Hi! My name is Sarah Park Dahlen.
I am an author and scholar. I was raised in Los Angeles, California, where I ate Korean food every day and watched Korean dramas every weekend. As I often say, I love love love Korean food!
I went to the same K-6th for elementary and the same 7-12th for junior high and high school. Then I spent 6 years at UCLA, where I earned a BA in History and Asian American Studies and an MA in Asian American Studies. After that, I earned an MS and PhD in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign!
I read a ton of books as a kid, but I never saw myself—a Korean American girl—represented in my books. It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to learn about Asian American history, and then when I got to graduate school that I first read children’s books featuring and written by Korean Americans. Linda Sue Park’s A Single Shard and An Na’s A Step from Heaven meant the world to me when I first read them. They set me on a path to studying these books, and now I’m writing them, too!
I lived and worked in the Twin Cities in Minnesota for over ten years for my first job. This is where I met my husband and where our daughter was born. The Twin Cities has a really great theater scene, and Minneapolis and St. Paul are each often ranked as the most “literary” cities in the country currently known as the United States—and has some of the best Vietnamese food I’ve had in my life. Now I’m an associate professor in Illinois, which is the state that is home to the best caramel popcorn and hot dogs. It’s also the first state in the country to implement the TEAACH Act (Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History)!
I love to travel and explore new places and good food. When I can’t travel, I love visiting new places through reading! I’m also addicted to podcasts.
About My Name
“Sarah” is a Biblical name that means “mother of nations” or “princess!” My Korean name 사라 is pronounced “Sah-rah” and means “silk.” My father’s father named me Sarah, and my mother’s father gave me my Korean name 사라.
Park is my maiden name and is now my middle name. It is the third most common surname in Korea. My husband is a Korean adoptee, and Dahlen is my married name, so my full name (which I prefer to use) is Sarah Park Dahlen.
As my husband says, Dahlen rhymes with ballin’!
About My Website
I was born in Korea and came to the US with my immigrant Korean parents shortly after I was born. Because my maternal grandparents still lived in Korea, we visited often. My grandfather loved taking me to historical sites and museums—places like 경복궁 (Gyeongbok Palace), the Independence Hall of Korea, the Jikji Cheongju Early Printing Museum. As an adult, I also love visiting these sites on my own. I especially love 한옥 (hanok), traditional Korean homes. Because one of the first Korean American-authored books I ever read was Clay Walls by Ronyoung Kim, and because the structure of a hanok plays an important role in Linda Sue Park’s children’s book Seesaw Girl, I knew I wanted my website to feature something related to Korean architecture. I was astounded when I came across artist Nancy So Miller’s beautiful work on social media, and immediately asked her to create an illustration for my website. Her final artwork is stunning and I am so excited. I hope it inspires you to learn more about Korean history and culture.
Sarah Park Dahlen is an author and scholar. As a child, she was a voracious reader but didn’t see Korean Americans in books until she got to college. When she learned that Linda Sue Park had won the John Newbery Medal, and An Na had won the Printz Medal, their books inspired her to become a professor so she could research Asian American children’s books and work with librarians, authors, illustrators, and other people who care about children and books! Dr. Sarah now also writes for children. She is represented by Tricia Toney Lawrence of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. sarahpark.com @readingspark