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How My Parents Learned to Eat
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How My Parents Learned to Eat

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  809 Ratings  ·  173 Reviews
An American sailor courts a young Japanese woman and each tries, in secret, to learn the other's way of eating.
Paperback, 32 pages
Published April 27th 1987 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1984)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Love can be expressed in many ways...learning the customs of the one you love shows them that you value who they are. A great book for a child who has parents from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
Shu Xiao
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is such a cute little book! It tells the story of how a little girl's Japanese mother and American father learned to eat in American/Japanese ways because they really loved each other and wanted to pick up each other's lifestyles. In the end, they created a lifestyle of their own. It feels like a cute version of The Gift of the Magi. Ellen Say's art is once again very pleasing to the eyes. It would be a good book for kids who have parents from different cultures.
Laura Watson
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a great little book about a Japanese-American girl whose parents both learned how to eat with each other. Her dad was an American soldier in Japan who fell in love with her Japanese mom. He never asked her to dinner because he was too worried he could not eat with chopsticks. The mom thought that he did not ask her to dinner because he would think she did not know how to use a knife and fork. So they both secretly learned how to eat in the different ways. The dad tried chopsticks and th ...more
Morgan Logan
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This book is about a young girl telling a story about how her parents learned about one another culture. Her father john was an American soldier who was stationed in Yokohama, where he met her mother Aiko. He hoped to marry her one day, but they lived completely different lives. Their daughter takes us through their love story and how they manage to keep their relationship going. They were scared that their relationship wouldn’t last because of their cultures, but they soon realized it wasn’t a ...more
Jun 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful story to show that the way people EAT food is so much a part of their culture. The little girl in the story has a Japanese mom and an American dad and she explains that sometimes they eat with chopsticks and sometimes with knives and forks. She goes on to explain about how her parents met and that they were always too nervous to go out to dinner together because he couldn't eat with chopsticks and she couldn't use a knife and fork so they weren't sure which restaurant they wo ...more
Chloe Jackson
How My Parents Learned to Eat is a childhood favorite of mine. The story talks about a girl whose mom is Japanese and whose father is American. The book goes on to discuss her parent's different cultures especially how they eat differently. I think this is great to read at any elementary level especially if you have students in your class who are interracial or if you have a diverse class. For ELL students, each student can write about their culture and the different eating utensils that they us ...more
Maren Prestegaard
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have to say . . . this book was really interesting. Not often reading kid's books do I say "Huh. I learned something there."
Made the both of us ponder.
A Reading Rainbow selection.
Hope Chasteen
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this realistic fiction children's book. It could also be considered a multicultural book because the setting is in Japan and it talks about a sailor, therefore it could have been in the same time period of the second World War. It is a good read for children to be exposed to another culture and traditions other than their own. It is about a Japanese woman who meets an American Sailor and they start to like each other. The girl thinks he may ask her to go eat dinner with her, so she neede ...more
Madie Marie
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: multicultural
Multicultural book number 7- This book starts off with an American soldier who is in the navy and stationed in Yokohama. He meets a girl that he really likes and every day they walk through the park and talk. The solider wants to ask the girl on a date but he does not know how to eat with chopsticks. The girl wonders why he never asks her on a date and thinks better of it when she realizes she does not know how to eat with a fork and knife. But soon the head of the ship tells the solider that th ...more
Henna Patel
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Summary/Annotation: This story is about a little girl who tells us in the beginning that she uses chopsticks to eat and forks and knives as well. She talkes about the story of how her parents met. Her mother is Japanese and her father is an American sailor. This sweet story goes through the events of their relationship.

Response: This was a wonderful book with amazing illustrations. I really enjoyed reading this book because it kept me engaged. I thought it was a great book that discusses how imp
Nina G.
This book is about a little girl who talks about how her parents met in Japan and how they had to learn one another's cultures-especially when it came to eating! They were so nervous that they "secretly" learned how to eat the way their different cultures do. The illustrations are cute and follows easily with the book.

My response: I liked how this book was coming from a child's perspective. I think it can teach everybody that at the end of the day we all have our similarities. This book is an ea
Emily Johnson
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture-lesson
How My Parents Learned to Eat follows the story of how a young girl's parents met and fell in love despite cultural differences. Her mother was Japanese and her father was American. The cultural difference between them, such as how they eat, provided them with some relationship obstacles. The story follows these obstacles and how they overcame them.There are many things that both teachers and students can learn from this story. One of these lessons is that a lot of us are from multicultural back ...more
Naa-Shorme Aidoo
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Food is such an important and engaging part of culture that everyone can relate to. What I love about this story (so many things), is that it would never even occur to a young reader that it is not common in another culture to use a fork and knife. Once that reality is brought to their attention it becomes easier to inquire about other cultures and how they do things. This story presents multiple perspectives, the American, that most of our students here can relate to and the Japanese perspectiv ...more
Susen Saeed
Apr 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: text-set
A young girl tells the story of how her parents met in Japan. Aiko, her mother, was a Japanese school girl, and her father, John, was an American sailor. They met everyday for days, but they were both too nervous to ask the other out for dinner for fear of being made fun of for not being able to use chopsticks (John), or a fork and spoon (Aiko). To avoid being embarrassed, they enlist the help of others to teach them the ways of each culture. After finally going on a dinner date, they realize th ...more
Madeline Bergstrom
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Miss Balzaretti
The children’s book, How My Parents Learned to Eat, tells the story of a young Japanese-American girl retelling the story of how her parents met. The book focuses on the difference between how her Japanese mother and American father eat meals. Her mother using chopsticks and her father using a knife, fork, and spoon. The book shows that cultural barriers can be overcome and that learning things from different cultures can be exciting and helpful in making relationships with people who are differ ...more
Kathryn Anne
How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman and Allen Say is about a young girl who appreciates her multicultural lifestyle and explains the story of how her Japanese mother and American father met each other. She explains that sometimes her family uses chopsticks and that sometimes they use forks and knives and how for her it is natural. The girl’s father was in the military stationed in Japan when he met the girl’s mother. He asked her on a date and both assumed secretly that they would m ...more
Melanie Bates
How My Parents Learned to Eat

Summary: This is a picture book which relates to different cultures. In this story the young girl is describing that her family has different culture backgrounds, just as many other children do. The illustrations in this book are great and flow with the content really well.

Response: What I liked about this book is that the main character is describing her family of two different cultures. Many students may have parents from two different types of cultures therefore I
Taylor Melum
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tch-307
Citations: Friedman, Ina. (1984). How my parents learned to eat. Boston, MA. Houghton Mifflin Company
Genre: Cultural / family
Format: Picture
Reading level: 1
Theme/topic: Culture

Summary: An American military man is stationed in Japan and he meets a beautiful Japanese woman. She teaches him about her culture and they enjoy walking in parks and talking to one another. The American man invites the woman on a date to a nice Japanese restaurant but they are both nervous about this date. The man doesn't
Karissa Olson
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is realistic fiction and is a cool story about two cultures coming together. The story is about a young girls parent who met when her mom is a Japanese schoolgirl and her dad was a sailor. Both were nervous about eating each other traditional food and following social customs. Both, on their own learned and educated each other on one another’s culture. Now together they decided to raise their child celebrating both cultures, to make her one of her own. I liked how in the story the auth ...more
A Japanese-American girl tells the story of how her mother, Aiko, and her father, John, met while John was in the U. S. Navy stationed in Yokohama, Japan. John wanted to marry Aiko, but there was one problem--he'd never even eaten a meal with her! He wanted to have dinner with her, but first he had to learn to eat with chopsticks--and when he finally asked her to dinner, she had to learn to eat with forks, knives, and spoons. Neither one of them had an easy time of it, but they persevered.

In thi
Jena Costin
Jun 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman is a story told from the perspective of a child with parents who come from two very different cultures. The book provides a healthy, positive coming together of these two very distinct cultures to create a loving family. The book narrates the meeting of a young Japanese woman and an American sailor, both too afraid to make the first move because of the manner in which they eat. While the story begins with the initial hesitance of both characters t ...more
Caelyn Pietila
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
The story How My Parents learned to Eat, written by I.r. Friedman is a story about a Chinese American little girl telling the story about how her parents met. Her Father is American, and her mother is from China. In the story, the parents are nervous to eat around each other because he does not know how to use chop sticks, and she does not know how to use a fork and knife. This book teaches children how two cultures can combine into one. This is a good thing to teach children at such a young age ...more
Ally Irwin
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Friedman, I., & Say, A. (1984). How my parents learned to eat. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

The main idea of the children’s book “How My Parents Learned to Eat” is a story about a family where they use both chopsticks to eat and also forks and knives. The mom was Asian and has never eaten with knives or forks and the dad was American and has never used chopsticks. He wanted to ask the mom out to dinner but needed help to learn how to use chopsticks. He got help and asked her out to dinner but th
Michelle Kelley
A bit of an oldie, but I enjoyed this sweet story. A child tells of his parents' courting days when her father was stationed in Japan. Her father is afraid to ask her mother to dinner for fear his inability to use chopsticks will embarrass him. Similarly, her mother fears her inability to use a fork and spoon. They both seek help from others in mastering the eating utensils of the other's culture. A sweet love story, there is also the opportunity to discuss issues around military service in Japa ...more
Nov 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was a little disappointed in the shallowness of this childrens book. Really, they were afraid to get married because they didn't know how to use chopsticks/forks. Um. Okay, I don't have kids, but I know lots of kids and having been one myself... I can honestly say I'd never want to read something so stupid to my kid. I really prefer children's books that are honest and don't dumb down or teach shallowness to kids. Good god.
Oct 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
A wonderfully cultural book about two cultures coming together to form a family through different eating styles. My 5 yr old loved it, especially after we learned all about chopsticks in his Asia history lesson. A fun story and a great educational tool as well.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is set during wartime, but it seems current today anyway. An American Sailor meets a Japanese schoolgirl and begins to court her, but neither eat together for weeks. Both are nervous about how to eat like the people in the other culture. Eventually, the American sailor learns that he will be shipped out, and he feels the need to make his relationship with the girl Aiko more serious. He learns to eat with chopsticks. In the meantime, Aiko, worried that she can't eat like an American, as ...more
Israel Waltz
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Genre- Historical Fiction
Grades-Early Primary
How My Parents Learned to Eat was a good book in many ways. One main idea is to show how even though cultures are different you can still get along. another would be that different cultures do some things differently than yours.(cultures in the book include Japanese, English and American cultures.) the illustrations were very well done and the message of the story was very clearly presented. however, the storyline itself to me was rather boring to me
Yasmeen Mills
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a realistic-fiction text. Children who come from more than one culture will be able to relate to this book. It captures the immigrant experience from a child who explains how his parents learned about each other's cultures using eating utensils. This story will encourage children to think about the differences between western and eastern culture. The illustrations coincide with this text. They are simple and natural. I enjoyed reading this story and it is definitely a book I would like t ...more
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I am a writer and storyteller, and I have appeared throughout the United States sharing stories from my books and receiving in return stories from my audiences. Gathering material for my books on the Holocaust and World War II (Young Adult) has taken me to five continents and enabled me to meet and interact with people of all ages and from many cultures whom I otherwise would not have met. I am ma ...more
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