My Mixed Race Family: The Questions, The Hopes, and The Joyful Discoveries

As Eddie and I begin to think about starting our family, we have been having some interesting discussions late into the night. They go something like this…”So what will our children be?” “Well first and foremost, they will simply be children. After that, quarter Japanese, quarter Chinese, half Caucasian.” “Yeah but if we break down the Asian half, don’t we have to break down the Caucasian half into Swedish and English?” “Don’t we have to specify Singapore Chinese instead of mainland Chinese?” And on it goes in our discussion of identity crisis, multiculturalism, and the joys and perplexities of creating a mixed race family.

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I remember early on dreaming of having bilingual babies running around with an adorable mix of Japanese and English bubbling from their sweet mouths. However, I have since then come down to earth and realized that taking care of little ones is the hardest, most self-sacrificing and draining (but also most rewarding!) job any human could take on, and as such, bringing the feat of true bilingualism into the mix might be just too much. All that being said, we do want them to be able to speak at a relatively advanced level of Japanese & maybe go to Japanese Saturday school in order to be able to converse with Eddie’s father and extended family in Osaka. We want them to fully experience the wonderful Grandpa I know he will be to them!!!:D<3

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So, I discovered three darling children’s books (via a wonderful blog called Julia’s Bookbag) that incorporate Japanese language and culture while still possessing what I look for in any children’s story: sweetness, magic, and innocence! They truly will sweep you away!

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The first has probably become my all-time favorite children’s story: “Sora and the Cloud” by Felicia Hoshino. The entire book is written in both English and Japanese (& as a bonus, the Japanese is incredibly simple so much so that even I, who has a pitiful grasp on the language, can read it). How cool to be able to read a story in two languages?!!?! And even if you don’t know Jpn, I think it would be beneficial for any child to see another language and experience its strangeness, to be awakened to the fact that the world is so much larger and mysterious than they ever thought possible, and to hear that Mom and Dad actually don’t know how to do something!

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I adore the simplicity of this story. How the everyday is still so beautiful: baby Sora just laying in his sun-filled crib like any baby does, going to the park with Mama, eating dinner in perfect chaos. Oh and I LOVE the baby-wearing in the story!

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This title page is also incredibly pivotal to the story and I love that! It’s like a little mystery and lesson in noticing what we normally skip over!

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Anyway, the story goes that Sora discovers this cloud and goes on an incredible adventure.

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Without giving too much away, this story is about a child relating their past experiences (even those experiences as a small infant) to the amazing present and likewise relating their present sensorial experiences to their memories. Wow! Could it get any more powerful?! I was, as Sora and the cloud were, “swept away.”

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And finally, it has this awesome page at the back that explains what each little Japanese phrase means and has some Japanese cultural references as well. Babies and toddlers will likely opt out from this one, but I think this page will make the book come alive for older children.

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The next story is pure fun! “Pot-san’s Tabletop Tales” by Satoshi Kitamura is not so much a delving in Jpn culture/language as it is an embracing of Jpn ‘kawaii’ animation style! It’s just so cute!!>.<

IMG_1814I love that this book reads like a very young children’s story but appears like a chapter book with 4 little story vignettes that explore the worries and fun of making new friends and trying new things!

IMG_1822I feel like this is a great book to read with your baby (yes, with your baby!). The stories are very short and incorporate a lot of dialogue. Baby will be able to hear your inflections and will be joyously stimulated by the bright colors of the illustrations!

IMG_1825And, if you know me, any book that has a “Miss Salt” is a winner in my book!

IMG_1855The last book on the list is “Kimonos” which is put out by the Kokeshi brand. I found this book to be surprisingly rooted in Jpn culture (family bathing, school uniforms, kimono). If read slowly, it really has some great Jpn language learning moments.

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It’s also highly interactive. It’s what I like to call a ‘pointing and peaking’ book; there are many activities that coax children to point things out and many flaps to peak under!

IMG_1872So cute and just think, you could get the actual dolls to match and play with!

I think these 3 books will make an adorable and teachable addition to our family someday! I’m curious to know, how are you incorporating multiple cultures/heritages/races/countries of origin into your mixed race family? Is this something that is important to you even if your family is not mixed race? Share with me your efforts large and small!! I’d really love to know!<3

xoxo chloe ella

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4 thoughts on “My Mixed Race Family: The Questions, The Hopes, and The Joyful Discoveries

  1. Once again my dear and beautiful little niece you have captured my heart! May God bless you and Eddie with many “wonderful little mixed-race creatures”. Beautiful children who will be raised to appreciate the beauty of cultural differences, who won’t have to experience racial identity crisis, and who understand that we are all God’s creation and were intended to live together in a kind, gentle,
    and peaceful global community. Peace Out! Victoria

    • Wow!!!! What beautiful words; I’m in tears! Thank you so much, Vicky! Your words are a precious blessing on mine and Eddie’s future and we appreciate it so much<3 If we can accomplish instilling those three things in our children, we will have accomplished something! I'm so glad we will have such a supportive network of family including especially you to accomplish this feat! Thank you again<3 Ever the hippie dippies, peace out to you too!;P

  2. Hello! I came across your website when I was looking into Fecilia Hoshino. I’m originally from Okinawa, Japan and my husband is first generation American. His parents came to America from St. Vincent island in the carribean. We have three very active amazing kids (2 boys and 1 girl). I’m exclusively speaking Japanese to the kids, so they speak mainly in Japanese currently. When I see other multi racial couple and families, I get very excited and puts smiles on my face! You two are such a beautiful couple!!
    We have Sora and Cloud, but not the others that you mentioned. So, I will check them out!

    • Thank you so much for reaching out and commenting such nice things! I love to see mixed race families too. Since this blog post we have grown by one! Our baby girl is almost 9 months old now and is wonderfully rambunctious just like your children! That’s so cool that they are fluent Japanese speakers! Wow! My husband is from Osaka. Since I am home with her all day she is mainly exposed to English but she knows and understands many phrases in Japanese, her favorite being “Denki o keshite” She loves to use the light switch lol. Glad to hear you will check out these books! Another of my favorite Japanese children’s book authors is Kaya Doi; her stuff is so adorable. I don’t really spend much time here on the blog now but if you have an Instagram I would love to connect. My handle is @make.it.quirk
      Xoxoxo

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