You know that whooshing noise?
I hear it every time difficult Korean content flies over my head.
Now, it’s just a fact of life for language learners—especially in the beginning stages—that some books, movies and songs will go flying along without us picking up much of the meaning. So it’s important to find ways to build confidence and Korean skills until we’re ready to tackle that difficult content.
And all it takes is a quick trip to the bookshelf.
With easy Korean books, you can start taking big strides on your Korean learning journey.
Make some room on your nightstand for these books and pretty soon you’ll be the one whooshing toward fluency.
How Can Easy Korean Books Boost Your Language Skills?
Even if a book is written at a relatively easy level—or sometimes especially if it’s easy—it can provide awesome tools for practicing Korean and learning new language skills. Here are some of the key ways that easy Korean books can help language learners:
They Build Your Confidence
Many people live their lives thinking they’re just no good at Korean. They’ve tried studying once or twice in the past but never really got anywhere. So they’ve thrown in the towel and think learning the language is next to impossible.
What probably happened was they used materials that weren’t suitable for their proficiency level. Maybe the content was just too much and became overwhelming. So they lost their confidence, got impatient and quit.
Starting off with easy Korean books will help to push you out of your language learning rut. Beginners especially should consider starting with children’s books, which have simple stories to follow and typically don’t use complex sentences or abstract ideas and vocabulary.
You just can’t help but learn! Plus, there’s no pressure because… they’re children’s books!
As you start to get the hang of reading these easy books, you’ll build up your confidence and motivation to learn more. (And you know how important these two are in learning any language, or in any venture in life.) You’ll ultimately feel prepared to continue and move on to materials that are a bit more challenging.
You’ll acquire Korean, without losing your self-esteem—all because you started with an easier, more manageable book to read.
They Build Your Foundational Skills in the Language
There’s another very important reason why you should start off with easy material when learning Korean: it can help you tackle those basic building blocks that you need to thoroughly understand before advancing in your Korean.
Easy books deal with numbers, colors and rhymes, your basics verbs and adjectives and the most common phrases. These are the vocabulary and grammar concepts your more advanced materials will assume you already understand.
With children’s books specifically, there tends to be a more narrow scope so that you can focus on building one foundational skill at a time. Take a book on Korean numbers, for example. It’s like the whole world is about numbers and the focus is so tight that you have nothing else to think and talk about. You won’t be distracted or overwhelmed as you memorize the words and patterns from the book.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the skills you can pick up from easy Korean books. Without the proper foundation in the language, your Korean would be like a flimsy house of cards.
They Stay with You
If you find K-pop songs hard to forget, it’s even harder to forget those lessons, stories, songs and nursery rhymes that we learned as children. Their simple lines and catchy rhythms once helped us memorize colors and numbers, and we still remember them even though we have no use for them anymore.
It’s the same with easy Korean books. The storyline gives context to the words, while the repetition employed as the pages progress cements them in your mind. They’re also presented with engaging colors and attention-grabbing visuals that effectively embed themselves in your memory.
You can further ensure these books stay with you long-term by practicing the vocabulary and concepts you learn from them on FluentU.
Just as these qualities worked for learning your first language, they’ll be invaluable to learning Korean.
6 Easy Books That Effectively Jumpstart Your Korean
Now that you know how easy Korean books can boost your language skills, let’s take a look at some of the titles you should add to your bookshelf.
This book is a top seller in its category and is a charming gateway to Korean language and culture.
As a beginner, you’ll be able to ease yourself into the sound and structure of the language with beautiful illustrations of everyday words.
Each letter of the alphabet is represented by a Korean word, and through the clever use of context and rhyme, the vocabulary becomes easily embedded in the memory. It’s like an extended version of the song “A, You’re Adorable, B, You’re So Beautiful.” There’s Hangul as well as romanized words incorporated into the English text.
As mentioned above, one of the advantages of using children’s books is that they have a narrow focus. You’re not bombarded with tons of ideas and new language concepts. Instead, you can simply focus on learning one specific topic.
This book is all about opposites. So you’ll learn simultaneously that 커요 (keo-yo) means big and 작아요 (ja-ga-yo) means small. It’s a smart way to learn vocabulary because the word pairs reinforce and provide context for each other. And, if that’s not enough, as a bonus, the bright and colorful pictures further reinforce the relationship and drive home the point.
This is probably one of the most translated book or stories there is. It’s a bedtime story about a little boy, Tim, who can’t fall asleep.
Why? Well, he’s anxious and inconsolable because his pet wolf is missing. Not finding the wolf inside the house, he ventures out alone in the dead of night to look for him. And along the way, he meets a bunch of interesting characters.
This one will take your Hangul for a light spin. It features simple sentences that Korean language learners can study closely. It’s also great for getting accustomed to the structure of Korean phrases and sentences.
Whether you’re a veggie lover or a steak and potatoes kind of person, you’ll definitely love this book as an introduction to Korean culture.
The book will expose you to a slice of Korean vocabulary that’s central to everyday life. Korean food, in general, is big on fruits and vegetables. Korean meals come in a colorful assortment of veggies as the main course or as side dishes, and the cuisine has recently been heralded internationally as a healthy way to eat.
The book is another example of the kind of focus you’ll get when you tackle different children’s books. And if you love this one, you’ll definitely love other similarly titled books such as “I Love to Share,” “I Love My Mom” and “I Love to Brush My Teeth.”
The titles may sound like child’s play, but they actually pack serious Korean linguistic gems.
This book provides an endearing snapshot of the different beliefs and traditions around the Lunar New Year celebration. So if you want to peek behind the curtain and understand the reason for the rituals, check out this charming 34-pager.
Presented from a Korean-Chinese boy’s perspective, the book tells a story of hope and optimism. And hey, you don’t have to be Korean or Chinese to celebrate. Our little boy’s two best friends come from a wonderful mix of cultures. One is German-French and the other is Hopi-Mexican.
Korean language learners won’t just find the context engaging, they’ll learn the language in a low-pressure environment. The book just has that aura of friendliness and quiet simplicity.
And like I said, these children’s books will stay with you long after the lessons have been learned. “This Next New Year,” an award-winning title, won’t just teach you simple Korean words and phrases that’ll serve you well, but will also remind you of the value of diversity and getting exposure to other cultures.
Last, but by no means least, we come to a collection of fourteen classic and modern nursery rhymes.
Each culture has its own special array of children’s rhymes, and those in this collection are the Korean equivalent of Anglophone classics such as “Humpty Dumpty” or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
This book has tons of Korean vocabulary embedded in catchy phrases and lines. The book comes with a CD, which adds a very useful audio element to the whole learning process.
This is the kind of book where you get into the groove as you’re reading it. You’ll be clapping and nodding to the lines. And when the music has completely taken you over, you’ll put the book down and belt the Korean lines like a native speaker. Just to make sure you’re enunciating correctly, there’s a pronunciation guide at the beginning of the book.
With the books featured above, you’ll never look at children’s titles the same way again. Not to mention, you’ll start on the right foot in your Korean journey. You’ll have the confidence to power through plateaus and valleys, and have the needed foundation to add more complexity to your linguistic repertoire. (And all it took was the humility of opening an unassuming easy children’s book.)
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