Anpanman, actually from a comic book.  Japanese kids seem to grow out of Anpanman pretty quickly.  When I taught kids, I liked to ask the older kids, “Do you like Anpanman?” to see the expression on their face.  😛


Family of Fourteen by Iwamura Kazuo  Such relaxing books!


Guri and Gura by Nakagawa Eriko  Cutey Cutey


Not originally Japanese, but The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.  Japan treats a lot of western characters as their own, so to speak.  They adore The Snowman, The Little Prince, Moomin, Miffy, the list goes on and on…….  I don’t think America embraces Japanese characters, probably because Japanese books are rarely published and promoted in the U.S.


both famous.  Nakae Yoshio? on the left.  Imoto Youko? on the right  Just really famous


Matsutani’s book on top Super duper famous and loved.  Iwasaki Chihiro…all these illustrators are incredibly famous, but she is arguably the most famous (?)


Bruna’s Miffy……Much loved in Japan.  Is it my imagination, or is it obvious that Miffy influenced that Japanese cat Hello Kitty?


I don’t know this so well….by Kakagui Hiroshi.  Looks really Japanese, though.


Darling Husband bought these Christmas cookies for us.  My son and I have the same personalities….we both scoffed ours down!  My husband is saving his.


When my son was little, I never read to him from Japanese picture books, only English ones.  Therefore, I am not 100% familiar with the beloved Japanese picture books.  However, some of them have been translated in English, and are carried by our libraries (city and prefectural.)  I did read him those English ones, like The Family of Fourteen and Guri and Gura.  Really sweet books.  Sometimes they don’t translate too well, most of the time I prefer the pictures over the text. (Although some books translate just fine.)

But moving on….at age 11, my son is way past the baby picture book stage.  (Sigh) LOL.   He told me he wanted a history book for his read aloud, so for the past several months, I have been reading “The Story of the World” to him.  It is four separate books, the history of the entire world from ancient times to the nineteen nineties.

He loved it.  I loved it.  We both loved it.

He loved it because he likes history.  Also, while I think it can be read to kids of almost any age, I am glad I waited until this year to do them.  He has been doing Japanese history and WWII in sixth grade and it really corresponds with the Story of the World.  Like literally, he talked about Pearl Harbor (in Japanese, Shinju Wan–Shinju literally means “pearl”) in school and the same exact day we talked about Pearl Harbor at home.  It was pretty funny.  I asked what his teacher said about it and he said that the teacher said, “Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and didn’t tell the Americans.  Write that down.”

I loved the Story of the World because it filled in lots of gaps for me and explained things I wasn’t sure about.  Very easy to read.  I have a feeling that if you were a historian, you would find things wrong with the books, but I personally found it very unbiased.  It was just very straight forward about things.

Anyway, I really recommend the books.  Informative!


Speaking of my son’s history class, he told me that his teacher asked for a show of hands of which students knew who Hitler was.  My son said he and only two other kids knew who he was!  Amazing!  They are in sixth grade, remember.  And kind of sad.  We hadn’t reached Hitler yet in The Story of the World at that point, but my son knows who Hitler was because we have definitely talked about him..  I don’t have English books about him, but I checked Japanese books (picture books aimed at older kids) out of the library and we talked about them.

I hadn’t done this previously, but after my son said that so few kids knew who Hitler was, we talked about him again and I told him that Hitler was a mesmerizing speaker (apparently).  We logged onto youtube for his speeches.  You don’t have to understand German to see that he really had the crowd under his control.  So basically, the moral was:  Don’t listen to somebody who sounds good!   Use your head and THINK about right and wrong!

Oh, also………….getting off the subject here, but I asked if he heard in school about the Rape of Nanjing.  (I didn’t use the word “rape”)  No, of course they weren’t taught that. 😦  I read the book by Iris Chang so I told him about it.  But not getting any library books on this one.  (Not sure that they exist?)  The photos are pretty horrific.  Hmmmm….maybe I should get a library book on it.  How would I tactfully request THAT?