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Rich, authentic children's family involvement storybooks can be used in course work and professional development institutes to help teachers learn about and reflect on families and family involvement.
Some storybooks can be used to increase awareness of life in different families, such as culturally diverse families; some storybooks can be used to look specifically at family involvement processes, such as home–school communication.
Halmoni and the Picnic is grounded in author Sook Nyul Choi's immigrant Korean background and experience as a teacher in this country. The story is a wonderful source for helping students discuss both Korean American family customs and more general home–school involvement processes that pertain to many families. It is a valuable book to read for its family involvement story.
Family Involvement Themes in Halmoni and the Picnic
Using the book's illustrations to help enter the story, here is a way to explore general home–school involvement processes depicted in the story of Halmoni and the Picnic.
Understanding the Experiences of Others
Sharing storybooks can bring diverse voices into the classroom with accounts of home life and involvement experiences that are new to some students. These accounts may be especially new to aspiring teachers or teachers on the job with little prior experience of diverse families. Sharing storybooks can help children and adults to reflect on and understand the world around them, enter into and appreciate others' experiences, and affirm and validate the experiences, backgrounds, and identities of others.
Some stories can provide inspiration for student teachers, acquainting them with the special funds of knowledge that families can bring to their children's education. The stories can give student teachers new ideas about how to bring families' unique knowledge and skills into the school or how to reach out to families in their homes and communities. Some family involvement stories (like Halmoni and the Picnic) can provide models for positive teacher practices with families, including solutions to involvement dilemmas, ways to work together with families, and ways to reach families.
Exercises for Aspiring Teachers to Reflect on Family Involvement Through Stories
Ask the class to:
Choi, S. N. (1993). Halmoni and the picnic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. In the story, a student worries that her classmates will make fun of her Korean grandmother, Halmoni, who has agreed to chaperone the class at a picnic in Central Park in New York City. With help from the teacher, students learn to address Halmoni according to Korean customs and to appreciate the unfamiliar food she brings to the picnic.
Illustrations from Halmoni and the Picnic by Sook Nyul Choi, illustrated by Karen Milone Dugan. Text copyright © 1993 by Sook Nyul Choi. Illustrations copyright © 1993 by Karen Milone Dugan. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. Many of the ideas in this guide were first presented at the fourth Curriculum Infusion Institute on Family Involvement in Clearwater Beach, FL, September 30, 2004. We would like to thank conference participants for contributing their suggestions and insights.
Developed by Ellen Mayer, December 2005