Saturday, November 2, 2013

Wabi Sabi Gets Kids Talking

“Wabi Sabi” written by Mark Reibstein, and illustrated by Ed Young is a story about a Japanese cat named Wabi Sabi, who wants to find the meaning of her name and ends up learning so much more. In The New York Times Reibstein states: “Wabi sabi is a way of seeing the world that is at the heart of Japanese culture. It finds beauty and harmony in what is simple, imperfect, natural, modest and mysterious. . . . It may best be understood as a feeling, rather than as an idea.” In the story Wabi Sabi travels from the city to the mountains to find the meaning of her name. Along the way she meets different animals, and asks them if they know the meaning of her name. Beautiful, oversized, collaged illustrations help support the story by drawing the reader into the story. A robust discussion began after I finished reading the book. We talked about the children's names as well as where the children's family originated from - Japan, Ireland, China, Vietnam, and New Jersey. When I asked them if their names had a special meaning some said yes, while others did not know. Those children who did not know were frustrated. One child suggested they go on a journey like Wabi Sabi to find out the meaning of their name. This is a great story to read to children because it starts a conversation that is about them and their family history. The children's names were the main focus of the art project we did together. I had the children write their names on a long strip of heavy white paper. I provided them with an array of art materials. They either visually represented the meaning of their name or created a beautiful design that reflected who they are. I also emphasized to the children that their artwork should have wabi sabi - beauty, imperfections, nature, and harmony. In the end I think everyone created artwork that was very unique and personal.