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21 Wonderful Japanese Folk Tales Books for Kids

21 Wonderful Japanese Folk Tales Books for Kids

My introduction to Japanese folk tales was through a beautifully illustrated copy of Momotaro. In this book, Momotaro wears the traditional samurai armor and it was a glimpse into my Japanese ancestry. I’ve since sought out Japanese folk tales to read to my kids, searching in Japanese markets and bookstores when I am visiting family in California. About half of these books are from my collection. The rest I researched and found in my public library. Since there are 21 books, I’ve broken them down:

  • Japanese Folk Tales About Friendship
  • Momotaro (Peach Boy)
  • Japanese Crane Folk Tales
  • Japanese Joke Tales
  • Japanese Folk Tales with Surprise Endings

What Japanese folk tales are you familiar with? Can you add to this list? Thanks so much!

21 Japanese Folk Tales for Kids

Japanese Folk Tales About Friendship

Both these stories are about Buddhist priests and a special friendship with a rescued animal.

Tanuki’s Gift: A Japanese Tale by Tim Myers, illustrated by R. G. Roth

A tanuki is a small badger-like animal like a raccoon-dog. It’s an actual animal in Japan, but it has also taken on mythological qualities as a shapeshifter trickster. This story is based on A. B. Mitford’s 19th century Tales of Old Japan which he derived from a phamphlet that appeared as early as 1688.

Tanuki Japanese raccoon dogTanuki, from Mother Nature Network

This is a lovely story of friendship and sacrifice. A Buddhist priest spends all of his days praying in his little hut. The poor people bring him food and clothing so he doesn’t have worry about worldly things. One day, a tanuki ask for shelter during a bitter cold night, and they become friends. For ten years, the tanuki came every night during the winter. Finally, the tanuki asks the priest for a way to repay him for his kindness. The priest admits he longs for three gold coins to pay for prayers so that he might enter Paradise when he dies. The tanuki then disappears for a long time and the priest mourns his departure. Finally the tanuki returns, having spent this time collecting gold ore and smelting it. The priest is overjoyed because the gift of friendship is what he realized he wanted all along. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

I am Tama, Lucky Cat: A Japanese Legend by Wendy Henrichs, illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi

The story probably originated during the Edo period, which was from 1603 to 1868. It is believed that Lord Naotaka li was the daimyō, a Japanese feudal warlord, in this story.Maneki Neko

The Maneki Neko is commonly in Japanese stores and restaurants as a symbol of good luck. This is the story of why its so popular.

Long ago in Japan, a cat found shelter in a run down Buddhist temple. The priest welcomed the cat and shared the meager food he had. He hoped to improve the lives of the villagers who worshipped there but they were as poor as he was. One day, the cat, named Tama, the Lucky Cat, by the priest, welcomed a warlord from under the shelter of a cherry tree just before it was struck by lightening. In thanks for saving him and his horse, the wealthy daimyō honored the temple with his patronage. [folk tale picture book, ages 4 and up]

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12 Exciting Medieval Times Books for Kids

12 Exciting Medieval Times Books for Kids

Kids who like knights, princesses, and castles will like books set in Medieval Times. Adam Gidwitz writes in the back notes of The Inquisitor’s Tale:

I hope, if nothing else, this book has convinced you that the Middle Ages were not “dark” (never call them the dark ages), but rather an amazing, vibrant, dynamic period. Universities were invented, the modern financial system was born, kingship as we know it developed — and so did the modern strife the currently grips our world.

It was a time when people were defining how they lived with the “other,” with people who were different from them. The parallels between our time and theirs are rich, poignant, and, to often, tragic.

The Middle Ages, or Medieval Times, in Europe was a thousand-year period of history that started in 500 AD until 1500 AD. It gets a bad rap in books as evidenced by 1o Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You’d Get From Fantasy Books:

  1. Peasants were a single class of people who were more or less equal to one another.
  2. Inns were public houses with big common halls below and rooms above.
  3. You would never see a woman engaged in a trade such as armorer or merchant.
  4. People had horrible table manners, throwing bones and scraps on the floor.
  5. People distrusted all forms of magic and witches were frequently burned.
  6. Men’s clothing was always practical and functional.
  7. Servants were all low-class people.
  8. Medicine was based on pure superstition.
  9. The most powerful military force consisted of armored knights riding into battle.
  10. Only men’s pleasure was important.

I found different kinds of books to bring this period alive from fiction books to a folk tale, a play, and an art history book on castles and knights. If your kids like this period, there’s a lot of options to see what life was like just through books.

How about you? What period of history fascinates you?

10 Exciting Medieval Times Books for Kids

10. Marguerite Makes a Book by Bruce Robertson, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt

Set during the 1400’s, Marguerite’s father is the most famous manuscript illuminator in Paris. He’s trying to finish a prayer book for Lady Isabelle, his patron, but his hands are trembling with age lately. Together, he sets off with his daughter to get the materials they need. Marguerite uses egg whites, goose feathers, gold leaf, powdered silver, soot, honey, parsley, spices, wax, Lapis lazuli stone and other natural materials to make the paint for the book. With careful concentration, she finishes her father’s book, just in time for Lady Isabelle’s name day event. The illustrations in this lovely picture book include illuminations decorating the text, just like Marguerite’s father would have done. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

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Hawaiian Folk Tales & Children's Books

Hawaiian Folk Tales & Children’s Books

When I was a child, a relative in Hawaii from my mother’s side that I’d never met sent me two picture books as a Christmas present. It was a little weird because they didn’t send a gift for either of two siblings, nor did they indicate that this was a shared gift.

Pua Pua Lena Lena and the Magic Kiha-Pu by Guy & Pam Buffet, illustrated by Guy Buffet

One book was a Hawaiian folk tale of Pua Pua Lena Lena, a kind of magical dog who has to  retrieve the kiha pu, a conch shell that sounds an alarm if an enemy is approaching the kingdom, from spirits who have stolen it. This is his punishment for accidentally stealing plants from the Royal Garden in order to make awa tea for his master.

I also received a beautiful version of Momotaro, the peach boy warrior, a Japanese folk tale.

Both books were treasured favorites of mine, and I still have both copies. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to visit Hawaii a few times. My husband played golf for the University of Hawaii which is another connection that brings us back there.

I’m working on a series of Folk Tale posts from Asia and the Pacific Islands. Korea was my first. Today’s post celebrates Folk Tales from Hawaii. Because I had trouble finding these stories, I’ve also included Hawaiian notable picture book biographies.

p.s. I also have a post on Pearl Harbor Books for Kids.

p.p.s. This is the second post of my Folk Tale series. The first one is 16 Great Korean Folk Tales for Kids. Read more…

31+ STEM Books to Inspire Girls

31+ STEM Books to Inspire Girls

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday, which found that 15-year-old girls around the world, outperform boys in science – except for in the United States, Britain and Canada. via The Guardian

Breaking down theNational Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores by gender, girls averaged 151 points (out of a possible 300), three points higher than for boys in the first-ever Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL) assessment was given in 2014. via The Atlantic

So what is it? Girls are better than boys at science? Or girls are worse at science? Or girls in higher socio-economic brackets outperform boys?

What’s the end goal? Karen Peterson, the chief executive of the National Girls Collaborative Project, says  it’s to “increase their persistence and resilience in STEM studies so that those early kernels of interest translate into meaningful careers.”

As a mom of two girls, I am of the opinion that it’s the parents’ job to pay attention to where the child leads you. For my oldest, her path is towards art school. For my middle daughter, a STEM career mixed with an entrepreneur’s drive seems likely. And yet, the big thinkers at RISD think they very well will end up at the same place. For what is STEM without creativity?

If you peruse the timeline of female scientists and their picture book biographies, one thing is clear. If someone really wants a career in science, she’s not going to let anything stop her. Here’s to the progress women have made in science, and here’s to supporting all girls as they find their passion in life.

What are your favorite STEM books that inspire girls? Thanks for sharing!

STEM Picture Books for Girls

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Life might have its failures, but this was not it.

The only true failure can come if you quit.

Rosie is an closet inventor after she thought her cheese hat python deterrent hat was ridiculed. She uses the hat with some tweaks into a flying contraption for her aunt and learns that failure is the problem solving tool of an engineer. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Ada didn’t speak until she turned three, but when she did, she was full of questions, especially about why? Turns out, she has all the traits and the heart of a great scientist (though she’s also an exhausting kid to raise!). [picture book, ages 4 and up]

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

A little girl has an amazing idea that she’s going to make the most magnificent thing! All she has to do is make it. But making her magnificent thing leads down a frustrating path of trial and error. This book best reflects–Inspiration + motivation + passion = Endless possibilities. The girl’s emotional journey reminds a child not to quit. [picture book ages 3 and up]

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Dr. Seuss Museum Oh The Places They Don't Go

Dr. Seuss Museum Invite then Crickets

I wanted to share some of the correspondence that I’ve had with Dr. Seuss Museum’s Director of Public Relations and Marketing, Karen Fisk. It started after this AP article was published and I was included in the AP video.

Oh the Places You’ll Go! Dr. Seuss museum opens its doors Associated Press

“The first national museum dedicated to the beloved children’s author and illustrator Dr. Seuss has opened in his hometown of Springfield, Mass. But Theodore Geisel’s early controversial political illustrations are conspicuously absent.” (June 5)AP

Karen Fisk contacted me to invite me to visit.

 

May 25, 2017

Hi Mia,

I wanted to say hello and reach out to see if you would like to visit the Dr. Seuss Museum as my guest. Please let me know.

We have not yet completed the work we are doing to acknowledge and discuss the work Theodor Geisel did that you address in your most recent column, but we know it is important and complicated and needs to be discussed.  We intend to have programming and literature on the subject.

Hope to hear from you soon,

Karen

Karen Fisk

Director of Public Relations & Marketing

Springfield Museums & Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden Read more…

Diverse Children's Books

#DiverseKidLit Socioeconomic Diversity

Our theme for this #DiverseKidLit is socioeconomic diversity. Kids from all economic brackets should be able to find themselves in books – as well as to learn about the lives of others in different economic situations. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit

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New Back to School Picture Books GIVEAWAY!

New Back to School Picture Books GIVEAWAY!

Is it time to get back into the swing of school? Hopefully, not just yet! We have a few more weeks of summer and I hope you do too. But, it’s IS a good time to talk about school starting to ease any anxieties. These five books do the trick.

How about you? What are your favorite back to school traditions or books? Thanks for sharing!

p.s. A few more Back to School book lists here:

Top 10 Diversity Starting School Books

Top 10 Starting School Picture Books

Books for Back to School Issues

 

New Back to School Picture Books GIVEAWAY!

A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices by Sally Derby, illustrated by Mika Song

Six kids in grades kindergarten through fifth grade start school with anxieties and fears. Ethan, a kindergartener, hides something in his pocket for comfort. Zach in first grade worries about learning everything over again. Katie frets that her new teacher in second grade isn’t her old teacher in first grade. Jackie isn’t the only third grader to get dropped off early. Fourth grader Carlos wonders if he will make new friends. Fifth grade Mia has hearing aids that almost make her late. As each child navigates the first day of school, their free verse poems show how everything turns out fine. [free verse poetry picture book, ages 5 and up]

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Filipino-American Children's Books & GIVEAWAY

Filipino-American Children’s Books & GIVEAWAY

Mika Song and Isabel Roxas have teamed up to come up with Filipino and Filipino-American Children’s books which are few and far between. I only know Cora Makes Pancit by  Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, illustrated by Kristi Valiant.

Mika has a new book out from Charlesbridge Publishing and we are giving away a copy! We are also giving away two bilingual picture books illustrated by Isabel Roxas: Mang Andoy’s Signs and Araw Sa Palengke. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter. There will be three winners, one for each book.

A New School Year: Six Stories in Six Voices by Sally Derby, illustrated by Mika Song

Meet six diverse kids from grades Kindergarten through fifth grade who are entering a new school year. They are both nervous and excited at what the first day will bring. Mika Song captures their hopes, dreams and fears with simple and engaging illustrations. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

Mang Andoy’s Signs by Mailin Paterno, illustrated by Isabel Roxas

A Philippine Children’s Book with dual language:Filipino and English. The art of persuasion is delightfully revealed in Mailin Paterno’s richly nuanced urban tale, illustrated with charm and zest of Isabel Roxas. Children will be all wiser to learn how you ask is just important as what you ask for. [bilingual Tagalog/English picture book, ages 4 and up]

Araw Sa Palengke by May Tobias-Papa, illustrated by  Isabel Roxas

I’m coming with Nanay! We’re going to the market. What would we see there? Who would I meet? Come, join us! Today is market day! Sasama ako kay Nanay! [bilingual Tagalog/English picture book, ages 4 and up]

How about you? Can you help us add to this list? Thanks!

 

Filipino and Filipino-American Children’s Books

Bahay Kubo illustrated by  Pergylene Acuña

This was one of my daughter’s favorite board books- she loved the silly vegetable characters and it’s a fun folk song to belt out. – Mika Song

[board book in Tagalog, ages 6 months and up]

Mang Andoy’s Signs by Mailin Paterno Illustrations by Isabel Roxas

A neat picture book full of charming Manila street scenes (hand-painted signs, street food and modes of transportation) that capture the ingenuity and nature of the people. – Mika Song

[bilingual English and Tagalog picture book, ages 3 and up]

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Summer Reading List for ages 8 and up (part 2 of 2)

Summer Chapter Book Reading List GIVEAWAY (part 2 of 2)

I’ve been “book tasting” or sampling two dozen or so middle grade chapter books to find books for my 12 year old son. I’m also reading for myself, trying to discover that possible Newbery gem in these piles.

From this list, I’m narrowing down my reading pile to:

  • Lemons by Melissa Savage (getting buzz)
  • A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold (for possible autism list I’m working on)
  • Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis (I do like magical realism)
  • Kid Beowulf: The Song of Roland by Alexis E. Fajardo (my son likes graphic novels and I’m also going to add to my Medieval/Middle Ages book list; a period of history that is growing on me)
  • Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying by Amanda Hosch (I have a spy/superhero chapter book list that I can add this one to)
  • A Dog Like Daisy by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (I might make a service dog book list)

How about you? What middle grade books are you loving right now?

p.s. I’m giving away 6 of these books. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.

p.p.s. Part 1 of this list here.

 

Summer Reading List for ages 8 and up & GIVEAWAY (part 2 of 2)

Race to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eager

I loved Hour of the Bees so I’m excited to read Lindsay Eager’s newest book that has a breezier feel than the slight melancholic heaviness of Hour of the Bees. 11 year old Fidelia Quail becomes an orphan where her parents are killed in a submarine of her own invention and now it’s up to her to escape a pirate who has kidnapped her, and figure of the mystery of a treasure he’s desperate to find on the bottom of the ocean. This book feels a little like Half Magic meets The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Lemons by Melissa Savage

There seems to be a growing buzz for Lemons, Melissa Savage’s debut chapter book. It’s 53 chapters of about 6 pages each. I personally find short chapters appealing because the pacing tends to be fast and thus hold my son’s interest. Nearly 11 years old Lemonade Liberty (Lem for short) is moving to a tiny town to live with her grandfather after her mother dies. It’s here that she makes a new friend who is determined to capture Bigfoot on film. This book reminds me of The True Meaning of Smekday thus far. I’m excited to read further. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Read more…