ESL Children Connect with Luli and the Language of Tea

Written by Andrea Wang. Illustrated by Hyewon Yum.

None of the children speak English at Luli’s day care. They all play alone while their parents attend English as a Second Language class next door. Luli finds a way to bring them together.

On a different day, Luli pulls out a teapot, cups, a thermos of hot water and tea leaves.

Luli announces chai–the Chinese word for tea to the roomful of children. They each pop their head up with interest, calling out the word for tea in their home language and the word is written in the script of that country. Luli prepares the tea and when it’s brewed, she announces tea time and the children gather around.  

Yum’s colored pencil illustrations are beautiful.  The end papers invite interest all on their own. They feature different teacup patterns from the 10 countries of the children in the playroom.  

Wang’s spare, layered text is both powerful and evocative. Much like their parents, the children also don’t speak English. They are all new to a country with unfamiliar foods, people and customs and that can be scary. Just as scary as entering a new playroom for the first time.

But Luli breaks the ice when she introduces the centuries-old ritual of tea time to the playroom group. The children connect and begin to talk, share and play together.

Copyright © 2023 Words by HB