10 Great Chinese Children’s Books for Kids Learning Chinese Culture
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When it comes to learning Chinese culture and language, I know I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the vastness of China’s language and history. Even as a Chinese-American myself, I often feel like my knowledge of the history, culture, and language of this civilization is just the tip of the iceberg. Where should I start? In the effort to educate children, what are some good Chinese children’s books to initiate them?
The good news is that there are more and more resources for those who want to learn more, give their children a bilingual education, and raise them to enjoy and achieve a level of cultural mastery.
I’ve listed ten great Chinese children’s books to read with young children to begin or expand that appreciation effortlessly. They range from simple look and find bilingual books to increase vocabulary to the heavier series of Chinese history comics. I’ve also included some great options to introduce children to fairy tales, holidays, and classic traditions of China.
Whether you’re looking for a way to share this culture with the kids or looking for more materials to stock your shelves with, check out these great Chinese books for kids. All promise to enrich children’s learning as they begin to learn about Chinese language, history, culture and traditions.
Chinese books for children
Chinese Folktales: The Dragon Slayer and Other Timeless Tales by Shiso S. Nunes and Lak-Shee Tay-Audouard
The 19 tales collected here have been told for thousands of years in China, delighting listeners with stories about the universal virtues of honesty, respect, courage and self-reliance. Told with wisdom, humor and affection, these folk tales offer insight into traditional Chinese culture and folk wisdom.
Chinese Myths and Legends: The Monkey King and Other Adventures by Shelley Fu and Patrick Yee
Included in this collection of seven tales are the Chinese myths of creation, mortality and love. A pronunciation guide and information for further reading help educators and parents read these classic Chinese stories to young listeners.
Yeh Shen: A Cinderella Story of China, by Ai-Ling Louie and Ed Young
If you’ve never read this Chinese Cinderella story before, you and your listeners are in for a treat. Enter the world of Yeh-Shen and discover how ancient and universal the story of Cinderella is.
Dim Sum for everyone! by Grace Lin
Learn about this cultural custom by visiting a bustling dim sum restaurant. In this picture book, the carts bring in delicious morsels of food – from pies to buns to dumplings – and everyone around the table shares the delicacies the family way.
Our Moon Festival: Celebrating the Moon Festival in Asian Communities by Yobe Qiu and Christina Nel Lopez
I love how this book sheds light on the traditional Chinese Moon Festival while explaining how the tradition is observed in neighboring Asian countries like Vietnam and Japan. Diversity also exists in Asia, and seeing how each family celebrates the holiday is very interesting.
I found it! A Bilingual Seek and Find Book by Katrina Liu
Here is an adorable book for learners of Mandarin! This bilingual book contains Simplified Chinese, Pinyin and English vocabulary words for identifying various objects in a fun to seek and find book. There is also a traditional Chinese version available for those who wish to learn it.
The Foundations of Chinese Civilization: From the Yellow Emperor to the Han Dynasty (Understanding China Through the Comic Book Series) by Jing Liu
For middle and senior graders, and even comic book-obsessed elementary school kids, this comic book series is great for understanding China’s vast history. There’s never been an easier, more entertaining way to learn about China’s history, from ancient to modern.
Little Pigs and Sweet Rice Cakes: A Story Told in English and Chinese (Chinese Zodiac Stories) by Jian Li
Author and illustrator Jian Li tells a series of stories based on the Chinese zodiac. This one is the Chinese version of the Three Little Pigs, a folk tale about three pigs who wish they could eat sweet rice cakes. Told in Chinese and English, the tale includes a recipe for making the delicious cakes.
Mooncakes by Loretta Seto and Renné Benoit
The stories of the Jade Rabbit and the magic tree that can never be cut are woven into the story of how a family celebrates the Chinese Moon Festival.
ABC for Chinese Americans by Cathy Lu
This primer will delight any ABC or American Born Chinese. Babies learn their ABCs with fruits, vegetables and other foods commonly eaten in Chinese homes.
For recommendations on Lunar New Year books to read with children, see 10 Chinese New Year Books.