Preschool Reads

Chinese Superhero Books for Kids

For many of us, Chinese is our kids’ minority language and often weaker and non-preferred. Hence it is important to find books that are highly captivating. All the books I buy are specific for my son’s age, level, interests and tastes. He loves superheroes and adventure and all that is 打打杀杀.

I follow this tip from Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability: increase the number of Chinese books and simultaneously decrease the number of English books. I’ve cut back on buying English books/materials and we don’t go to the library as often as we used to. This has worked extremely well and my son now often picks up Chinese books to read or thumb through.

Back to what this post is about… I think I have all the superhero books on the Simplified Chinese market. 😝

I listed the books below in order of language difficulty from easiest to hardest — the first four on the list are picture books and the last three are bridge books (difference explained here).

1. 超人兔 Super Bunny series

These stories are short and hilarious and perfect for beginners. My favorite part is the BIG FONT which makes it great for joint reading. I usually read most of the story and have my son read the big words, which are all easy characters. Be forewarned that it has inappropriate language like “臭㞎㞎” (stinky poop) which made my son laugh and laugh and laugh.

2. 青椒小超人 Green Pepper series

I love love love this Japanese-translated series. The illustrations are soooo cute and the stories are all healthy and teach nice morals like eat more vegetables to defeat germs, exercise every day, don’t trust strangers, etc. They are paperbacks but the quality is excellent.

3. 神奇侠 Magical Bandit series

This series is by the famous Japanese author 宫西达也 who has a very distinctive drawing style. These two are quick, easy, and funny reads and my son enjoys the humor. It’s about kids who complain about their boring toothpaste. The magical bandit invents magical toothpaste which turns them into giant food heads. The kids realize their regular toothpaste is pretty awesome and stop whining about brushing their teeth. Ha!

4. 正义联盟故事 DC Superheroes 5-Minute Stories

This book is just okay. The binding is poor and the pages are falling out even though we didn’t even read it that much. The best thing about this book is I learned a lot of my son’s favorite DC superhero names in Chinese and it has pinyin. Don’t buy this unless you have a huge DC fan.

4. 我们的校长是超人 Captain Underpants series

This is my son’s favorite series in English and we love it in Chinese too. The translation is very good and I often burst out laughing. 😆 The best thing about this series is the pages correspond exactly to the English version so it’s easy for him to understand since he’s read it in English a million times.

Although these are chapter books, I find them fairly easy to read (as an adult with okay Chinese skills), with only 5-10 characters per book that I don’t know. The chapters are short so it’s easy to read 3-5 chapters in one sitting. Highly recommend for Captain Underpants fans.

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5. 屁屁超人 Fart Boy series

I have three of these Fart Boy books as part of 阅读123, Set 1. Each book has three short stories. This series is from Taiwan and the language and storyline has a distinctive Asian flavor (e.g. the principal pulling the boy’s ear). It is harder for my son to understand but I do really like this exposure to Taiwan-Mandarin vocabulary and culture.

When we first read this two months ago, my son did not like it because he couldn’t comprehend it. We recently tried it again and he enjoyed it and requested it a few times. So even if your child rejects a book now, don’t give up! Give it a few months and try again.

6. 怪杰佐罗力 Zorori series

I’ve never heard of Zorori before but apparently it is crazy popular among elementary students in Japan (where it’s from) and Taiwan. I find it rather challenging to read because of the up-down print which I’m not used to. The book is also rather long — it is one whole long story without being divided into chapters. Right now this series is sitting on the shelf until we finish Fart Boy and Captain Underpants.

Where To Buy: All of the above books were purchased from Taobao which ships to many countries including the USA. If you copy and paste the titles into the TB search bar you should be able to find them. For details on how to order from TB, refer to my updated TB shopping guide here.

{If you know of other good superhero books, let me know! Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on my blog posts.}

Home Library, Preschool Reads

Chinese Home Library: 4 Different Types of Chinese Books

Did you know there are many different types of Chinese books? I sure didn’t! Ten months and thousands of dollars 🤑 later, I am now much savvier.

Here is a brief overview of the different types of books for preschool to early elementary. I am referring to Simplified Chinese books because that’s what I use. The following information may or may not apply to Traditional Chinese books, which differ in many ways.

1. Picture Books (绘本)

These books are designed for parents to read to their children (亲子阅读). Picture books are large and have colorful pictures on every page accompanied by a few lines of text. The print tend to be small and without pinyin because it’s assumed that it will be read by adults.

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{See my list of 10 Best Picture Books for Preschoolers}

Why you need these:

These books have rich storylines, beautiful illustrations, and are great for parent-child bonding when you read together and discuss the pictures. They expose your child to higher-level vocabulary, idioms and content.

2. Readers

These books are designed for children to read to themselves. The font is usually large and they use easy basic characters like the most common 500 characters. The stories tend to be simple and rather lame, because really, you can’t write much exciting stuff using only 500 characters.

You can tell a book is a reader if it includes flash cards or tells you it has X number of characters on the cover. They are also usually called 我会读,我会自己读, or something along those lines. Most readers tend to be small, thin paperbacks because they are for little hands to hold.

Why you need these:

These easy readers serve the primary purpose of helping children increase sight word recognition, and build confidence and fluency/speed. They teach a few new words per story with lots of repetition so kids remember the new words.

Don’t spend too much of your time reading these to your kids. Compare a sentence in a reader “乖乖兔也生气了” (Good Bunny is also angry) to a sentence from a picture book “找到球了,入室盗窃案好像也一起侦破了” (After we find the ball, the burglary case will likely be solved as well). Which one has advanced vocabulary and sentence structure that you want your kids to learn? The answer should be obvious.

3. Bridge Books (桥梁书)

I consider these simple chapter books because they are wordier with fewer pictures. These books are designed for children to read to themselves to practice reading so they can eventually read chapter books without any pictures. There are bridge books both with and without pinyin, and they vary in length and difficulty.

The size of these books tend to be around the size of novels:

Why you need these:

Although these are designed for children to read to themselves, I do read them to my son occasionally to train his comprehension to have less reliance on pictures. I also want to familiarize him with the story so it’ll be easier for him to read them in the future.

The guideline I follow (from the acclaimed The Read Aloud Handbook) is to read to your child at two years higher than his current level. Since my son’s Chinese level is at about 4 years old, I try to read aloud to him books suitable for 6 years old. In English, I read to him chapter books that are for 2nd-4th grade.

Eventually the goal is for him to be able to read these bridge books to himself.

4. Books with Pinyin

All books with pinyin are basically written for kids to independently read to themselves. The books from China do not come with pinyin after around 2nd grade.

Why you need this:

Books with pinyin are an important step to independent reading. Since most preschool-early elementary kids only know several hundred characters, a far cry from the 3000 characters you need to know to read fluently, they need pinyin to read more interesting and advanced books. Kids in China read books with pinyin until they know several thousand characters in 2nd grade, at which point they transition to reading books without pinyin.

In summary…

If you’re wondering which of the four types of Chinese books you need, the answer is YOU NEED THEM ALL. As stated above, they serve different but equally important functions. Make sure you have a good selection of all four types.

As a general rule of thumb, spend more of your time reading advanced stuff to your kid and let your kid read the easy readers/pinyin stuff to himself. This is true for any language.

The other thing to keep in mind is that each of these types of books range in difficulty. Picture books range from extremely easy to extremely hard. Same for bridge books and pinyin books.

Don’t be discouraged even if you have an older child who barely understands Chinese. Ten months ago, my son didn’t know a single word of Chinese and now he is able to understand some bridge books like 屁屁超人. The way to rapidly increase comprehension is start with really easy books like 鼠小弟 Little Mouse series and to keep reading slightly harder books every day. I also do repeated reading with him, e.g. the first time we read it I might translate portions into English. Then second and third time we read it, I translate less and less until he can completely understand Chinese.

My home library has changed A LOT since I started building it about eight months back. I’ve put away some books that are too hard, and ordered more easier pinyin books for my son to read to himself since he’s been wanting to do that lately. We have about 500 books in his bedroom of varying type, level, and topic.

Questions? Comments? You can message me on Facebook or Instagram.

Preschool Reads

Preschool Reads:《植物大战僵尸》Plants vs. Zombies Picture Books

He first played PvZ during our long flight ✈️ from USA-Singapore last August and he’s been completely hooked since.

In Singapore, we bought a few PvZ books from Popular Bookstore like these two comic books:

Little Man is very interested in these comics however they are not appropriate for preschoolers. The print is sooo tiny that even I have hard time reading it. In addition, even when I read them to him, he doesn’t understand the jokes because they are all “冷笑話” (Chinese word plays or puns) more suited for older children.

This series of picture books shown below is much better for beginners in terms of large and clear font and pinyin, full color pictures on every page, and content that is fairly easy to understand.

Each book contains 8 short stories of about five pages each. Sample story shown here:



Each story tells a simple moral, usually along the lines of don’t tease others, exercise every day, don’t yaya papaya 😉…

Little Man really really enjoys this series of books. He enjoys looking at the pictures and even brought them to the bathroom to read while on the potty! 🚽

He also likes to use tracing paper to trace the illustrations. As you can see, he even traced the words and pinyin:

Lately, he has even started reading the stories himself. I think the short length of the stories really helps. He gets discouraged reading the other pinyin books we have because they are too long and/or advanced.

I suggest reading to your child a few times to familiarize with the plant and zombie vocabulary. The vocabulary repeats itself quite frequently so after a while your child may feel confident to attempt reading to himself.

For some extra fun, you can get PvZ 3D puzzles and toy figurines for pretend play:

Where to Buy:

Picture Books:

From Popular Bookstore (Singapore/Malaysia) or Taobao link

3D Puzzles:

Taobao link

PvZ Toys:

I bought mine on Amazon because I needed them delivered in time for his birthday

I usually buy from Taobao myself since it saves a heck ton of $$ but if you don’t feel comfortable doing that there are many agents you can use such as Taobaoring, Bhiner, Yoybuy etc.

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Preschool Reads

10 Best Chinese Picture Books for Preschoolers

I realize that “best” is a subjective term but I’ve compiled a list of picture books that are classics and wildly popular with the preschool age group. You can’t really go wrong with these because basically all kids love them.

When I first started procuring Chinese books for my son I was at a total loss as to where to begin. The choices were overwhelming and I had a hard time figuring out the difficulty level and whether he could comprehend them. Thus I’ve arranged these books in order of language difficulty from easiest to hardest.

What I mean by “easy” is simple common characters and repetitive storyline. As it moves down the list, the plot and vocabulary get more complex and the length of the book gets longer. The hardest series listed《不一样的卡梅拉》is Little Man’s current favorite. It has 40+ pages and takes >20 minutes to read.

I hope you find this list a good starting point! Click on the links for detailed book reviews.

1.《可爱的鼠小弟》 Little Mouse series

2.《首先有一个苹果》First There Was an Apple

3.《我的神奇马桶》 My Magical Toilet

4.《幸福的小鸡》 Little Chicks series

5.100层的房子》100 Story House series

6.100层的巴士》 100 Story Bus

7.《生气王子》 The Angry Prince and other books by Lai Ma

8.《你看起来好像很好吃》 Tyrannosaurus Rex series

9.《屁屁侦探》 Butt Detective series

10.《不一样的卡梅拉》Camilla series

And here’s an extra one…

I highly recommend this 《过年啦!》Chinese New Year book which is easy to understand, very fun and hands on, and teaches a lot of customs and traditions. My son loved it so much he brought it for Show & Tell at his American preschool and everyone loved it as well. How’s that for some cultural exchange!

Writing this blog post makes me realize what a long way Little Man has come. I remember complaining to friends in Singapore last August (just 7 months ago) that he did not understand any Chinese books I read to him. Look at him now – comprehending 40-page stories! 🙂

For more #BookRecs, join the Motherly Notes Facebook group run by my friend Julie who has approximately 100,000 Chinese books.

Preschool Reads

Preschool Reads:《我的神奇马桶》My Magical Toilet

I just received this book two days ago and love it! The most recent addition to my collection of butt books… 🤣

This is a Japanese-translated book about a boy who got bored with his potty and imagines all kinds of different potties. 🚽 🚽 🚽 Look at all the creative possibilities!

My favorite things about this book:

  • Language is simple and easy to understand, and the book is short and not wordy. Perfect for beginners to Chinese.
  • Large font size and simple characters. Little Man should be able to read this by himself.
  • Engaging pictures and content, which open up room for lots of discussion e.g. Which potty do you like? Why? Can you think of other ideas?

Seriously love all the Japanese-translated books I’ve bought so far. They’ve been of consistent high quality as compared to European-language-translated books or native-mainland-Chinese books.

Buy from:

The hardcover is available for ~$3 on Taobao (Read: How to Buy Chinese Books from Taobao). My son enjoyed this Potty book so much he requested for the Bathtub one as well, so now we have both of them.

The traditional version is called 《我的百變馬桶》and can be purchased from Books.com.tw and maybe other places that I don’t know. 🤷‍♀️

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Preschool Reads

Preschool Reads:《屁屁侦探》Butt Detective series

Mystery is my #1 favorite genre. From Enid Blyton’s Five Find-Outers and Famous Five to Encyclopedia Brown and Agatha Christie… Even now as an adult I still love whodunnits!

I’d like to share my love for mysteries with my son but they are rare for this age group. He LOVED Nate the Great (in English) when he was 4.5:

So I bought him this lovely set of bilingual Nate the Great books:

Alas, these continue to be unread, untouched, and unloved to date. I learned the hard way that Little Man refuses anything in Chinese that he’s already read in English. 😕

The only other detective series I’ve found for preschoolers is… 屁屁侦探 (Butt Detective)! Thank you to the mom who recommended it to me as one of the books her 5 y.o. daughter loves. Little Man loves them too because who doesn’t love a butt-faced Detective??!

The Simplified Chinese version comes with four books (for some reason in Traditional Chinese there are FIVE books, there is a black one that is not available in Simplified. WHY?!). Each book has a kid-friendly mystery like missing ball, stolen treats, etc. and you help Butt Detective solve them by looking for clues.

Every page is fun and interactive as it has an “I Spy” or a maze. The illustrations are typical Japanese style – very cute!

Of course, the best part is when Butt Detective catches the bad guy, he makes a big stinky fart (噗 is pronounced pū. I learned this character from reading this book) and the bad guy faints from it.

I love this series because it introduced Little Man to a lot of detective vocabulary like 委托人 (client), 案件 (case), 可疑 (suspicious), 线索 (clues), 绑架 (kidnap) and many other words that he did not know before. These books look deceptively simple but actually have a lot of advanced vocabulary. Really good for building Chinese language skills. 🙂

This is Little Man’s favorite page… finding 10 butts in the picture. If you enlarge the picture, you’ll see that it says “把10个屁股的图案找出来吧!” 😂

I really want to find more mysteries appropriate for young children. Please share if you know any!

Buy from: Taobao (you know this is where I get everything) or Maha Yuyi in Singapore

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Chinese Immersion, Preschool Reads

Preschool Reads:《可爱的鼠小弟》Little Mouse Series

This Japanese-translated bestseller was recommended to me by a friend and I bought it not expecting much. I looked at a few sample pages online and it didn’t seem that special…

But, she was right and I was wrong. I LOVE THIS SERIES. ❤️❤️❤️

The first thing I should tell you is that you should buy the entire series (22 books). Or at least buy the first set of 12 books. Each book is a stand-alone story but there are many running gags:

E.g.

Book 1: 鼠小弟的小背心 Little Mouse’s Vest

Book 3: 鼠小弟的又一件小背心 Little Mouse’s Other Vest

Book 6: 又来了!鼠小弟的小背心 Little Mouse’s Vest Again!

The stories just keep getting funnier and funnier because you know the backstory of Little Mouse’s vest. It may not make as much sense if you don’t read the books in order.

The illustrations are soooooo cute and there’s a hilarious twist on the last page of each book. This series reminds me very much of Mo Willem’s Elephant & Piggie series in terms of style and content.

The other thing I really like about Little Mouse is the vocabulary/Chinese characters are easy and repetitive. Little Man knows about 400 Chinese characters and can read most of the sentences. I think that this will be a great set for him to practice reading to gain confidence and fluency.

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As you can see in the sample pages above, the lines are repetitive for most of the book “小背心真漂亮,让我穿穿好吗?” and “有点紧,不过挺好看的吧?”. This makes it really easy to understand and read, ideal for beginning Chinese learners and readers!

This series is very popular and you may be able to find it at a local Chinese library if you have one. I found eleven of them at my immersion school library:

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Buy from: I purchased set of 22 paperbacks from Taobao (China based) for $30. See How to Buy Books from Taobao

Also available on China Sprout (U.S. based).

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