The School Library Journal recently reprinted World Vision's "Eight Tips for Talking to Kids About the Tragedy In Japan", adding to it a list of book recommendations to help with discussion, children's curiosity about Japan, or for dealing with fear about earthquakes and tsunamis. I highly recommend reading World Vision's tips, especially if you have younger children, who might have overheard some of the news, lately.
And, I found a few of the suggested books at our library. Caught off guard by the scope of devastation coming across the Internet from Japan, I didn't pay close enough attention to who was in the room, as the news stories played, and the children, even my youngest, heard and saw more than they could process alone. These books, as well as some of the tips above, have been very helpful in answering questions, and restoring their sense of calm.
We read Tsunami! by Kimiko Kajikawa, to go along with E's robin collage, because Ed Young uses paper, and cardboard collages to illustrate perfectly, the devastating power of a tsunami, as it destroys a coastal village. But, in this story, the quick thinking, and sacrificial act of one man, saves the lives, if not the homes, of the villagers.
It's a good story, because it focuses on people helping each other, and offers a hope for the future - that bad times, and good times wash in, and out like the tide.
We also read CHIBI: A True Story from Japan, about a Tokyo community's concern for the welfare of a small duck, and its family. This story deals with a flood, instead of a tsunami, but the central theme of community joining together to help, even the least of its members, is similar to what we are seeing out of Japan, today.
The children enjoyed the peek at life in modern Tokyo, and the inclusion of a number of Japanese words, with a small English/Japanese dictionary, and pronunciation guide, at the back.
And finally, I also checked out Jim Haskin's Count Your Way through Japan, which is not on the School Library Journal's list, but came up in our library listing of children's books on Japan.
It turns out to be a very good anthropology/geography picture book, counting its way (in Japanese) through the Japanese culture, and map. Eight, for instance, is for the eight major geographical regions of the country, something of interest the children had picked up from the news (and from a previous a interest in Pokemon), and something they were happy to learn more about.
Three is for the three things the Japanese people learn early in life to fear in nature - "earthquakes, fire, and typhoons", with a few paragraphs explaining those events, and why they are a problem in Japan. The information is presented simply, in a matter of fact style, two to three paragraphs per number, and accompanied by a page of ink, and watercolor illustrations, for each item.
We will be looking for more of this series, which includes counting your way through Africa, the Arab World, Canada, China, Korea, Mexico, and Russia.
Of course, if you're interested in geography, and history books and ideas for children be sure to check out the weekly Geography/History link-up over Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.
It's great to be a homeschooler.