My kids are one-quarter Japanese and my mother’s side is from the Daimyo class, which is to say that they were feudal landowners located one hour from Hiroshima but this system changed starting in 1868 with Meiji restoration. I personally like reading about this ancient time in Japan but Grasshopper and Sensei and PickyKidPix have never shown any interest in that or anything ninja. My Japanese side has no real connection to ninja, a mercenary, than perhaps to have used them but my son loves all things ninja and we’ve progressed from ninja picture books, to ninja early chapter books, to now this action adventure chapter book:
Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja by Simon Higgins
Set in Japan during the time of the Shogun rule, Moonshadow is an orphan adopted into the Grey Light Order, a secret ninja group loyal to the Shogun. He must stop a hungry Daimyo (warlord) from developing a powerful new weapon from the west that would threaten the fragile peace finally established in Japan. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
But I still want to instill a little of my kids’ cultural heritage, so I thought that I’d plan a little family literacy activity based on Moonshadow in order to try out Pajama Jam Family Reading Time, from Scholastic.
Pajama Jam Family Reading Time Dinner
We started the evening out with sushi. That’s easy enough because my kids like sushi. It was purchased not homemade.
Yellowtail Collar: Some fish mongers throw this away but it’s considered a delicacy. It’s the bone around the head and typically served with soy sauce and grated daikon.
Live Uni (raw sea urchin) is hard to obtain here in Boston!
Chirashi is raw fish over sushi rice.
Dumplings would also work. I have a Mandu (Korean dumplings) recipe from my Korean Mother-in-Law that my kids beg me to make.
A dumping “factory”
Pajama Jam Family Reading Time Activity
Moonshadow begins with a test of skills that a young ninja must pass before getting a real assignment. It includes stealth breaking-and-entering, avoiding poison traps, and hand-to-hand combat.
My son had foils and face masks from his time spent last year learning how to fence so our activity involved sword play. For safety, I would recommend the fencing face masks which have wire mesh screens around the eyes and plastic foils with small balls on the end rather than points.
Pajama Jam Family Reading Time Reading Under the Covers
After such rigorous activity, we wound down with a flashlight reading of Moonshadow. It’s perfect because Moonshadow needs to break into a rival castle in the dark … so the dark helps us relate to the young hero. Once we finish this one, we have the sequel at the ready!
Moonshadow: The Nightmare Ninja by Simon Higgins
I think this series is just meant to be read in the dark, with a flashlight under the covers!
Scholastic and EVEREADY® invite YOU to read under the covers with your child! They have great resources including a book offer so that you can host your own Pajama Jam Reading Party! What book would you use?
p.s. Here’s a great activity on studying the moon shadow from Doodles and Jots.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.