the illustrations. The detail that stuck out to me the most was the page about the gift of a wooden block with her name craved in it from her grandmother that stayed behind in Korea. That occur majority of the time when immigrants move to the United States. Many of their family members do not come with them and they are missed dearly.
Unhei’s Korean name is used extensively and is cherished by her. She is pride of her culture and is proud of her uniqueness. Her mother explains how important education is by telling her she must study hard, behave, and get good grades to show that she is a “good Korean.” That is an Asian stereotype about Asians stressing how important education is. Another cultural marker that is depicted in this book is the fact that they shop at the Korean grocery store (Kim’s Market) and the family cooks and eats kimchi (which is a traditional