bilingual japanese books for kids

Bilingual Japanese Books for Kids

I am always delighted to help find books for kids. A young USAF family being reassigned from Japan sent me an email asking for book recommendations for Japanese themed and Japanese/English, bilingual books.  These are the books I’d recommend to keep the kids exposed to the Japanese language.

I just found out about Tuttle Publishing and they sent me the perfect book!

My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Michelle Haney Brown

This is a lovely picture book in ENGLISH but with Japanese words for each letter both in Hiragane and Kanji. There is also interesting tidbits of information about the Japanese culture that kids would enjoy. [picture book, ages 2 and up]

Japanese Themed Picture Books for Preschoolers

Here are more picture books with a reference to Japan.


I also have a post on Top 10: Japanese American Books and Teach Me Tuesday: Japan


Japanese/English Bi-Lingual Folk Tale Picture Books

I happen to have these Japanese Folk Tale books that I found in a Japanese bookstore in Orange County when visiting my mom. They are lovely little books on famous Japanese folk tales and are bi-lingual.

These books are great and have Japanese vocabulary words throughout both books as well as cover the holidays and traditions of the Japanese people. I learned a lot from them!

Japanese Themed Easy Chapter Book

The Story of Yuriwaka: A Japanese Odyssey is a short chapter book which would be good for the older son.


 A Haiku Poetry Book
This picture book is a tranlation of Haiku poems by Issa, a Japanese poet born in 1763 on a farm in central Japan. He began writing haiku as a young child.
I found these books that also might be good:
Recommendations from Readers
How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman, illustrated (gorgeously!) by Allen Say
Thank you to Rachel for this great recommendation! I have heard so much about this book but I don’t think I’ve read it yet! [picture book, ages 6-9]

To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.
bilingual japanese books for kids

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Rachel Watkins

    What about HOW MY PARENTS LEARNED TO EAT illustrated by Allen Say and written by Ina Friedman? One of my favorites!

    • To Julia’s Child,
      Yoko is one of my very favorite books to for so many reasons! Bullying, being Japanese, eating and trying new foods, and an example of the most wonderful teacher ever! Thank you for your comment!

  2. Wonderful post, great blog theme, continue the good work

  3. Karen

    My children absolutely loved “How My Parents Learned to Eat” and would ask me to read it again and again.

  4. Melissa

    You should try Take Me Out To the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon. It is about baseball in Japan and America. My 3 yr old LOVES it.

  5. Hi Mia,
    I just came upon your blog through the kid lit blog hop. Do you speak Japanese? I have some Japanese newsreels from WWII and am trying to use them in conjunction with a book I’ve written: PURE GRIT-HOW AMERICAN WWII NURSES SURVIVED BATTLE AND PRISON CAMP IN THE PACIFIC.
    I am trying to find a Japanese speaker to listen to them and give me the gist of what they are saying.

  6. Ann Oishi

    Trying to find books for baby grandson that have both English and Japanese words. I have found a few written in Japanese characters but cannot read the characters.

    Any suggestions?

    Thank you, Ann

    • Hi Ann,

      Tokyo Friends is good because it is written in English but has words in Japanese as well with alphabet pronunciation. Japanese Celebrations is also by same author with same format.

      My First Book of Japanese Words is a beautifully illustrated book that introduces young children to Japanese language and culture through everyday words.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Gender Bending Gifts for KidsMy Profile

  7. When my husband was first starting out as a Japanese language student, bilingual books, especially baby books, were so helpful! Bilingual children’s books don’t have to just be for children – they can really open up languages to language learners who quite a bit older, too… 🙂
    Jane recently posted…#diversekidslit – Sept 17, 2016My Profile

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