Updated On: April 21, 2020

My Neighbor Totoro

Art & Design

Illustration

Children and Teenagers
Follow Instructions: Go through tutorials on how to draw Totoro, Satsuki, Tatsuo, Mei, or Kanta.

Language & Thinking

Reading Literature

Children
Read: Read the (highly-rated) book. Synopsis: “The beloved animation classic by legendary Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki, My Neighbor Totoro is now retold in novel form. This prestige, hardcover edition features original illustrations by Miyazaki himself, accompanying a story written by veteran children’s book author Tsugiko Kubo. Sure to delight both existing fans and new readers! Eleven-year-old Satsuki and her sassy little sister Mei have moved to the country to be closer to their ailing mother. While their father is working, the girls explore their sprawling old house and the forest and fields that surround it. Soon, Satsuki and Mei discover Totoro, a magical forest spirit who takes them on fantastic adventures through the trees and the clouds–and teaches them a lesson about trusting one another.”

Toddlers and Children
Read: For beginning readers, read My Neighbor Totoro Picture Book. Synopsis: “The companion book to the beloved animation classic My Neighbor Totoro, by legendary Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki. Featuring artwork taken directly from the movie, this updated edition will allow parents and children to relive Totoro’s magical adventures with scene-by-scene illustrations and character dialogue…”

Social Sciences

Geography

Children and Teenagers
Watch: this movie comes from Japan. With such a distinct culture that produces art so categorically theirs, it helps to understand surrounding elements of its origin to mentally absorb it all. Here is a 16-minute Geography Now video of Japan.

Values

Life Lessons

Toddlers and Children
Create a Teachable Moment: One thing we must learn in life is to accept change, because many things are outside of our control and when things change, opportunities present themselves. When Mei and Satsuki move to a new home in the country, they are giddy to explore. New places with new people can make one anxious, but these girls fully embrace it. With a curious and adventurous spirit, they are capable of loving their new home and make the most of a sad time when their mom is in the hospital.

Toddlers and Children
Create a Teachable Moment: When a new environment presents itself, you can allow it to expand your world view by being curious about it and having respect for it. Mei’s exemplifies this in her attitude toward nature. Totoro decided to revel its secret entrance to her, in part, because of this.

Toddlers and Children
Create a Teachable Moment: Family relationships are worth your attention and effort. While they have their minor differences at times, Mei and Satsuki are always looking out for each other. This attitude they have toward each other helped Totoro feel comfortable sharing adventures with them. Tatsuo, you can see, is doing everything he knows how to help his daughters get through the family challenge of their mom in the hospital. While Granny is their neighbor’s grandma, she assumes the role for the girls and takes them in as her own. Everyone finds more meaning and joy in their lives by loving each other.

Toddlers and Children
Create a Teachable Moment: A major theme of the film is sadness and grief. Viewers of the movie develop an emotional connection with the characters and can’t help but feel their pain. Finding out about her mom in the hospital, Mei is so sad runs through the streets to bring her an ear of corn. This is the natural way of processing emotions – and it’s ok.

How else might important subject matter be learned from this interest topic? Comment below! Half-baked ideas are more than welcome, too.