Whether you are discussing colors with a toddler, introducing a preschooler to the country of Japan, or simply looking for some beautiful Japanese photos to mull over or draw, Japan in Colors by Sara Louise Kras is a wonderful book to begin with. From pagoda buildings to monks in prayer to gorgeous cherry blossoms, it features a lovely variety of Japanese culture that will delight both children and adults.
Each two-page spread in the book features large, detailed photos of real places, people, and animals from Japan, along with a small paragraph about them. Within the paragraph, the colors in the photo are detailed to help explain the nuances of each photo, since they may not be so obvious. It is also, of course, a book about colors!
The first spread, for example, features three beautiful Japanese macaques. The caption explains that the monkeys have golden fur and red faces—though we might consider them a brownish color with pink faces without the description. This will help older children who already know their colors learn how colors are often displayed in varying shades when it comes to real-life scenarios.
Other beautiful images that parents can expect to encounter in the book include Mount Fuji, a Japanese rock garden, pieces of sushi, and green tea growing. These things are so wonderful because while the book gives you a great introduction to each of them, they inspire projects, lengthy conversation, and more reading afterward. For example, the photo and description of sushi led to us drawing sushi and then making it ourselves out of play-dough—then pretending to eat it with “chopsticks” (which were actually clay sculpting sticks that happened to be the perfect shape and size). She also wanted to go to a real rock garden (I promised to find one), to look up more photos of macaques (which we did; she remembered seeing them on the program Life), and have a long discussion about the tea. She just couldn’t believe it was “growing like tomatoes” and wanted to know exactly how it “got to be wet to drink.”
The book also displays Japanese characters, which children are sure to find amazing—particularly if they are already learning or know the alphabet. Geisha performers, origami animals, and a robot (which freaked my daughter out a little!) are also described, as well as cherry trees, the red Tokyo Tower, Buddhist priests, and a baseball game. At the end of the book, you can find a few Japanese phrases, a map of Japan, and photos of the Japanese flag and yen.