Halmoni and the Picnic (First and Second Grade)

Halmoni and the Picnic by Sook Nyul Choi

Halmoni and the Picnic


Yunmi’s Grandmother (“Halmoni” in Korean) has moved from Korea to live with her family in New York City. She is uncomforatble with her new environment and knows little English. Every day she walks Yunmi to school and brings fruit for Yunmi’s friends but does not try to speak with them. Yunmi’s friends are sad about Halmoni’s isolation and suggest that she be a chaperone on their class’s field trip to Central Park. Yunmi is excited when her Halmoni agrees to go but is anxious that the kids will think her traditional Korean clothes and food are strange. The day is a huge success, the kids love the new food and Yunmi’s Halmoni feel comfortable in joining with the children playing their games.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why doesn’t Halmoni want to talk to Yunmi’s friends?
    • How would you feel if you didn’t speak English in the United States? Do you have to speak English to be an American citizen? Why or why not? [Clarify for your class that speaking English is not a requirement for being and American citizen]
    • Halmoni does speak to Yunmi’s friends– but doesn’t use words to do it. What did she use?
  2. What does Helen think is the reason Halmoni doesn’t want to learn English?
    • What are some things you don’t want to do when you are sad?
    • There are things that we can see that make Halmoni happy– what are they?
  3. Even though Halmoni agrees to come to the picnic, Yunmi is worried
    • Why is Yunmi worried about Halmoni bringing kimbap to the picnic?
    • When you share something about your family or your culture, what are some reasons you might be nervous to do so?