Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The Art of Jimmy Liao

A couple of years ago, my children received a book in the mail from their grandmother, Sound of Colors by Jimmy Liao. I had never heard of the author but was intrigued as soon as I opened it. His illustrations are stunning, rich, and imaginative and my kids immediately wanted to read the book.
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Online Books for Young Readers

I recently discovered a fantastic site, Childroad, that presents online books in Chinese for young readers. Many of them are free, though you have more access and can download MP3 files if you become a member (I haven’t, so I don’t know exactly what the other benefits are). From my quick glance at it, it looks like a great resource.


Feeding the Minds of Little Readers

[This has been cross-posted from Bay Area Mama.]

Despite the popularity of Mandarin classes in schools around the country these days, finding engaging materials for kids who are learning Chinese can be a challenge anywhere, even here in the Bay Area. But recently a number of new, local resources have cropped up offering a much broader selection of Chinese books for my little ones. In particular, I was interested to see, on the Mandarin Immersion Parents Council website, that a Chinese bookstore (and a local one, no less) is going to offer a Chinese reading club similar to the Scholastic program that has been omnipresent in American schools since I was a kid. Learn more from this PDF.

For those in the East Bay, there will be another opportunity to browse and buy a wide variety of Chinese books, DVDs, games, and other educational materials at the Shu Ren International School Fall Festival and Book Fair on October 30. This is a great chance to stock up on materials for your little ones – and also have some fun while you are at it. There will be a magic show, classical Chinese dance performance, games, a bounce house, and food. The book fair will be co-sponsored with, another local company that offers a selection of Chinese books and other materials.

And on a recent visit to the bookstore in the Ranch 99 mall in Richmond, I noticed that they have increased their range and selection of children’s books, which is now a great resource as well.

Happy reading!


Discount on Chinese Books for Hao Mama Readers

As I’ve mentioned before, My Panda Paws offers a variety of books, DVDs and other products to help children learn Chinese. Just in time for back-to-school, they have generously offered a 15% discount for readers of Hao Mama through September 3. Just enter Haomama at checkout. Enjoy!


Why Do Children Like the Monkey King?

The Monkey King (Journey to the West) is one of the greatest and most engaging tales for young (and old) minds ever written. My son never tires of hearing and watching the stories and knows well the details of each character and their many adventures. Asia Society has posted a video of Professor Anthony C. Yu providing a somewhat academic look at why this story endures for children over so many generations.

Read more from Hao Mama about the Monkey King.


Creative Chinese Character Art

Just came across these beautiful images composed of Chinese characters. Can’t wait to show my Monkey King-obsessed son this one tomorrow:


Magic Tree House (神奇树屋)

L has begun to enjoy reading chapter books, and, along with Stuart Little and the Beverly Cleary classics, especially likes the popular Magic Tree House series, about a brother and sister in Pennsylvania who discover a tree house in the woods behind their house which transports them to any number of exotic or historical scenes, from the Age of the Dinosaurs to the ninjas of ancient Japan and even up to the moon. While searching for Christmas gift books for him, I was excited to find the whole series in English/Chinese bilingual editions at ChinaSprout. We were especially happy about this discovery because we’ve had a hard time finding quality books in Chinese for his age, available here, which are more sophisticated than the average picture book but engaging enough to keep his interest. His dad and I now take turns reading the same Magic Tree House (神奇树屋) book in English and Chinese, and he loves it. With over thirty books in the series, this should keep us busy for a while. The whole series in Chinese is available on Amazon as well.


Sun Jingxiu reads Monkey King

As I’ve mentioned before, the legend of the Monkey King is a favorite in our house. Before a recent long flight, I searched iTunes (which, if you search hard enough, has quite a bit of material in Chinese for kids) for something to keep L entertained, and found a recording of the complete Monkey King (Journey to the West or 西游记) by famed storyteller Sun Jingxiu (孙敬修). Generations of Chinese children have listened to “Grandpa Sun” tell the story of Sun Wukong in his heavy Beijing accent without any special effects, cutesy voices, or annoying music; his recording keeps my five-year-old enthralled for hours at a time and often makes him laugh out loud. Highly recommended for quiet rest times, long car trips, or rainy indoor days.

To find it, search the iTunes store for “Sun Jingxiu.” Currently they only have Volumes 1 & 3, but the whole set can also be purchased on Amazon. Segments of the story can also be heard for free via Chinese video-sharing site Tudou. The first section is here.


Christmas Shopping

Below are some suggestions of holiday gifts for the little linguists in your lives. I have mentioned most of these products elsewhere on this site but they are worth pointing out again because each of them has been well-used and loved by my own kids. Happy Shopping!

What young child doesn’t love playing with magnets on the fridge? Why not have them learn some Chinese while they are at it?

Kingka, a matching game that teaches young learners to recognize Chinese characters and learn the meaning. There are various ways to play it depending on the age and fluency of your children, and the sturdy character cards themselves are a great resource.

A beautiful book that creatively introduces a few characters through a fun story.

A gentle CD of songs and counting rhymes designed to teach the basic sounds of Chinese to very young children. One of my kids’ favorite CDs.

A beautiful soothing collection of lullabies that puts both my kids to sleep every night. My little one now sings “You You Zha” (the name of the first song) to signal she is ready for bed.

There is something about the drawings of Elmer that babies just love.


New resources

I’ve been negligent about updating this site and so have missed out on some cool new resources and websites that have popped up in recent weeks. I just by chance discovered this website, Panda Paws, that sells products for bilingual learning. It’s run by two Chinese-American moms who say they personally select everything they sell according to what their children like. They also write a blog.

Another new blog by a mom also covers topics related to raising bilingual Chinese-English kids in the U.S., apparently also here in the SF Bay Area. I look forward to reading more from her. And I’ll try to do a better job keeping up with all the great new resources out there.
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