About Multicultural Children’s Book Day
The overall mission of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature event is primarily raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but also to get more of these books into classrooms and libraries.
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, the co-founders of this wonderful event, Mia from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie from Jump Into a Book are on a mission to change all of that. Another goal of this exciting event is to create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.
“MCCBD team hopes to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, the multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.”
I want to give out a special shoutout to Tuttle Publishing who were kind enough to send me copies of Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories and More Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories both written by Florence Sakade and illustrated by Yoshisuke Kurosaki. Thank you!
Big Thank you to the MCCBD 2015 Sponsors ~ Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold Sponsors: Satya House, MulticulturalKids.com, Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library Guild, Capstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books, The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing, Rainbow Books, Author FeliciaCapers, Chronicle Books Muslim Writers Publishing ,East West Discovery Press.
Our Recommended Read
Title: Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories | Author: Florence Sakade | Illustrator: Yoshisuke Kurosaki | Publication Date: November 27, 2012 (originally published in 1959) | Publisher: Tuttle Publishing | Pages: 112 | Recommended Ages: 5 to 14 | Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Summary: Playful goblins with long noses, magic tea kettles and a delightfully brave hero who just happens to be one inch tall-these are some of the wonderful characters you’ll meet in this collection of the 20 best-loved Japanese children’s stories. Drawn from folklore and passed down for generations, these classic tales speak of the virtues of hard work, humility, kindness and good humor-“Once upon a time . . .” has never sounded so inviting.
Commemorating the 60th anniversary of one of our all-time best-selling titles. With a new foreword, each story has been lovingly revised and reset, and all the sparkling illustrations appear in color for the very first time. With so many enchanting stories to choose from, young readers will have a delightful time deciding which is their very favorite.
This classic book has had 51 reprints and sold over 175,000 copies since it was first released in 1953. Other titles in our growing series of Asian Children’s Favorite Stories include Favorite Children’s Stories from China and Tibet, Balinese Children’s Favorite Stories and Filipino Children’s Favorite Stories.
Featured as Picture Book of the Day!
My Thoughts: Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories is an incredible collection of 20 short Japanese folk tales passed down generation to generation. While this book was originally published in 1953, the life lessons underscoring the importance of humility, kindness, and honesty are timeless and universal, with similar themes appearing in stories originating across a variety of cultures. We had the pleasure of reading the 60th Anniversary edition of the book, proving how superb story-telling, in tandem with charming illustrations, can capture the imagination of many generations of children.
The stories featured in this collection are filled with magic and whimsy. Among the characters featured include tengus – goblins with noses that can grow to be many, many miles long (The Long-Nose Tengus); tanukis – mischievous creatures who can change shape (The Tanuki and the Magic Fan); Little One-Inch, a child given to a childless couple who prayed for a baby and were gifted with a tiny hero (Little One-Inch); stone Jizo statues that come to life (The Grateful Statues); and many stories which include monkeys as characters due to their importance in Japanese religious beliefs, literature, and culture. There were many opportunities to explore elements of Japanese culture through these stories.
As a mother who still reads to her children (ages 8 and 11) every night, I am always looking for books that lend themselves well to being read aloud. Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories is an excellent choice as a read-aloud book, especially if you have multiple children with varying ages as your audience. Each story takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes to read, but to get the most out of the story, you should allow an additional 5 to 10 minutes for discussing each story.
One particular story comes to mind: The Rabbit in the Moon. In the story, the Old Man in the Moon comes down to determine which of the monkey, the fox, or the rabbit is the kindest. He comes down from the moon and and tells the three animals that he is hungry. The fox and the monkey gather food to share with the Old Man, but the rabbit is unable to find anything. Instead, he offers to throw himself in the fire to be cooked and eaten. The Old Man declares that the rabbit is the kindest (although he does state he should not harm himself) and brings him to live with him in the moon.
This story resulted in a lively discussion about kindness and generosity but also about how there are times in our lives where our need may be great and we may not be able to give very much of ourselves; while there are other times when we do have more to give. It is not necessary to sacrifice yourself to the extent where it is bringing harm to yourself or others around you; but rather, we give what we can when we can and also ask for help when we need it. This story in particular made my children’s jaw drop (when the rabbit offered to cook himself for the Old Man) so a process of deconstruction was necessary! Many of the other stories have high levels of tension such as this.
Peppered throughout the text are delightful watercolor illustrations by Yoshisuke Kurosaki who, according to his biography, “helped define the style of Japanese children’s book illustrations in the 20th century”. The illustrations serve to provide a simple break in the relatively lengthy text blocks. They are beautifully simple and they depict the characters engaging in the main events taking place in the story. The illustrations are the perfect complement to the text.
My Bottom Line: Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories is a wonderful collection of 20 folk tales emerging from the Japanese culture. The stories and illustrations are simply magical. They are the perfect length to read at bedtime and are sure to elicit a lively discussion about the themes covered in the stories … kindness, generosity, sacrifice, and honesty. I recommend this beautiful book as a read aloud bedtime book for children ages 5 to 12.
If you think you might enjoy Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories, you may also want to check out a second book containing additional stories, More Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories, also published by Tuttle Publishing.
* This book was provided to me by the publisher free-of-charge for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2015, in exchange for our honest reviews. All opinions expressed are our own. *
How YOU can Participate in MCCBD!
1. Spread the word about MCCBD and the need for diverse children’s books! Remember our hashtag, #readyourworld
2. Like MCCBD on Facebook to learn more about authors and books that celebrate diversity.
3. Make a donation. Click here to help get multicultural books into the hands of kids who need them most.
4. Bookmark MCCBD blog to have continual access to an extensive list of diverse children’s books from around the world.
5. Follow MCCBD on Pinterest to keep the inspiration coming. This board is filled with great books and activities related to diversity.
6. Get a copy of Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories and/or other children’s books that celebrate diversity to share with your loved ones from this Linky List.