The Have a Good Day Cafe

By Frances Park, Ginger Park
Illustrations by Katherine Potter

The nation of Korea was split into South Korea and North Korea in 1948 as a byproduct of Cold War politics. In 1950, with the backing of the Soviet Union, North Korea invaded South Korea. In the resulting war, the United Nations supported South Korea. The Korean War lasted until 1953. Effectively, the war divided families and created a deep distrust between the two states. Today, South Korea is officially called the Republic of Korea and is a developed, capitalist country with an elected government. North Korea, officially called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, has a communist government.

Since the United States Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, many Korean immigrants have come to this country. Almost all are from South Korea. The majority of Korean Americans live in states such as California, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia. Some U.S. states celebrate Korean American Day on January 13.

 Teaching Tip
 You might use The Have A Good Day Cafe as part of your observance  of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May. The story could also  be used as a selection for Mother's Day, celebrated on the second  Sunday of May each year.

Before Reading
Prereading Focus Questions
Before introducing this book to students, you may wish to develop background and promote anticipation by posing questions such as the following:

  1. What are your favorite foods? What opportunities do you have to eat foods from other cultures? What kinds of foods have you tried?
  2. Why do you think people enjoy foods from other cultures?
  3. How do you help out at home? Which people in your family do you help the most?
  4. What would it be like to be a newcomer in this country? What problems might you have?
  5. Have you ever helped your family solve a problem? What was the problem? How did you help solve it?

Exploring the Book
Examine the book cover illustration with students. Ask them what they think the people are doing. What kind of food do students think the people are eating?

Point out the features of a fiction book including the title page, copyright page, dedication, story, illustrations, and in this book, the vocabulary section on the last page.

Setting a Purpose for Reading
Have students read to find out:

  • how the food cart got its name
  • what kind of food was served at the cart
  • what happens in the story

Discuss the power of words. Ask students what a cafe is. Write their ideas on the chalkboard. Then have a volunteer look up the word in a dictionary. Point out that the cafe in the book doesn’t actually fit the dictionary definition.

Ask students for their ideas of other words Mike could have used instead of "cafe." (e.g. cart, food stand) Have students draw two pictures, one of a cafe and one of a food stand. Talk about some of the differences between the two.

Ask students why they think Mike chose "cafe" for the cart name. What kind of feeling do you get when you hear the name Have a Good Day Cafe?

Turn to the food glossary on the last page of the book and review the Korean words and definitions. Then have students try using the words in oral sentences, referring to the pronunciation key for help.

After Reading
Discussion Questions
After students have read the book, use these or similar questions to generate discussion, enhance comprehension, and develop appreciation for the content. Encourage students to refer to passages and illustrations in the book to support their responses.

  1. Why is Grandma homesick?
  2. Why does the family go to the city?
  3. How do Mike's parents make a living?
  4. How do Mike's parents treat their customers? What makes you think this?
  5. What causes the family to lose business?
  6. Why can't Mike's parents move their food cart to another location?
  7. What is Mike's idea? Why is Grandma eager to help? What does she do?
  8. How does Mike's new sign help business?
  9. Why does Mike call the food cart the Have a Good Day Cafe?
  10. Why does Mike's plan work? What two problems does it help solve?
  11. How does the story show the importance of family in Korean culture?

Literature Circles
If you use literature circles during reading time, students might find the following suggestions helpful in focusing on the different roles of the group members.

  • The Questioner might use questions similar to the ones in the Discussion Question section of this guide.
  • The Passage Locator might look for passages using Korean words and check them with the glossary in the book to reinforce meaning.
  • The Illustrator might draw scenes to show customers eating Korean food in the park.
  • The Connector might locate other books about food from different cultures.
  • The Summarizer might provide a brief summary of each section that the group reads.
  • The Investigator might find out about why local governments regulate the sale of food.

There are many resource books available with more information about organizing and implementing literature circles. Three such books you may wish to refer to are: *Getting Started with Literature Circles* by Katherine L. Schlick Noe and Nancy J. Johnson (Christopher-Gordon, 1999), *Literature Circles: Voice And Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups* by Harvey Daniels (Stenhouse, 2002), and *Literature Circles Resource Guide* by Bonnie Campbell Hill, Katherine L. Schlick Noe, and Nancy J. Johnson (Christopher-Gordon, 2000).

Reader's Response
The following questions or similar ones will help students personalize their responses to the book. Suggest that students respond in reader's journals, in oral discussion, or in written form.

  1. What did you like about this story? Why?
  2. What questions do you have about the characters that the story doesn’t answer?
  3. Which of the Korean foods described in the book would you like to try? What do you think they will taste like?
  4. In what ways is Mike’s life like yours? How is it different? Make a chart to compare your life with his.
  5. Respect for elders is an important part of Korean culture. What are some ways that this is shown in the story?
  6. How does Mike’s relationship with his grandmother help both him and her? Why is this important to the story?

Other Writing Activities
You may wish to have students participate in one or more of the following writing activities. Set aside time for them to share and discuss their work.

  1. Develop a new menu for the Have a Good Day Cafe.
  2. Retell the story from the point of view of Grandma.
  3. Write a story about what happens next to Mike and his family and their business.
  4. Make a list of questions to ask someone who runs a food cart or truck. Find out what the best thing about this work is and what the hardest thing is.

ELL/ESL Teaching Strategies
These strategies might be helpful to use with students who are English language learners or who are learning to speak English as a second language.

  1. Make a tape of the story for students to listen to. Have them follow along in the book as they listen.
  2. Assign ELL students to read the book aloud with strong English speakers.
  3. Like Grandma in The Have A Good Day Cafe, many ELL students struggle to understand an unfamiliar language. Use Grandma's experience to talk about the challenges of learning a new language.

Interdisciplinary Activities
To help students integrate their reading experiences with other curriculum areas, you might try one or more of the following activities.

Social Studies
1. Help students locate Korea on a world map. Point out that both North and South Korea are located on the Korean Peninsula which extends south from China. If necessary, remind students that a peninsula is a piece of land that extends into water and is surrounded on three sides by water.

Have students identify the following:

  • the capital city of North Korea and South Korea
  • the bodies of water that surround the Korean Peninsula
  • the nearest neighbors to the Koreas
  1. Interested students might find out more about Korean culture. What are some important holidays or festivals? What is the traditional dress? Students might be particularly fascinated by how age is reckoned in Korean and other Asian cultures.
  2. Point out that many foods popular in the United States (and that students may think of as "American" foods) are traditionally from or associated with other countries or cultures. For example, the bagels sold by Mike's family are a Jewish food, and pizza is associated with Italy. Have students find examples of foods from a variety of cultures or countries in your community. If possible, arrange to have parents or local restaurant owners bring in samples for students to try.


  1. Help students create cause-and-effect charts to show different things that might affect a business. Remind students that both the rainy weather and too much competition had adverse effects on Mike’s family’s food cart business. A new name and new kinds of food had positive effects. Encourage students to brainstorm similar causes and effects.
  2. Challenge students to think about how Mike’s family could expand its business. Ask students to talk about what the next step might be. What would the family need to do to expand even further beyond that first step?

Students might design a flyer about the Have a Good Day Cafe to be distributed around the neighborhood where the food cart is located, or they might make posters advertising the Have a Good Day Cafe that Mike could put up in the park or other areas of the city.

About the Authors
Frances Park and Ginger Park are Korean American sisters who have been writing books together since the 1990s. Their award-winning titles for children include Where on Earth Is My Bagel?, published by Lee & Low Books; My Freedom Trip; The Royal Bee; and Good-bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong. They have also written books for adults including To Swim Across the World and When My Sister Was Cleopatra Moon.

The sisters have always been drawn to stories connected to their cultural heritage. According to Ginger, "Having parents who endured tragedy in their homeland inspired me to write about them." Says Frances, "Stories that open the eyes of a young reader are important, period. So many problems in this world are caused by closed, boxed-in opinions."

The idea for The Have A Good Day Cafe came from another Korean family. Ginger explains: "For many years, as we drove . . . to [work], we saw a Korean family on Constitution Avenue, living out the American dream via a food cart. . . .[T]his scene pulled at our heartstrings, especially on rainy days as the family hovered under a giant umbrella. . . . One day the family and food cart were gone. We wondered what happened to them."

Frances Park and Ginger Park both live in the Washington, D.C., area where they are co-owners of a chocolate boutique called—what else?—Chocolate Chocolate.

About the Illustrator
Katherine Potter has illustrated numerous children’s books, including My Mother the Cat, Spike, In My Own Little Corner, and Naming the Cat. Potter was born in New York City and earned her BFA from the School of Visual Arts. She was drawn to The Have A Good Day Cafe by the opportunity to share the story with her nephew, whose grandfather came to the United States from Korea many years ago. Potter also works as an illustrator creating images for magazines, newspapers, and book covers. She lives in Katonah, New York, with her husband and their children.


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades 1 - 4

Reading Level:

Grades 3 - 3


Occupations, Immigration, Grandparents, Friendship, Food, Families, Conflict resolution, Asian/Asian American Interest, Poverty


English Fiction Grades 3-6, Fluent Dual Language , Fluent English, Appendix B Diverse Collection Grades 3-6, Realistic Fiction Grades 3-5, Food and Cooking Collection, English Fiction Grades PreK-2, Mother's Day Collection, Asian Pacific American Heritage Collection , Korean Culture and History Collection, Grandparents Collection, Asian/Asian American English Collection Grades PreK-2, Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Immigration Collection, Asian American Collection English 6PK, English Guided Reading Level O, Chinese and Lunar New Year

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