Bicultural Bedtime [home]
Where are you going?
Two Mrs. Gibsons
My Parents Learned to Eat
The Wakame Gatherers
I think bedtime is one of the most linguistically important times of the day. Reading a book develops closeness, language, and vocabulary. You and your child sit close together, focus on eachother, and in general have a perfect opportunity to learn vocabulary not usually found in everyday life.
So what language do you read in?
I wanted to have the "one parent, one language"(English for me, Japanese for my husband) kind of upbringing for Mia in order to facilitate her bilingualism. However, the reality is that sometimes her favorite book is Japanese. What do you do then? Say "no" and get a crying child?
Our reality is that both of us read books of the other language.
The interesting thing is that Mia, from age 1, seemed to know which book went with each parent. She would only bring me Japanese books to read when Daddy wasn't around. At different times in her short life, there were books she called "Daddy" books that she would never let me read even if he wasn't around.
Any way you decide to do it, here are some books I have found that are great for Bicultural children either because of language, culture, or bicultural content. Of course they are mostly English books (because I research in English!)
are you going?
This book is truly a bicultural and bilingual book! Open it from left to right and you get Eric Carle's illustrations of animals in English. Open it from right to left and you get Kazuo Iwamura's illustrations of the same story in Japanese. The stories meet at the middle with fold out pages of all the animals. Great for even 1 yr olds. Mia loved finding all the lady bugs in each picture!
I liked this book a lot because of its portrayal of a Japanese mother living in the home of her African American mother-in-law. It is a little too sophisticated for Mia right now, but I like the fact that it compares cooking, clothes, and lifestyles. Then it ends with the very apt "They were very different, but they had a lot in common. They both loved my father and they both loved me." I think it is the perfect message!
Ten Oni Drummers
This book is great for small children. It is a series of rhymed verses chronicling the appearance of 10 very non-scary oni (demons) who drum a little boy to sleep. It is great for counting, colors, and a little bit of Japanese culture thrown in.
How My Parents Learned to Eat
Okay, this book doesn't have the most engaging illustrations for a 2 year old. Also, it has a very simplistic view of some things (American sailor trying to eat sukiyaki with chopsticks), but I like it because it is a story told by a bicultural child. It shows that the child is comfortable in both cultures (eating with chopsticks or with knife and fork.)
My parents found this book and gave it to us for Christmas. I was a little doubtful at first, but Mia loved it! The bright illustrations, language using sound effects, and mouse protagonist are great. The author loves alliteration (you should hear my husband try to read it!). It gives a little peak into the sumo world, but it is more of a superhero story.
Mia hasn't gotten into this book yet. The text is a little advanced for a two year old. However, the portrayal of a Japanese/American girl with a bunch of other ethnically varied (different colored hair abounds) girls learning a traditional Japanese Obon dance really appealed to me.
The Wakame Gatherers
This book made me tear up. It's the story of Nanami-chan, and the day she goes with her grandma and ba-chan to the beach to gather wakame. She has to translate, forgets to speak the right language to the right person sometimes, and also touches on feelings left over from World War II. Excellent, excellent book. Mia was really happy to see that the father in this one was Japanese.
I've known about Rosemary Wells for a long time through Max and Ruby, but it took me a while to find this tale of a little girl (well, cat) who is ridiculted by her schoolmates when she brings sushi for lunch. Ouch. A little close to the bone, there? How many conversations have I had with other bicultural moms about this very topic? Either too American lunches at Japanese school, or too Japanese lunches at American school. I like this book because the mom is clueless, and while the teacher wants to help by starting an "international day", there is no real solution to Yoko's problem. She does make a friend, though, when one of the other students is hungry enough to try the sushi, and so things turn out okay.
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