Junior Writers Reporting

“Hydrangea Group” reads A-bomb picture books to children

The “Hydrangea Group,” based in Fuchu, Hiroshima, offers read aloud sessions of A-bomb picture books at local schools and libraries each summer.

They read such books as “Paper Crane Journey,” which tells the story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who died of radiation-induced leukemia ten years after the atomic bombing, and “Hiroshima no Pika” (“The Flash of Hiroshima”), which conveys the horrific aftermath of the blast. Children listen with somber looks on their faces.

After reading aloud these books, members of the group ask questions like “How would you feel if you fell ill, like Sadako?” to encourage the children to think more deeply about war and the atomic bombing.

This year, Eiko Emura, 65, a resident of Fuchu and the founder of the group, chose a book titled “Searching,” which looks at belongings of the A-bomb victims. She read this book aloud at the Fuchu Town Library. Ms. Emura said that the sentence she most wanted to express to the children held the sentiment that the mineral uranium should be locked away. The text is accompanied by a picture of keys. Uranium was the compound used in the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The group and their read aloud efforts were born in 1980. Today, there are eight members, ranging from their 30s to their 60s. Sometimes they also read picture books which deal with social issues, such as environmental destruction and the defoliants used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

“I hope these picture books help open children’s eyes,” Ms. Emura said. “I want them to grow up to be adults who can make good decisions.” Picture books can help us understand difficult issues.

(Written and photographed by Saaya Teranishi,17)

(Originally Published on October 14, 2013)