Waiting for Mama

Presented by: Kayla Yanik EDEL 411 Section C

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Tae-Jun,L. (2007). Waiting for mama. New York: North-South

Information about the book

Title: Waiting for Mama

Author: Lee Tae-Jun

Illustrator: Kim Dong-Seong

Genre: fiction-bilingual picture book

Topic/Theme: the universal theme of hope and family life for the Korean culture


  • Baeksang Publishing Award
  • Book of the Year in Korea
  • The Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, Germany's major kids book prize

About the Author

Lee Tae-Jun was born in 1904 and was just 21 years old when he published his first work. He worked as an author until his death in 1956. Lee Tae-Jun is still recognized as Korea's most beloved authors, today. His writing for the story, Waiting for Mama, was first published in a newspaper in 1938.
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About the Illustrator

Kim Dong-Seong was born in 1970 and graduated from Hong-ik University, Seoul, with a major in Oriental Painting. In, Waiting for Mama, he made his illustrations so authentic, so real, that this story is most powerful when published as a bilingual edition that respects and honors those traditions. He really captures the culture and time period of the story and illustrates the people and scenery as they would have looked in 1938. Even today, in Seoul, you can still see people dressed in these traditional clothes as pictured in Waiting for Mama.

Criteria for High-Quality Multicultural Literature

  1. Portray cultural accuracy and authenticity of characters. The homes in the illustration are accurately portrayed as is clothing that adorns the characters. The illustrations show what people in Korea would have been doing and how they would have done them. It shows how women would balance objects on their heads to carry them.
  2. Be rich in cultural details. The illustrations show the unique scenery of the Korean life in the 1930's. This artist also used a Korean technique with the use of lines on the ink drawings. His artwork is what makes this book so powerful.
  3. Demonstrates unique language. The Korean text, written in Hangeul, is accompanied by the English translation. The unique script was a new written Korean language created under Korea's King Sejong. Before King Sejong, Korean's used Chinese characters for their written language and so many Korean's were frustrated by not being able to write their own language. The new Korean language was based on a phonetic system and could even duplicate sounds from nature; scholars were especially proud of this unique quality of their new language. Today, all Korean's use Hangeul for writing; it has 14 consonants and 10 vowels, which is very similar to the English alphabet. The difference is, English letters are written in a line; whereas, Korean letters get stacked in squares. If you were to break down the square and write the Korean letters next to each other, that spells "Hangeul."

Classroom Lesson Idea

2nd Grade

2.RL.7:Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

Objective: The students will be able to formulate meaning to the plot based on the illustrations from the book, Waiting for Mama.


  • Teacher will connect to students by asking, "Have you ever had to wait for your mom to come home and it seemed like forever?" Talk about the differences in our cultures- like how it's accepted, in the Korean culture, for a child to be left alone to wait for his mom. Tell them to pay close attention to the illustrations in this book and try to picture yourself in this little boy's shoes being all cold and alone.
  • After teacher reads, Waiting for Mama, aloud, teacher will model and discuss as a class what she wants them to learn by looking at the second to last page of the book. It has no words, just a picture of snow falling. Teacher should ask students what they think this illustration means.
  • Together, they will formulate meaning to this illustration as teacher models a synopsis of this illustration in her own words on big writing paper in front of the room for all to see. Teacher should inform students that snow is a symbol of hope in the Korean culture.
  • Students will then choose their own page that they want to formulate meaning to and write what they believe their chosen illustration means using their learned knowledge of the Korean culture and context clues from the story.