Bringing happiness and hope through reading illustrator books

Ms. Miho Nakane reading illustrator books

It sounds really simple and it is, but just reading a picture book with a child who’s disabled or whose family is affected by illness or an accident, can make a big difference. “It has been a while since I’ve seen such a happy face from this child!” said a childcare worker in the nursery located in the Japanese Red Cross Medical Center.

Yukari Ando and Miho Nakane are volunteers who read picture books to the children at the Japanese Red Cross Medical Center, which is a major Tokyo hospital, with a nursery on site.

Many of the children, aged up to four years, are living with disabilities and some of show little reaction or expression on their faces most of the time. Yet others have parents who are unable to take care of them because of sickness or accidents.

Far Left:Ms.Yukari Ando teaching others how to hold the illustrator books while reading to children

Far Left:Ms.Yukari Ando teaching others how to hold the illustrator books while reading to children

The two JRCS careers have been volunteering with these kids for over 10 years and on two Wednesdays a month, they visit the Centre, located in the capital’s Shibuya district. When they first started the volunteer work, they were worried about whether the children were enjoying it and whether their activity was worthwhile. “The hospital and nursery are very special environments. So at times, there are children who don’t show any reaction and even now, I am always thinking about ways to approach them and ways to reach out to them,” said Ms. Ando. But she says,“ when I see the friendly faces of the child’s family members and they tell me that even though he or she doesn’t show it on the surface, they are changing, I always end up thinking let’s come again and continue this activity.”

“Psychologically, we believe it is important for us to hold thoughts and thank children for listening” said Ms.Nakane and added, “it is wonderful and I’m grateful being able to share time with children by reading them illustrated books.” These activities spread smiles among children and give happiness and hopes among others. At all the Red Cross Hospitals, we always welcome volunteers.