This weekend I took my son Emmett (now six) to see a wonderful Japanese animated film called “Light of the River” at the BAM Kids Film Festival in Brooklyn, NY. We loved this charming film about a family of displaced river rats who use their smarts and family bonds to escape many perils while trying to get back to their beloved river home. The BAM Kids Festival is in its 13th year and introduces kids to 66 films from 23 countries — a terrific way for young ones to “travel” and learn about other cultures.
Before the movie started, the festival organizer asked the kids to think about 1) what they liked about the movie, 2) what they didn’t like about the movie and 3) why. This film was for 4-7 year olds and the organizer pointed out to parents that these three questions provide the seeds of “critical thinking”. Taking young children to well-made films like this – and then engaging them in talking about what they saw – is an excellent way to get children engaged in analytical thinking at a young age, and build up media literacy skills. Plus, in watching “Light of the River” Emmett got to see Japan (in animated form) and hear Japanese for 75 minutes (a talented actress read the subtitles out loud right in the theater). He loved the movie and we are still talking about it two days later!
You can watch a trailer for “Light of the River” below. Sorry, there are no subtitles here, but after a few sessions with Little Pim Japanese your kids should be able to help you out!