May 312017
 

Books are such a wonderful way to travel the world with kids and to introduce them to new cultures. Thanks to mostly to Pokemon, my oldest son is fascinated with Japan, so we’ve been reading about its folktales, daily life, the language, and Japan’s unique blend of tradition and cutting-edge technology. Here are our top picks for children’s books about Japan!

Japan Children's Books | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copies of several books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Japan Children’s Books

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All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids is our go-to book for anything about Japan! There are many craft books for kids about Japan and many story books, but All About Japan blends stories, songs, history, crafts, and activities into a unique, engaging book that children will love! The two main characters that present the information are a boy and a girl, one from the countryside and one from the city. This is a great way to draw in young readers as well as introduce them to diversity within Japan. You also learn about fascinating aspects of the culture that might not read about elsewhere – did you know that Japanese children learn that Japan is shaped like a seahorse? Once you see it, you won’t believe you hadn’t noticed it before!

My younger son and I love doing the crafts (like samurai helmets and origami frogs), while my older son loves the language lessons. There are kid-friendly recipes for foods like mochi and Japanese pancakes and a primer on how to use chopsticks. And I must admit that they staged a sumo wrestling tournament one day, thanks to the section on martial arts! I love how everything is arranged thematically, so each topic (such as holidays and celebrations, or everyday life) blends all of these elements together into a fun mix that keeps you turning the pages. And my son immediately noticed how the illustrations are very similar to those in Japanese cartoons.

I highly recommend All About Japan to introduce children to Japanese culture and get them excited to learn all about Japan.

The Way We Do It in Japan is the story of an American-born boy with an American mom and a Japanese dad. When the family moves from the US to Japan, we go with him as he adjusts to his new home and learns about Japanese culture, such as eating with chopsticks and wearing slippers inside the house. This book is chock full of information, all introduced in a very engaging, kid-friendly manner. But what I really love is how the boy’s parents help him frame his experiences. Rather than slipping into better/worse, right/wrong comparisons between the two countries, they always say, “That’s just the way we do it in Japan!” They really nurture his sense of adventure, but the book also acknowledges the difficulty of moving to a totally new culture. When he becomes sad because he misses home, his new friends at school surprise him with a classroom feast of his lunchtime favorite from America – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!

 

Japan ABCs is a great overview of Japan for kids, giving fun facts about the culture and geography. For example, H is for Hanami (the Cherry Blossom Festival) and T is for Tokyo. Pronunciation is provided for Japanese words. There is even more information includes at the back, such as a craft for Children’s Day, a glossary, and resources for further exploration.

My Japan is another great overview for kids. It reminded me of Richard Scarry books, with simple illustrations of everyday life (such as a bedroom or the first day of school), accompanied by detailed, labeled drawings of objects in the pictures. It also includes information about festivals and holidays and instructions for different origami projects.

Older children will enjoy Art of Japan: Wood-Block Color Prints. It gives detailed information about how the prints are made and typical subjects, such as landscape prints and Kabuki theater. But even younger children can appreciate the beauty of this art form and the many examples included in the book.

Yoko’s Paper Cranes is a very sweet story about how to stay in touch with relatives who live far away. When Yoko and her parents move from California to Japan, Yoko misses her grandparents, with whom she had always been close. But then she remembers how her grandfather taught her to fold paper cranes, so she realizes sending these beautiful paper birds across the ocean is the perfect way to reconnect with her beloved grandparents. Wonderful story for young children, includes illustrations for making origami cranes.

Another book in this series is Yoko’s Show-and-Tell. When Yoko receives a special doll from her grandparents in Japan to celebrate Girls’ Day (a traditional Japanese holiday), she can’t resist taking it to school to show her friends, despite her mother’s admonishment against it. When rough-housing friends leave the doll in a terrible state, Yoko must admit the truth to her mother. Luckily there is a doll hospital where they can help the doll feel better, just in time for Yoko’s grandparents’ visit from Japan!

The Boy from the Dragon Palace is a fun story that kids will enjoy (especially because the main character is a snot-nosed kid!) The dragon king sends a gift to a poor flower vendor who has shown him respect. At first the vendor is confused because the gift is just a messy little boy who is very particular about how his food is prepared. But when it becomes clear that the boy really can bring him good luck – including wealth and comfort beyond the man’s imagination – the vendor quickly changes his tune. With time, however, he forgets his humble beginnings and starts to grumble about having to still prepare the boy’s food in a special way. When he turns the boy out of his palace, suddenly all of the riches disappear, leaving the dragon king to sigh and the little snot-nosed boy to observe that you just can’t help some people! They always want more.

Learn all about Kyoto in Megumi’s First Trip to Kyoto, a gentle story about a girl traveling with her grandfather. It is a beautiful book to learn about Japanese culture and Kyoto in particular. (Read my full review).

The Last Kappa of Old Japan is a wonderful bilingual fairy tale about the mythical kappa, a playful water creature. It is about friendship and courage as well as the importance of protecting our environment. (Read my full review).

Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan is a quirky tale about the attempts to get rid of a rat that has taken over a castle. The lord of the castle asks for help from the local temple, but the first two samurai cats it sends are quickly defeated. When the lord begs the senior monk for help again, he says he will send in his top samurai. Imagine the lord’s surprise when an old, decrepit cat shows up! A great story about patience and learning to look beyond the appearances. There is Japanese vocabulary sprinkled throughout the story, which is based on the principles of Zen Buddhism.

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Hop 2017 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fourth annual Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series and Giveaway! Follow along all month for ideas about sharing with kids the rich cultures of this vast and varied region. Also, be sure to enter the giveaway below and link up your posts at the bottom of the page.

For even more ideas, visit our blog hops from last year, 2015 and 2014. You can also follow our Asia and Australia & Oceania boards on Pinterest.

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Miss Panda Chinese on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 10 Fun Facts About Taiwan for Kids

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Chinese American Family: Visiting Locke and Connecting with California’s Rural Chinese History

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The Art Curator for Kids: Chinese Bronze Vessels with Abstract Zoomorphic Designs

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May 25
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May 31
All Done Monkey

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Giveaway

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APAHM Series and Giveaway: Grand Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

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  2 Responses to “Japan Children’s Books for Your Young Adventurers”

  1. In the classroom I use children’s books.

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