On Thursday of this past week, I was assigned to read a book to the fifth graders at our local elementary school. (Usually the library volunteer books are only in Japanese, but I am American so I choose an English book and also the same book in Japanese. Both are read concurrently.)
I found the above two books (actually the same book–original is in English, the other is translated into Japanese) at our Fukushima Prefectural Library.
I love this book by John Burningham because it gets the kids thinking. And also the fact that the library already owned it in English made it an obvious choice.
So I read it to the fifth graders, and they seemed to really like it. And then, for the first time ever, we went to the local public preschool, where we read the same books there.
I’m hoping that the public libraries (we have two–prefectual and city) will purchase more English picture books–very simple ones. They do have picture books in English, but a lot of them are beyond the level of children that don’t know English.
I’d love to see more toddler books, more easy-English books. Books focussing on basic themes like emotions and daily routines and manners. If you don’t know what I mean, something like Karen Katz’s Excuse Me!I think all teachers of English to little kids in Japan love books like these! (And the kids love them, too.)
Beverly Cleary was a librarian when she started writing, and in her second memoir, she told how she went to read to kids who were still learning basic English. They did not understand the book she had chosen very well because it was too difficult. It was a learning experience for her to choose a simpler book.