Today we welcome author Tina Cho for our second Read, Discuss, Do! interview. If you're not familiar with Tina and her work, she is the author of an engaging array of picture books including Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans (Little Bee Books 2018), Korean Celebrations (Tuttle 2019), My Breakfast with Jesus: Worshipping God around the World (Harvest House 2020), and her newest picture book The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story (Kokila/Penguin Random House 2020). Today we are delighted to hear from her about connecting with kids through books, the benefits of reading picture books, and more!
Don’t you want to just dive into that beautiful cover? Now on to the interview!
Laura: Read, Discuss, Do! is all about taking story time to the next level through thoughtful conversation and activities. Do you have a favorite memory of seeing this in action with one of your books?
Tina: For my book Rice from Heaven, I didn’t get to see the librarian read it, but she shared her extension activity that she made. It was a fun craft & writing activity. Here’s the link: Rice From Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans
And here I am with another activity created by another librarian that demonstrates taking story time to the next level.
Laura: Ooh, I love seeing how librarians and teachers create lessons inspired by our books. And this reminds me of a wonderful memory I have of reading Rice from Heaven with my Sunday school class and then writing you illustrated letters with our favorite parts.
Now here’s a related question. Do you think about how readers might extend your stories through discussion and activities while you are writing? In other words, is that part of your thought process as a writer?
Tina: Story comes first while I’m writing. Application and activities come after, when I write a teacher’s guide. However, ironically, when I critique other people’s stories, story extensions come right to mind.
Laura: How interesting! Since I know you are also an educator, I wonder if it’s the teacher in you that sees the story extension possibilities so readily in others’ stories.
What are your favorite three questions to ask kids to spark picture book conversation?
Tina: Since I’m a kindergarten teacher, I’m always asking them about our books. Who was in the story? What was it about? What was your favorite part?
Laura: Those are great universal questions. Perfect for Read, Discuss, Do!
Finally since our Summer Challenge theme coming up this week is oceans and your book THE OCEAN CALLS fits that so nicely, do you have any special resources to share that will help teachers or parents before or after reading this wondrous ocean-themed story?
Tina: First, teachers and parents can look at photos, a haenyeo video, & read articles about haenyeo on my website: tinamcho.com/theoceancalls.
A teacher’s guide is here: The Ocean Calls Teacher's Guide. It includes question cards, a word search, coloring pages, writing prompts, etc…
I’ve been collecting relatable ocean crafts on my Pinterest board here: The Ocean Calls Pinterest page.
Thank you, Tina. These are wonderful resources! And it was a pleasure chatting with you.
Tina Cho is the author of four picture books-- Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans (Little Bee Books 2018), Korean Celebrations (Tuttle 2019), My Breakfast with Jesus: Worshipping God around the World (Harvest House 2020), and The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story (Kokila/Penguin Random House 2020). Her lyrical middle grade graphic novel, The Other Side of Tomorrow, debuts from Harper Alley in 2023. After living in South Korea for ten years, Tina, her husband, and two teenagers reside in Iowa where Tina also teaches kindergarten.
To learn more about Tina and her books visit https://www.tinamcho.com.