Elementary teachers often ask our resource center for advice in choosing books about Asia. They know that their decisions about book purchases have a potentially lifelong impact on students’ attitudes, for as Katherine Paterson so aptly points out in The Spying Heart, “stories are not frills in the curriculum of life.” Paterson is an author with a rare gift for creating compelling children’s fiction, including five books about China and Japan, and is deeply aware of the profound power of stories. For many children, their first window on Asia comes from storybooks. Those books can entice, delight, inspire further study, and offer glimpses of worlds previously unknown. They can foster open-mindedness and an awareness of the existence of other ways of thinking and leading one’s life. They can help a child understand that a classmate came from a place which was more than just the site of a war.
Stories Are Not Frills: Literature about Asia in the Elementary Classroom