I read this book because it was one of many books banned from Arizona public school’s when their effective and enthralling ethnic studies classes were prohibited from continuing (please learn more about the ethnic studies ban, read the full list of banned books, and join the librotraficante movement).
My Name is Yoon was the only picture book on the list, and one that I hadn’t heard of, so I had to pick it up. It tells the story of a young girl named Yoon who has recently immigrated to the states from Korea. Before she starts school Yoon’s father teaches her how to write her name in English. In Korean her name means Shining Wisdom, in Korean the characters dance on the page, in Korean it is her name. But writing it in English, YOON no longer seems like her name. At school instead of writing her name she writes CAT, BIRD, and CUPCAKE, because she likes the idea of being any of those things, she is not sure if she’ll ever feel like YOON.
By the end of the book Yoon has made a friend at school, her family is happy and proud of how much she learned, and she starts to feel like this new place could be a good home for her. By the end of the book she writes her name is English, because “Yes, my name is Yoon.”
This book is simple, and poignant. The illustrations are beautiful water colors, exaggerated just beyond realistic to pull you into her child’s understanding of the world. Recorvits’ use of the difference of written language as an example for all the many changes in Yoon’s life is a perfect literary device, especially for a young reader thinking about the immigrant experience. It’s a very compelling and relatable story that would work well for a child who has gone through or is going through an immigration process, or a child who hasn’t but should be thinking about these issues compassionately.