Tag Archives: library

Harold and the Purple Crayon activity

X and the Purple Crayon ActivityHarold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson is my children’s current favourite book. It was introduced to me by Isis Ixworth, a very creative, artistic and talented writer, currently working on her own children’s books. It really captures my 4 year old and 3 year old’s attention. It also engages my 1 year old, who normally potters around during story time. After researching it a little, it seems to be a “classic” in parts of America, but I had never heard of it until I read Isis’ post. Thankfully, although not available in our own library, it is available in Kawagoe City Chuo Library.(note on library collections below).

Harold and the Purple Crayon is the story of a young boy who goes for a walk in a world he draws for himself with a purple crayon. He gets tired and wants to go home to his bed, but first he has to find his window which he does when he remembers how to draw it. Crockett Johnson presents this imaginative story in a beautifully simplistic and an easily comprehensible style. Given that my children truly immerse themselves in Harold’s adventures, I wanted to do an activity that would interest them just as much. My 4 year old is very interested in writing at the moment, so I thought it would be fitting to make our own books and write our own imaginative stories with a purple crayon. I also had the advice of Expat Since Birth fresh in my mind; to encourage 4 year old to read English by having him read to his younger sisters.

My children are bilingual, with Japanese being their main language, although I speak English to them. My 4 year old developed an interest in writing Japanese, off his own bat, shortly after turning four. So I have been trying to support and expand his interest, while gently sparking the same passion in English. Today, he really enjoyed making his own booklet and then filling it with his own story. He was very interested how to write the words in English, he needed for his story. 3 year old enjoyed making the book too and then drawing for a short time, but she lost interest after drawing three pages. I thought this would be of more interest to her than him, as she is a visual learner and he is an auditory learner. Their little wonderful minds never cease to amaze me!

The materialsThe materials for making your own “book”;
purple crayon, paper, puncher, wool (or string or pipe cleaner or thread), scissors if you need to cut wool or thread

Using recycled paper, we folded the paper picture side in. The fold part is to the right of the page, the open part to the left. We initially put 3 pieces of folded paper, so 6 pages, in the booklet and punched holes on the open part. We then used recycled wool to tie the papers together. On the front page I wrote “and the purple crayon” and they entered their name above it. Then they drew their own stories. 4 year old ran out of pages, so I made a 2nd bigger booklet for him while he wrote key words on each of his pages drawn so far. He finished the 2nd booklet with thunder (as you do as an imaginative 4 year old) and wanted to know how to spell it, his first 7 letter word. Success! I think I will be keeping this book in the memory box. He really enjoyed regaling his story too and his little sisters thrilled in his performance.

Thunder and Lightning  Telling the story

English books at libraries in Japan

I have found that, of the libraries I have visited and researched, there is a good selection of “classic” English stories for children, especially those that were popular in the United States during Japan’s boom. I have found that newer titles of children’s books are not available in English, in this part of Saitama. However, between fairy tales and best-selling authors, such as Eric Carle, Leo Lionni, Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak, there are plenty to choose from.

Other activities I have seen online for Harold and the Purple Crayon

International Book Giving Day – with a bilingual twist! And City Chuo Library Kawagoe

This is a lovely idea I came across, for bilingual families to receive minority language books, thanks to one of my favourite bloggers Free But Fun posting a link to the innovative idea. It is very timely too, as just today I was pondering how difficult it remains to buy English books for children in our part of Japan. For people like me that is, who refuse to buy online for fear of becoming addicted to it! Today, we ventured to a library we hadn’t been to before. It has a much better choice of English books than the library we frequent, but with this great idea from Journal of a Bilingual Family maybe we’ll be receiving more English books in the post! For details of this fun and original idea for International book giving day, please see the blog linked below. For more on City Chuo Library Kawagoe, please scroll down.

The International Book Giving Day – with a bilingual twist!.


City Chuo Library is situated in Sankubocho, Kawagoe, about a 20 minute walk from Kawagoe station. They have quite a good selection of English books for children, located on the ground floor. They have little tables with chairs for children to read at and “stadium seating” (3 rows! Pictured below) for storytime and kamishibai performances. You can borrow up to 10 books for 2 weeks upon securing membership. To become a member you need proof of your address in Japan in the form of an alien registration card or Japanese license. The card is valid for the 5 principal libraries in Kawagoe. Their system also allows you to return borrowed books to any of the 5 city libraries. These libraries include the one at the Kurasse building beside Kawagoe station and the large Nishi library, which also has a good selection of English children’s books. Like most of the libraries in Japan, the City Chuo Library has an online system where you can check availability of book and reserve them in advance. The system is currently only available in Japanese. If you wish to use the online facilities you need to create a 4 digit pin number when you apply for your membership. Membership is instant upon filling out a form.

The library has plenty of free parking, toilets, a baby changing area and a nursing room (pictured below). It is open 6 days a week, generally closing on Mondays. Tuesday to Friday it opens from 9.30am to 7pm. Saturday, Sunday and public holidays it opens from 9.30am to 6pm. The library will close for a computer system upgrade from the 12th of February to the 25th of February.