After traveling to Europe last month, my children’s eyes have been opened to the beauty and adventure in world cultures. So upon our return, I’ve been actively seeking tools that help us explore other countries. These tools include books, such as the one below, which teaches Japanese culture and language. If I can’t physically take my children to new countries, I rely on materials like these to help us travel there in our imaginations.
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Exploring Japanese Culture
A bilingual children’s counting book, Megumi’s First Trip to Kyoto tells the story of a young girl – Megumi – who is traveling with her grandfather for the first time to Kyoto to celebrate her birthday. On their long train ride from their home town of Sabae, Megumi’s grandfather helps her pass the time by having her imagine ten different things (one for each year she’s lived) that she’ll see on her first visit to the city. The reader learns to count from 1 to 10 in Japanese during the process.
Author Alexandra Parsons has cleverly woven Japanese words into the story in such a way that their meaning is clear, although she also includes the pronunciation and English words for the reader’s convenience. And at the back of the book, Parsons includes a page dedicated to fun facts about Japan, another page with the numbers one through ten listed in English, Japanese, and even the Japanese symbols for each one. Lastly, she’s added a map of Japan so that young readers can look up how far it is from Sabae to Kyoto.
Beatrice Favereau’s watercolor illustrations are soft, warm, and engaging for children. But what I love best is how Parsons incorporates culture into the story. From oshiya to bonsai to Hanami, we were fascinated to learn about different Japanese traditions.
Megumi’s First Trip to Kyoto is such a fun book it is great for any family library, but also for classrooms studying Japan, world cultures, family, grandparents, relationships, travel, Asia, counting, birthdays, traditions, and so much more.
About the Author
Alexandra Parsons is a Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholar, and this book incorporates various aspects of the Japanese culture that she witnessed and participated in during her visit in 2005. She is an English teacher and Learning Specialist at a private school and lives with her family and two dogs in Florida.