Sometime back, I wrote a post about Benesse’s distance program learning for children, in particular their Shimajiro series of books.
In my household we have been reading these books fairly often to our young son, and he has really grown to love them in a way that surprised me. On several occasions he will run to his room and ask me to read of the books in the series (neatly organized on his bookshelf), and once that is finished he’ll proceed to the next and the next. Sometimes we’ll keep reading until the entire series (at least the ones we own) is exhausted, which is over 12 books! And it’s more than a passive interest, he’ll participate often and with increasing frequency is able to pronounce many of the words. There is no doubt these books have a major positive effect on his Japanese education.
Though he has shown some interest in English books, it’s not nearly at the same level of intensity.
Again, I want to highly recommend this series, especially to those who are raising one or more children bilingual Japanese.
Though the materials themselves are well made, I feel that part of his attachment is due to the fact we read these to him often (sometimes with just mommy, just daddy, or as a family), and try to make the stories as fun as possible with voice acting and interactive questions (the latter is built into the series). Also the fact we show him Shimajiro videos and play together with Shimajiro toys helps complete the educational “ecosystem”. It may sound a bit obsessive, but he has many other toys he is interested in and plays with daily. It’s just that Shimajiro seems to stick as something he enjoys as he gets older.