As I have posted before, my son is getting older and so I’ve been scouring the library for books which challenge the intellect.
On left, “The Arrival” by Australian Shaun Tan. It’s an amazing wordless book that tells an immigrant story. More for older kids and adults than tiny children, IMHO.
On right, “Rain Won’t” an English/Japanese book of a famous Japanese poem. I’ll talk more about this at the end of the post because it’s important.
“The Arrival” and “Rain Won’t” opened to random pages.
Another option for the thinking child is fun maze books! My library had many to choose from. Our libraries don’t carry comics in any form (even educational comics) so this is about as close to frivolity as it gets.
There is Japanese in them, but you don’t really need to read the Japanese to figure out what to do and talk about. Any language will do.
If you want to ask for the “Maze” books at your local library, maze=meiro 迷路 Some Japanese maze books can be quite complicated and an older child might enjoy them.
Now I want to talk about that poem “Ame ni Mo Makezu” (translated in the above book as “Rain Won’t”) by Kenji Miyazawa.
My edition of the book says that it may be the most famous poem in Japan. Here is a translation of the poem, so even if you don’t have the book you can read the poem to your child.
not losing to the rain
not losing to the wind
not losing to the snow nor to summer’s heat
with a strong body
unfettered by desire
never losing temper
always quietly smiling
every day four bowls of brown rice
miso and some vegetables to eat
count yourself last and put others before you
watching and listening, and understanding
and never forgetting
in the shade of the woods of the pines of the fields
being in a little thatched hut
if there is a sick child to the east
going and nursing over them
if there is a tired mother to the west
going and shouldering her sheaf of rice
if there is someone near death to the south
going and saying there’s no need to be afraid
if there is a quarrel or a lawsuit to the north
telling them to leave off with such waste
when there’s drought, shedding tears of sympathy
when the summer’s cold, wandering upset
called a nobody by everyone
without being praised
without being blamed
such a person
I want to become
So I definitely felt it was an important poem to share. And you know what, I’m not into music, but I think yesterday an “Ame ni Makezu” song was playing at my supermarket. So if I hadn’t found this little book, I would have been clueless about the song’s origins.
Check and see if you can find these books at your local library!