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Poetry for Children
Poetry Break #13

A "call and response" poem for two groups

Speak Up
by Janet Wong

*You're Korean, aren't you?
Yes.
*Why don't you speak
*Korean?
Just don't, I guess.
*Say something Korean.
I don't speak it.
I can't.
*Cmon. Say something.
Halmoni. Grandmother.
Haraboji. Grandfather.
Imo. Aunt.
*Say some other stuff.
*Sounds funny.
*Sounds strange.
Hey, let's listen to you
for a change.
*Listen to me?
Say some foreign words.
*But I'm American,
*can't you see?
Your family came from
somewhere else.
Sometime.
*But I was born here.
So was I.

from Good Luck Gold;
Simon and Schuster, 1994

Introduction
Invite the children to say the lines marked with an asterisk (*) as a group beginning with the first line, while you read the unmarked lines solo (beginning with the second line). (This poem appears in two columns in its original format.)

Extension Talk with children about where they are from, where their parents are from, or where their ancestors came from. Challenge them to think about what it means to be an "American."