Crow Boy

Author and Illustrator Taro Yashima
Published by Puffin Books

Big words:
“kill time”

Caldecott Medal and Honor books are recognized by the American Library Association as “the most distinguished American picture books for children”. The new winners are often apparent at bookstores and libraries, but the old ones are worth seeking out for timeless vocabulary and read-aloud joy. Crow Boy is a 1956 Caldecott Honor book that allows read-alouders to transport listeners to an unfamiliar culture where they learn the values of acceptance, observation, perseverance, industry, and kindness. Synonyms for words toddlers hear frequently are embedded and recasted and well defined within context.

Readers fall in love with Chibi and empathize with the abuse he receives from his oblivious classmates, who fail to see the talents Chibi is developing as he struggles to attend school every day.  We cheer as Chibi’s gifts are recognized and valued by his community, and we wonder how many Chibis we know in our own lives.  Wondering this aloud lets families share a bit of introspection and personalizes the story.

Parents do super-multi-tasking when sharing this glorious classic.  Bathing little ears in vocabulary, introducing an impoverished, agricultural lifestyle, and teaching universal values.  This is one to own and read repeatedly.