Cooper’s Lesson

Book cover for Cooper's Lesson by Sun Yung Shin

Sun Yung Shin


Kim Cogan

Book Summary

What could a biracial, bicultural child and a Korean grocer have in common? Much more than appearances might lead us – or them – to believe. Cooper feels that he does not belong in either the Korean or the white community, and he brings his frustration and anger to Mr. Lee’s market. Mr. Lee sees Cooper’s confusion and reaches out to him, showing Cooper a way into the community that has seemed so closed off to him. In the process, Cooper learns several valuable lessons about himself and his community. Cooper and Mr. Lee may not always speak the same language, but their cross-cultural, intergenerational friendship teaches each of them what it means to be both Korean and American.

Sun Yung Shin writes that, in Cooper’s Lesson, she “wanted to capture what can be lost and gained as different generations adapt to and influence their adopted cultures.” Her story expresses the difficult questions facing a boy who is trying to understand himself and his community. Kim Cogan’s paintings beautifully illustrate the conflicts that face Cooper and those who surround him. As students explore the book, they will also explore the assumptions they make about others and themselves. Cooper’s Lesson is the winner of the National Parenting Publications Award (NAPPA).

Counting Money/ Everyday Math, Identity/Self Esteem/Confidence, Responsibility, Overcoming Obstacles, Mentors, Immigration, Friendship, Forgiveness, Families, Discrimination, Cultural Diversity, Conflict resolution, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Biracial/Multiracial Interest, Bilingual, Asian/Asian American Interest, Empathy/Compassion, Integrity/Honesty, Realistic Fiction, Respect/Citizenship, Self Control/Self Regulation, Pride, Kindness/Caring

Age Range
Ages 4 to 8 (grades K-3), Ages 9 to 12 (grades 4-7)
Lee and Low Books
Book Category