Around New Year’s, there was a book table set up at our local Japanese Canadian cultural centre. On it was a bilingual book I’d never seen before but had heard of called My Hiroshima by Junko Morimoto (Picture Puffin Book, 1992). After flipping through it, I quickly bought it with the intention of giving it to a friend whose mother was a Hiroshima survivor. I hadn’t really intended to read it to my daughter, but as it was now in the house I decided one evening to give it a go. My daughter is ten; she already knows about Hiroshima. We visited the Hiroshima Peace Museum in Japan when she was six — actually on her birthday — of which I wrote about in a piece called “Atomic Birthday” published in an anthology of writing called Northern Lights. Understandably, my daughter was none too pleased with my choice of book that night and she protested somewhat mildly, complaining that she would have nightmares, but then we talked a bit and recalled together our long ago Hiroshima visit in some arresting detail. As far as bedtime reading adventures went, I didn’t consider this one a particular success.
Several weeks passed when all of a sudden, I got a phone call one morning. It was my daughter, requesting that I bring My Hiroshima to school right away so she could do a spontaneous oral report on it for her class. Never one to resist an opportunity to promote a good book, I hurried over to the school with my copy. At lunch, my daughter came home and told me her report was a success. I told them Japan started the war, and America ended it with the bomb, and then I read the book to them. That was a succinct little report in and of itself! Although this wasn’t the first time my daughter had been inspired to recommend one of our night time reads to our classroom, I was glad she had found this particular book worth sharing. Of course, My Hiroshima deals with a tragic story — but it is written and illustrated by a survivor who remembers not only a terrible historical event but also the delights of her childhood in the city before its demise.
Making choices for bedtime reads can be a difficult business for parents, but sometimes the results can be surprisingly positive in ways you might not expect! Do you have any such experiences to relate? Do tell.