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Picture Books with Lyrics

Emotional rhythms in picture books




As picture books’ popularity is soaring day by day, picture books are no longer reserved for children just like they used to be before. More adults are reading picture books, and this trend has led to the publication of more picture books which can be enjoyed by all age groups from children to adults. In particular, as those that include lyrics from famous songs loved by the public touch the hearts of all generations, they not only preserve the innocence of children but also soothe adults’ minds with short texts and pictures that recall the memories of their childhood. Following are some of the picture books that give more abundant joy and touch your heart, with a mixture of beautiful lyrics and cozy pictures.


Pure picture books that have the power to cross generations


“The yellow balloons flying in the sky remind me of beautiful memories.”


The song “Balloon,” a popular song familiar to all Koreans, was reborn as a picture book titled A Balloon (Changbi). The original song was by the band Five Fingers, well-known among those born in the 1970s and 80s, but the song was then covered by a popular boy band TVXQ and was even included in the national textbook. The book A Balloon uses balloons, which anyone would have played with during their childhood, to recall the childhood days and memories of adults and present dreams and hopes to children. In particular, the last scene where the yellow balloon flies high into the sky is the climax created by the beautiful palette of colors and brings up the glittering dreams and cozy memories readers had in their childhood.


“A dream where I became the sea once again, the sky, and the water.”


Meanwhile, Dream of Becoming Water (ChungARam Media) consists of poems and pictures that are based on the feelings singer Lucid Fall, beloved for his beautiful lyrics, had when he would think about water. Water is a free traveler that can become anything and go wherever it wants in the laws of nature – the raindrops become a stream and then a river that leads to the vast ocean. The author used watercolors to delicately express the energetic but calm and strong but soft image of water, letting readers feel warmth and comfort while reading the book. The QR code in the book is connected to the original song. With the original song playing on guitar in the background, you will be able to take away a whole other impression from the book, different from a mere visual experience.


“If we look at the globe, our earth is round. But I don’t understand why all its components are square.
Perhaps it’s nemo (meaning “square” in Korean)’s dream.”


The song “Dream of a Square” made by Yoo Young-Seok, a singer-song writer who won the “Beautiful Lyrics Award” at the Golden Disc Awards in 1991, has been reborn as a picture book titled Dream of a Square (Changbi). The world seen by the child in the book is all square. He wakes up from a square bed, opens square windows and square doors, sits on a square table, wears a square bag, hops on a square bus, and goes to the square school. However, adults in the square world teach the kids to live a round life. The book Dream of a Square directs a humorous but profound question at our society while looking into the round and pure hearts of children.





A Balloon, Dream of Becoming Water, Dream of a Square



Picture books with lyrics deliver greater resonance and impression when they are read together with the original songs playing in the background.


Talking about the preciousness of our daily lives


“I realized how precious the ordinary days we’ve had were.
Let’s smile until the day when we hugged and loved each other returns.”


One day, COVID-19 appeared and engulfed the entire world, disrupting our normal daily lives. Our lives have changed dramatically after the outbreak, and the changed lives have given us depression, but also an opportunity to realize how precious our daily lives were at the same time. Hit-song maker Lee Juck’s Things We Took For Granted (Woongjin Thinkbig) is a book made with the hope that someday the disease will be gone and an end will be brought to the complicated minds of all. The book begins with a letter, which is sent to all those living in a changing world due to the pandemic. Moments from the past are displayed before our eyes as we open it. The beautiful experiences and memories from the past console us and give hope that we will be able to go back to those days together someday.


“The money you can save by not buying clothes for a month would be worth five goats on the opposite side of the planet.
Let’s send the goats to the children there as presents so that they can go to school in Africa.”


Meanwhile, the book A Goat for 40,000 Won (Green Book) is a book that is mainly based on what Rooftop Moonlight (a female duo in Korea) experienced while volunteering in Zambia, Africa, in 2012, and promotes the “Red Goat” campaign. The book contrasts the different daily lives of Korean and African children with different techniques and colors. The goat tied with a red string sent from the left page travels to the right page and becomes the seed of hope for African children. The kids in Africa smile as they receive the goat, and put on a bag to go to school instead of walking a long distance to draw water. Only 40,000 won can present an ordinary life to children on the other side of the world, just like the kids living in Korea.




Things We Took For Granted, A Goat for 40,000 Won



A message for you, a valuable being


“Study. No, actually, that might be a little too cliché. Be diligent. No, even I was not that diligent either.
Love. No, to love is too difficult. Then, just live your own life!”


Is there be a bond that is as strong as the relationship between a mother and her daughter? Yang Hee-Eun’s song “Mother to Daughter,” which has touched the hearts of the public, has been published as a picture book. The book Mother to Daughter (Wisdom House) begins with the mom’s monologue where she talks to her grown-up daughter. She gives affectionate advice to her daughter, hoping for her happiness such as “study, be diligent, and love,” but the daughter thinks her mother is just nagging. The daughter’s monologue begins after her mom’s. Regardless of how much she wants to be nice to her mother, the girl going through puberty just has so many complaints and refuses to open her heart to her mom. The book drew the space where the mom and daughter candidly talk to each other as the “vast universe” and expressed how they resolve the complicated feelings they have for each other. Any female reader would be able to sympathize with the story as they are someone’s daughter or mother.


“The splendidly shining young days of your mom, a woman with many dreams, bloomed the flower of you.
I dreamed the dream of you.”


The book A Song To My Daughter (Changbi) was made by composer Yoo Hee-Yeol for his wife and daughter. After another day of hard work, dad returns home and sits by the baby, asleep under the starlight. Moments from past memories – the smile on his wife’s face when she bought the first pair of shoes for the baby on a warm spring day, the little hand that he held when the baby was born, and the wife and baby waving their hands by the window – are the energy that shines light on dad’s exhausted mind. Dad leaves the last message to the baby he loves - “When days are tough, think of us, your precious family. Remember how lovable a being you are to your dad and mom.” The book A Song To My Daughter, is a message of love and blessing for the invaluable child.


“You are beautiful. There’s no flower that has the same look. Perfect things are not warm.
I’m not smiling because I’m happy. I get happy when I smile.”


There are moments in life when there seems to be no light in the dark tunnel inside you. But that’s how we get stronger. Singer-songwriter Lee Sang-Eun’s “You’re Beautiful” has been turned into a book and is giving a warm hug to its readers. The picture book You’re Beautiful (Noran Sangsang) heals the exhausted minds of readers. As perfect things can be cold and unfeeling, and there’s no star in the universe that travels on the same route, the book offers a warm consolation to its readers, telling them to walk their own path no matter what and live their life to the fullest, not comparing themselves with others as there is a reason that we are born in this world. There’s only one me in this world, and I am beautiful for what I am. Don’t pursue beauty on the outside but value the beauty inside. If you have lost your self-esteem or need a warm pat on your back, how about reading You’re Beautiful and replenish the energy to encourage yourself?


Sometimes, a short paragraph and a piece of drawing can replace many words.





Mother to Daughter, A Song To My Daughter, You’re Beautiful



Korean picture books are proving their value across the world, receiving a positive response from overseas readers. Some of them have won accolades at several famous international book fairs, such as the Bologna Ragazzi Award, the most prominent award in children’s books, and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the greatest literary award for children’s and teen books in the world. I hope that picture books with beautiful lyrics in Korean can fly further into the world, promoting cultural exchanges.


Written by Lee Ji-Hyeon


Lee Ji-Hyeon

#Picture Books#Lyrics#original song#singer
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