Demarest High Schooler Celebrates Aapi Culture In New Children's Book

A junior at Northern Valley Regional High School in Demarest is hoping her new children's book will help people embrace their Asian-American culture and customs. 

Phoebe Kim
Phoebe Kim Photo Credit: Phoebe Kim

Phoebe Kim's first children's book "Kimbap" was self-published last month, inspired by her childhood and her desire to share more of her Asian-American culture with others.

In "Kimbap", Boram is nervous about starting kindergarten but then starts conversations and makes friends by sharing aspects of her Korean culture. In Korean, kimbap (or gimbap) is a popular meal with cooked rice, vegetables, fish and meat rolled in dried sheets of seaweed. 

Kim said she was pleased her book was published in time for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which is observed every May. She said she began working on the book last year with a passion for her talking about her culture

"I've been wanting to write a book for a while," Kim said. "I felt empowered but nervous."

In 2020, Kim had an internship with the Korean American Civic Empowerment, an organization devoted to empowering the Korean American community by promoting civic participation. 

"I wanted to use my voice in a different way to advocate for causes I'm passionate about," Kim said. 

One of the inspirations for her book was Malcom Gladwell's book "Blink," which talks about how easily society discriminates and is prejudiced against other cultures.

"We're often not aware of our prejudices and how easy it is to act on them," Kim said. 

Kim said the reception to "Kimbap" has been overwhelmingly positive. Teachers have sent her videos of their children smiling and laughing while they read the book, while her principal gave it to his son, who now calls him by his Korean name.

"I love that my book has brought joy to people," Kim said. 

As she moves into adulthood, Kim said she is passionate about education and making education more accessible and just. All profits from the book will be donated to United World Schools, a charity that promotes educational accessibility, equity and quality.

To purchase "Kimbap," click here.

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