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Tour the World in 30 Books: 5 Reasons Why You Should “Read” Picture Books feat. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

Dear fellow booklovers!

Today I have a very special post for you. You might have seen it around on Booktwitter – a very special blog tour is being run by the very lovely Sammie, and not only does the tour spread love for diverse (children’s and YA) books, but it also supports Sammie’s local library. When I heard of this project, I immediately wanted to take part. I find it is a wonderful initiative, and I am sure you will love it too.

If you want to donate to the library (in whichever form, details below), you can do that, but if not you could also spread the book love and share the different stops on this tour. There have already been some amazing books and posts up, and there are more to follow – you can find the full tour schedule at the end of this post! With that said, what exactly is this blog tour about?

About Tour the World in 30 Books:

This is a blog tour hosted by Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den (you get linked to her post here and it kicked off the tour on day 1, so definitely make sure to check it out!) in support of her local public library’s Diverse Book Drive. The CCPL—a small, rural library in an area with a high poverty rate and a very homogeneous population, where people rarely have the means to travel or experience new perspectives. However, the library doesn’t believe that should stop people from learning more about the world around them, so they’re running a Diverse Book Drive through the month of September in an attempt to bring the rest of the world to the county instead. With a focus on MG and YA books, the CCPL aims to expose especially its young patrons to new and diverse perspectives and cultures.

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

During my literature studies at university, I had one big course on picture books that I absolutely loved. At first I wasn’t sure. Like many people, I couldn’t imagine picture books could be a literary form to take seriously. But after a whole year of looking at various picture books – for children, but many also aimed at adults – some with text, some without, some colourful, some in black and white, I was convinced that picture books are a medium that should not be overlooked. I have come to love them, and I urge you to have a look next time you go to a bookshop. You might be surprised what you find in the picture book aisle!

This is why I have decided to take picture books into consideration when I write blog posts from now on, and I wanted to take this opportunity to start. The book I have chosen for this post is The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi. It is about a little girl named Unhei, who moves with her family from Korea to America, and starts school there. On her way to school she gets bullied for her – from an American perspective – unusual name. Unhei is so scared that she decides not to tell anyone her real name, and rather to wait until she finds an American name the children in her class can call her. When asked for her name and Unhei states that she doesn’t have a name, my heart broke for her. But the children in her class seem way more open-minded and friendly than those she met on the schoolbus, and they offer to fill a jar with name ideas from which she can then pick. Unhei is so happy to have such friendly children in her class, and the next day is not as bad as the first. In the end, will Unhei find a name among her classmates’ ideas, or will she be brave enough to tell them her real name?

I absolutely adore this story. Partly because I can feel with Unhei – I get my name pronounced and written wrong all the time too, and I remember how hard it was in school with a bit of a different or ‘unique’ name (I have come across and have heard of the version Nolee before, but not very often). Nowadays I embrace it and have learned to love it, but when I was little it did make me feel out of place every once in a while. I also love the illustrations that come in the book. We get to see such a diverse group of children – of all skin- and haircolours, all shapes and sizes, some nice, some not so much. Like the real world! When Unhei and her mother go grocery shopping, they pass restaurants and shops from many different cultures: “Fadil’s Falafel, Tony’s Pizza, and Dot’s Deli […], until they got to Kim’s market. The sign was in both English and Korean.” I loved that.

I adored the children in Unhei’s class. I think what I loved the most about them is that they didn’t make a fuss about Unhei’s heritage or acted as if she was different. When she reveals her real name to them, they are all trying to pronounce it until they get it right. We also learn that Unhei means ‘grace’ in Korean, and the children share that some of their names have meanings too, like Rosie. In the end, we see how both cultures learn from the other, and I loved that. Unhei teaches them something, and they help her. It was a wonderful ending to a beautiful book, and I absolutely adored it.

“You are different, Unhei,” her mother said. “That’s a good thing!”

5 Reasons Why You Should “Read” Picture Books

Now that you know what The Name Jar is about, here come 5 reasons why you should really start picking up picture books!

  1. They are deep
    I know, I know. Many people have prejudices against children’s literature, especially picture books. But contrary to popular believe, they do not all just show farm animals and teach children what a tractor is, no! Most of them are actually very deep. They – like The Name Jar – deal with societal issues, science, magic – everything that novel-length books have to offer, picture books can do too!
  2. They are works of art
    Have you looked at a recent picture book? I bet not! There are amazing artists and illustrators out there, and I’m often in awe as to how beautiful most illustrations (and covers!) of picture books are. Furthermore, they don’t just depict what is being said by text already. Oftentimes they enhance feelings and actions, and add a whole other level to the story. Some even tell stories without any text at all! On top of that, they inspire visual thinking and can lead to people wanting to become creative themselves!
  3. Not all picture books are synonymous with children’s books
    Ok, in this post I was talking about picture books that are mainly addressed at children, but there are a big variety of picture books out there that are for adults only. And I don’t mean anything naughty here! Think of your favourite comics and graphic novels – aren’t they, in a way, picture books too?
  4. They offer a quick escape
    Most of us read to escape reality. But when your mind is buzzing from a week full of work and mundane problems, adding a 1000-pages high fantasy can kill your escapist wish. A picture book takes you into the story-world in an instant, and your brain doesn’t even have to do much work on its own – the pictures are right there! They allow your mind to wander and your brain gets to breathe – no thinking about bills, work, or what to wear to school the next morning! Artistic illustrations – sometimes realistic, sometimes fantastical, picture books are filled with them, and they help your brain to just switch off for a while.
  5. They are educational
    Back in the day when children’s literature became its own literary field, the purpose of it was to educate children and teach them the difference between right and wrong. Most children’s books – and picture books too – have long since left that purpose behind and have developed from that simplistic view. However, many of them still include underlying messages that are extraordinarily important and relevant – especially for many adults, too!


    I hope you liked my little list of reasons why I think you should pick up picture books! If you’re interested, I will introduce you to some of my other favourites soon on my blog!

Thank you all so much for reading, and please stay tuned for more info on Sammie’s tour and how you can help the library!

xoxo
Noly

Library Wish List Links:

Hardcover books are preferred, but not required!

Blog tour book wishlists:

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you decide to order a wish list book from Bookshop, please send a message to sammie@thebookwyrmsden.com so the book can be removed to avoid duplicate purchases. Thank you so much!

Other ways to donate:

 

  • Gently used or other new book donations mailed to:
    Sammie Betler
    Casey County Public Library
    238 Middleburg St.
    Liberty, KY 42539

 

Book donations are used at the discretion of the library.

If you can donate, big, big thanks to you! Here are the following tour dates, and those that are already published. Go have a look!

Tour schedule:

September 1: Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den – Introduction, Paola Santiago and the River of Tears || Leelynn @ Sometimes Leelynn ReadsDating Makes Perfect

September 2: Lauren @ Always MeThe Epic Crush of Genie Lo

September 3: Toya @ The Reading ChemistFelix Ever After

September 4: Michelle @ Carry A Big BookSharks in the Time of Saviors

September 5: Shenwei @ READING (AS)(I)AN (AM)ERICAThe Astonishing Color of After

September 6: Maria @ A Daughter of Parchment and PaperPatron Saints of Nothing

September 7: Bri @ Bri’s Book Nook – True Friends (Carmen Browne)

September 8: Bec @ bec&booksLobizona || Jorie @ Jorie Loves A Story – diverse TTT

September 9: Sienna @ Daydreaming Book LoverLoveless

September 10: Kerri @ Kerri McBookNerdRaybearer

September 11: Noly @ The Artsy ReaderThe Name Jar

September 12: Jacob @ The Writer’s AlleyForest of Souls

September 13: Keri @ Are You My BookThe Tea Dragon Society

September 14: Shannon @ It Starts at MidnightThe Space Between Worlds

September 15: Melissa @ Ramblings of a Jedi LibrarianGirl in Translation

September 16: Livy @ Shelves of StarlightClap When You Land

September 17: Crystal @ Lost in StorylandAmerican Born Chinese

September 18: Lili @ Lili’s Blissful PagesA Wish in the Dark

September 19: Leslie @ Books Are The New BlackThe Poppy War

September 20: Noura @ The Perks of Being NouraLove From A to Z

September 21: Crini @ Crini’sA Pale Light in the Black

September 22: Rachelle @ Rae’s Reads and ReviewsDear Haiti, Love Alaine

September 23: Dini @ DiniPandaReadsWicked As You Wish

September 24: Madeline @ Mad’s BooksSpin the Dawn

September 25: Tessa @ NarratessBrace Yourself

September 26: Kimberly @ My Bookish BlissTruly Madly Royally

September 27: Rena @ Bookflirting 101Anna K: A Love Story

September 28: Susan @ Novel LivesBurn the Dark

September 29: Arina @ The Bookwyrm’s Guide to the GalaxyA Song of Wraiths and Ruin

September 30: Maya @ http://mybookishbliss.com/Jackpot

5 thoughts on “Tour the World in 30 Books: 5 Reasons Why You Should “Read” Picture Books feat. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

  1. OMG…I’m so happy you featured a picture book. I admit I’m not a fan but lately, I kind of leaning towards them and actually before COVID quarantines when I could still visit bookstores, the picture book section is one that I visit. It’s because I have little cousins, ages 2 and 5, and I wanna gift them books and of course I want to start with picture books. I’ll definitely buy this one for them 🙂 🙂

    1. Awwww Lili I’m so glad you like the sound of this one! It’s really very special and I love it 🙂 I hope your cousins will too!

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