Scholastic has made a tradition of releasing some of the best programming available to children throughout its history. It has proven that with releases teach reading skills through some of the most entertaining children’s stories written in modern history and by celebrating the ethnic diversity of the world. Just last month, it maintained that reputation with the release of its triple-disc set centered on the people and literature that have made African American culture as rich as it is. Scholastic has cemented its reputation even more with the release of a collection of stories celebrating Asian history and culture. The DVD in question is Stone Soup and Other Stories from the Asian Tradition.
Stone Soup and Other Stories continues Scholastic’s long held tradition of both entertaining young audiences and teaching valuable life lessons at the same time. This is exemplified by all four of the stories included in this set anchored by the title story. Stone Soup is taken from the story of the same name. It teaches the importance of community and generosity as a group of villagers come together to make soup when a trio of monks comes to a small village. The story is read by veteran actor B.D. Wong (Law & Order SVU). Parents will appreciate the lessons of community and generosity. Equally impressive in this short story is the artwork of the pictures that go along with the story. The artwork of the pictures is rough. It looks almost like watercolors or even chalk drawings. Despite that richness, the pictures are so rich and vibrant in their colors. As minor as this seems, it too plays a role in keeping young viewers engaged. Together with the story itself and its morals, the story’s pictures bring the story together as a whole, solid anchor to this set.
The lessons of community and generosity are sure to impress parents as they are very valuable lessons that both adults and children should remember. It’s just one of the many lessons taught through this collection of stories. Just as important as those lessons is the lesson of being appreciative of what one has and who one is. This lesson is taught in the collection’s final story, The Stonecutter. Audiences meet a man named Tasaku in this story. Tasaku is a lowly stonecutter who wishes for more. And he gets more. The problem is that in wishing he had more and was more than he was, he gets more than he bargained for. He learns this lesson in a very interesting fashion. That’s something which audiences will have to find out for themselves if they have never heard or read this story. It’s definitely a story that makes for a wonderful starting point for discussions both in the classroom and at home. American folk literature has its own take on the story. But in hearing the story from a different cultural standpoint makes the story that much more interesting. It’s interesting in that this is obviously a universal lesson. It isn’t necessarily a lesson that is relegated to one culture and people or another. It is that likeness of cultures that makes this set that much more enjoyable for audiences.
If the stories and lessons already noted aren’t enough, then how about the inclusions of an Asian take on the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood and a slightly supernatural tale with a moral? Those are here too, in Lon Po Po and The Five Chinese Brothers. Both stories add their own touch to this new set, which is available now on DVD. IT can be ordered online at http://www.newkideo.com/scholastic/stone-soup-and-other-stories-from-the-asian-tradition/. Regardless of whether one is studying Asian culture or simply wants to take in some enjoyable stories with equally important lessons, this is another wonderful set from Scholastic that is a good fit in the classroom or in a family’s living room.
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