Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories
"Such stories as these, while appealing to children everywhere, are still true expressions of Japanese character and customs. As such they are sure to create a sympathetic understanding for the culture and ways of another land." (text taken from asianamericanbooks.com)
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Review of Japanese Children's Favorite Stories
This book is charming. It is reminiscent of the books of fairy tales I read as a child -- but they are all set in Japan. For example, one story, "Peach Boy", is about a very kind old couple who want a child, but have none. One arrives inside a peach: he is one inch tall, brave, and committed to getting rid of the ogres on a close island. Along the way, animals that normally would be enemies join him, coexisting to win the battle. This story reminded me of "Tom Thumb" and "Thumbelina", two European-based fairy stories with the same initial premise. How interesting to compare the values and adventures of these three fairy tale characters!
Among the 20 stories included in this volume are stories about monkeys, spiders, rabbits, goblins, as well as stories of magic and goodness coming to those who are kind and honest. In other words, they are wonderful fairy tales!
The illustrations are charming, allowing the readers to see the author's intentions. Not drawn for realism, the illustrations provide the reader with visuals of Japanese culture: traditional Japanese clothing, buildings/rooms, furniture, etc. The pictures are not as front-and-center as the pictures in the Chinese Children's Favorite Story book (also reviewed), so these stories may not be as great of a show-and-tell read aloud. However, the stories are charming, funny, and good always triumphs evil.
My fourth grade son read this book and enjoyed them, noting that the story "Why the Jellyfish has no bones" is similar to the African fairy tale about why the giraffe has no neck and the Inuit story about why the Raven has black feathers. This insight provides a peak at what elementary teachers can provide to their students in terms of culture, geography, and a sense that all people had stories to explain natural phenomenon. In this way, the book could be used to introduce students to Japanese culture or, more broadly, as a means of comparing and contrasting cultures in terms of values, traditions, and story foci while meeting Common Core expectations.
Japanese Children's Favorite Stories
This collection of stories compiled by Florence Sakade truly holds a variety of Japanese stories. The stories show how Japanese folktales and stories are different from Western stories and folktales. The stories help to identify Japanese customs, traditions, and culture, among other things. However, these stories are similar to Western stories in themes and in what you glean from the stories. These stories can be very helpful in teaching students about the Japanese culture, as students seem to learn the best using literature and seeing the difference between cultures.
A deep look at culture through children's stories
These stories are truly fascinating. I read them to my daughter and was struck at just how different each is from typical Western stories for children. Although the stories contain recognizable themes, the narrative structure of the stories, and the endings in particular, are quite distinctive, and may well register with students as providing a unique cultural perspective.