Garden みんなのガーデン



When you read this story, please think about the things you like and do not like about school. How could your educational experience be improved? What could you do to improve your educational experience? Beyond that, please think about what aspects of education are important to you.


Text and Illustrations by: Sarah Ducharme (セラ・デゥシャーム)

Sarah Ducharme is a sophomore at Smith College (2021). She studies Government and East Asian Studies, and loves learning the Japanese language. Outside of class, she enjoys cooking and baking, and sharing her recipes with friends and family.


This book was written for Japanese III and published in May 2019.

Tadoku Level: 0

Plot Summary:

Hannah is a third grader who loves school… but she does not enjoy school lunches. Her parents work hard at their jobs and don’t have the time to make her a lunch to take to school, so she eats the cafeteria lunch every day. One day, Hannah’s teacher notices that she looks sad during lunchtime, and asks her why. Hannah explains that she misses her mom’s cooking, and afterwards her teacher builds a garden at the school for the students to grow their own food and cook their own lunches at school. Through gardening and cooking lunches for her classmates, Hannah learns to appreciate school lunches, and shares her class recipes with her family.

Which SDGs this book can be referred to?

This tadoku book is intended for young Japanese language learners to improve their reading ability. This book also explores the following SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals):

  • Goal #3 – Good Health and Well-Being
  • Goal #4 – Quality Education
  • Goal #10 – Reduced Inequalities
  • Goal #11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Goal #17 – Partnership


The following is a Q+A about the process of creating this Tadoku book.

  1. Why did you create the story?

    In creating this tadoku book, I needed an engaging way to display my knowledge of Japanese while also improving my narrative skills in the language. My college-aged peers studying Japanese need stories that will help them improve their reading ability, as well as a simple and fun way to improve their ability to think about the complex subjects of SDG’s. The students of PS 147 need a way to improve their Japanese reading comprehension in a way that is fun, relatable, and not too challenging (but just challenging enough that they will be able to learn more vocabulary and grammar points and deepen their understanding of the Japanese language).

  2. How does the story address SDG #4 (Quality of Education)?

    Through gardening and cooking a school lunch, Hannah realizes that her education is not just going to school and learning. Everything she does with her classmates is part of her education. Garden and cooking teaches the students of Hannah’s class the importance of cooperation and sharing with others, and learns two skills that allow her to connect with more people.

  3. How did interviewing possible readers influence the design process?

    Interviewing the students of PS 147 helped me to see what they, as readers of my story, might be interested in, particularly in regards to education. While I originally planned to write a story about schools around the world, our discussion of school lunches prompted me to change the topic of my story to something that would be more interesting to my audience.

  4. How did receiving written feedback from possible readers influence the design process?

    Receiving written feedback from the students of PS 147 helped me revise the language (grammar, vocabulary, etc) of my story so that it could be more easily understood by young Japanese learners.

  5. What challenges did you encounter when adapting your story?

    When writing this story for young Japanese learners, I struggled most with simplifying the language. Otherwise, I encountered some technical difficulties when formatting my book.

  6. What was most frustrating about the process?  Most rewarding?

    The most frustrating aspect about creating this book was formatting two separate versions. My book has lots of images, and my documents would frequently crash while I was working on them. The process of adding furigana to kanji in the story was also very time consuming, and would often not format correctly.

  7. What did you find helpful to get you through it?  What were your solutions to the challenges you identify #6 and why?

    Thankfully, although my documents would crash, I never lost any of my changes. But as the images were vital to my story, I simply had to work through it. When adding furigana, I would have to type them myself to make sure the readings were correct. Unfortunately, these technical difficulties added a lot of time to the process.

  8. Where did you apply the most creativity in your book?

    I definitely applied the most creativity with the illustrations for my story. I really enjoyed drawing these illustrations, and making my story come to life!

  9. What advice do you have for students who are interested in creating Tadoku books for young learners?

    If you are creating a tadoku book, consider what your target audience would enjoy, and try to craft a story for them based on your own experience to really connect with them! For this story, I took inspiration from my own third grade class, where we tried to make a community garden for our school. While we never actually built this garden, I decided to explore what we might have done had we grown our own food at school. This made the experience of creating a tadoku book more personal and enjoyable for me, so I would recommend drawing from your own experience when writing a tadoku book.

  10. How was your overall experience?

    My overall experience creating this tadoku book, despite the technical difficulties, was great! I especially enjoyed creating the illustrations and corresponding with the students of PS 147 throughout the process.

  11. What makes your book unique from a book written by native Japanese speakers and why?

    Unlike a tadoku book written by a native Japanese speaker, this book is written by a non-native Japanese speaker intended for other non-native speakers. Because of this, my book understands the experience of its readers as Japanese language learners, while a book written by a native Japanese speaker does not have this understanding.

Full Version

The following is a version of the same story intended for Japanese language learners at the college level (tadoku level 3-4):