Preschool Reads

Preschool Reads:《首先有一个苹果》First There was an Apple

This is the first Chinese book Little Man accepted after rejecting many many of them. He is sooooooo picky. 🙄 For a long time this was the only book he would read.

The beauty of this book is the cute and humorous illustrations, and it’s very easy to understand even for the child who doesn’t know much Chinese. The meaning of each sentence is evident in the picture.

Aside from counting 1-10, it has a funny twist: 数不清 (uncountable) bees!


We’ve read this so many times that Little Man can recite entire sentences from this book. He normally speaks in 1-2 words in Chinese so it is amazing to hear full sentences coming out from his mouth!


After reading this book a hundred times, I got a little bored so I replaced them with my own words, e.g. “首先有一个… 草莓” (“First there was a… strawberry”). This makes Little Man giggle to no end and he loves making up his own silly sentences too.

This book is by a Japanese author/illustrator Hiroshi Ito who has written several other acclaimed children’s books shown below. I’m looking into buying some more. 🙂


Buy from: World Taobao (China), EZBuy (Singapore) or China Sprout (USA)

Publisher: 二十一世纪出版社 21st Century Publishing House

ISBN: 7539130474


Home Library, Preschool Reads

Chinese Home Library Part I: What Not To Do 

Earlier this year I read an excellent book on bilingual language acquisition. The author stressed how important it is to build a home library with 500 books.


At that point, our home consisted of maybe 3 Chinese books. Hence began a frenzy of Chinese book acquisition of 100+ books, most of which I regret buying.

In this post I will share what I’ve learned about buying books for my angmohkia (AKA. westernized child who is dominant in and prefers English). Save yourself hundreds of dollars 💵 from NOT buying these books. You’re welcome.

Mistake #1: “Good character” books

A large percentage of Chinese books are about how to be a good kid and have good manners. If your child is used to English books with funny and exciting adventures he will not like these. Because BORING.

Seriously why are there so many of these… 🙄

Mistake #2: Books that are written for children in China 🇨🇳 

Can you say culture shock? My boy was horrified that animals and people get beaten and DIE in these books. Up until then I did not realize that all English books have happy endings and nobody ever dies. 😬

Seriously though, culture in China and USA are polar opposites. My son does not relate to Chinese books that are too… Chinese.

Mistake #3: Books that are too childish

My son is currently 5 years old with the Chinese comprehension of a 3 year old. I cleverly (or so I thought) sourced out books like Dr. Seuss and Elmer Elephant that are at his level of comprehension so he can understand them.

BIG MISTAKE. My son outgrew these toddler books years ago has zero interest in reading them.

Note: The books shown below are actually pretty good. They are just not developmentally appropriate or interesting to a 5 y.o.

Mistake #4: Books by non-professional authors 

Most English books are by renowned authors and illustrators, and you can be assured that they are of a certain caliber otherwise they wouldn’t be published. Not so for Chinese. There are many Chinese publishers that will publish works by any random person. I don’t think you can even call them authors.

Quality control??

Mistake #5: Novelty books 

Books these days come with a lot of bells and whistles. Toys, push buttons, projector, magic pen… you name it. While they do capture the child’s interest at the start, the novelty wears off really quick!

For the $20 I spent on this fancy schmancy book, I could’ve bought four quality hardcover picture books. Not worth it IMO. 😣

So there you have it. This is part I of a series of posts I will share about building our library at home. 敬请期待! To be continued…

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Audiobooks, Preschool Music, Preschool Reads

Preschool Reads:《睡前5分钟童话》5 Minute Bedtime Fairy Tales Book/CD

I ❤️️ book and CD sets. This book and 《两只老虎》 are my best purchases from Popular bookstore from our last trip back to Singapore.

The book is nothing special but it’s really easy to understand, with only one sentence per page. Really good for younger kids (2+) and beginning Chinese learners.

The book contains four short stories. The 5 minute length of each story is just right for my active-boy-with-short-attention-span.

I was expecting the audiobook to be of poor quality, but much to my pleasant surprise, it is really good!! I enjoy listening to it as it helps me with 朗读 (reading aloud), which is really not one of my talents. Listening to the narrator makes me realize that I read much too fast and lack in expression and intonation. 

We listen in the car, which is when Little Man has the best attention because he is nothing else to do. He loves to read along with the audiobook. This of course is the best part. Improving listening and reading at the same time!

Are you wondering what the audiobook sounds like? That’s always my question when I buy CDs and not knowing if it’s a dud or a win. Click here to listen a little sample!

What I don’t like about it is… it’s soooo naggy! Never thought that I would be nagged to death by an audiobook?!! At the end of each story, the narrator goes on and on about how to be careful, don’t take stuff from strangers, don’t stray away from your mom and dad.. blahblahblah. Tempted to skip those tracks but Little Man didn’t complain so we just listened to it.

We have 2 out of 4 books in the series. I’d like to find other book/CD sets of similar lower listening levels, but not much luck so far. Little Man is not ready to listen to audiobooks without any pictures. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Where to buy: Popular bookstore in Singapore or Malaysia. Popular Online, only ships within Malaysia.

Cost: $8.90 SGD

Publisher: Popular Book Corporation

ISBN: 978-986-301-332-7

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Preschool Reads

Preschool Reads:《100层的巴士》The Hundred Decker Bus

I bought this book because it was featured on a few blogs. It really is that good!

This is a translated book by English author Mike Smith about a bus driver who got bored with his normal route and decided to go off the beaten path. He picks up more and more passengers and they keep building more levels until… yup, they reach 100!

The illustrations are soooo cute and detailed. We’ve read this book at least 10 times and we’re still discovering new things.

The bus has really interesting things on it like a swimming pool, hotel, ice cream shop, apple orchard, petting zoo, bouncy castle.. basically all the things preschoolers love! I enjoy discussing the pictures with Little Man, and of course learning these vocabulary in Chinese.

The funnest (my made up word) thing is the fold up page of the 100 decker bus! As tall as my 5 y.o. 😉

He counted them and there really are 100 levels. 😂

The only bad thing is… this author has written just this one book?! What??? He is such a talented author/illustrator he really needs to write more. Ok maybe I will look up his email and tell him that.

Buy from: World Taobao (China based) or Flip For Joy (Singapore based) or China Sprout (USA based). All of these e-stores ship internationally.

Publisher: 二十一世纪出版社

ISBN: 9787539192673

Do you have any Chinese book recommendations? I’d really appreciate it if you can comment or FB message me to let me know! 

Preschool Reads

Preschool Reads: 《生气王子》The Angry Prince

When I first started buying Chinese books, I did not make very wise choices. As such I have 30-ish books that are rejected by my son and remain unread and untouched. 😣

I’ve learned from my mistakes and now devote a lot of time researching and finding Chinese literature that appeal to ang moh kia, i.e. westernized children whose preferred language is English.

I’ll share my son’s favorite reads on this blog so you don’t do the same thing I did – throw money 💵 down the drain!

《生气王子》is a really cute and funny book about a prince and king who have explosive tempers. By the end of the book they learn to control themselves by singing a “don’t get angry” song. 😆

Little Man adores the illustrations, especially the amusement park and superhero outfits (see pics). These things are very relatable to his life which I think is why he likes this book so much.

This is actually a pretty long book, probably the longest we’ve read to date. But it captures Little Man’s interest (despite his limited Chinese ability) and he requests this book frequently.

We have two other books by the same author: 

Little Man likes these two only ok.

What I like best is they are written by a Chinese (Taiwanese) author 赖马 so it’s in its original language and not a translated book. I hope to find more Chinese authors with similar style. If you know of any please comment and let me know!

April 2018 Update:

I would also recommend 《十二生肖的故事》and《爱哭公主》 by the same author. My son loves both of these as well.

Price: ~$3-4 USD (not incl. shipping)

Buy from: Multiple sellers on Taobao

Publisher: 河北出版传媒集团

ISBN: 978-7-5545-2983-6

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Fall activities, Mid-Autumn Festival, Preschool Reads, Reviews

Preschool Reads: 《中秋节》Mid-Autumn Festival

中秋节 is coming up on October 4 this year! I wanted to get a book so that we can learn about it together, because… erm… I actually know nothing about it. 😝

I like to get 全套 (whole set) of books because it saves so much time, hassle, and $$ compared to buying each book individually:

And now I have books for all the Chinese holidays for the whole year. Sweet. 

I was worried Little Man wouldn’t like these traditional Chinese stories but surprisingly enough he does! He has asked to read《中秋节》every day for over a week now.

He’s quite fascinated by the shooting suns with bows and arrows, thievery, sword brandishing… BOYS. 🙄

His Chinese is not strong so I had to translate almost everything at first. With each reading though, he understands more and more, and now I can read the whole book to him without translating.

The illustrations are so cute! This is Little Man’s first exposure to 古装 (ancient Chinese outfits) and he finds their hair and outfits very interesting indeed.

Overall, I’m very pleased with this《中秋节》book and think this set is super value-for-money. I can see us using it for several years to come.

Warning: ⚠️ I never realized that Chinese legends are so violent?! There is a fair bit of mature content like scary monsters, death, committing suicide (端午节 and 元宵节), and stealing women’s clothes while they are bathing in the lake (七夕). 😱😱😱 Definitely pre-read to see if your child is ready to handle these topics!!!

Price: $3.80 USD for set of 10 books

Shipping weight: 0.9kg (~$15 shipping to USA)

Buy from: World Taobao

Publisher: 海豚出版社 Dolphin Books

ISBN: 978-7-5110-3689-6

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Preschool Music, Preschool Reads, Reviews

Preschool Music: 《两只老虎》Two Tigers (Book/CD)

This book came highly recommended by several members of a bilingual parenting group, so I was determined to track it down when I was in Singapore last month.

Well, they were right. This book/CD is all kinds of awesomeness. Probably the best purchase of the 70+ books I brought back to the USA with me.

Little Man (age 4.5 almost 5) LOVES, LOVES, LOVES this book/CD set. Ever since we came back from Singapore over a month ago, he has listened to only this CD in the car, on repeat, non stop. He has stopped listening to all of his previous favorite English CDs and only listens to this. Which is pretty crazy considering he used to flat out refuse Chinese music.

This book/CD set is quite ingenious really. There’s a picture that goes with every song, which really helps my boy understand what it’s about. I’ve noticed that his Chinese vocabulary improving steadily each time we listen to it.

It has many classic children’s songs like 生日快乐 (Happy Birthday) and 当我们同在一起 (The More We Get Together), and many Chinese classics.

And the lyrics and pinyin!! Super love! ❤️ Little Man loves to read/sing along and often excitedly tells me from the backseat that he sees some characters he knows. This book has a lot of the common characters that he is learning in《四五快读》. He is even self learning more characters. One time he said “there is a word that looks like an arrow pointing up”. I said “Is it ‘个’?” and he said yes. And just like that he learned a new word!

I also have these two other books that are from the same collection but I can’t tell you how they are. Like I said, Little Man does not listen to anything except《两只老虎》. I do not know why he won’t touch these two even though they’re the same style. In the meantime, I’m very happy about his repeated reading/listening because it’s really good for language development!

Jan 2018 Update: Little Man still loves this and listens to it all the time after five whole months, which is pretty amazing because he’s the kid who always wants new things. We have a lot of other Book/CD sets but this is the definite favorite. He enjoys reading and singing along and has learned a lot of Chinese characters and pinyin this way.

Amazingly he has also “forgotten” that he used to listen to English CDs in the car. We now listen to 100% Chinese in the car. WIN. 🙂

FYI, for the other two book/CD sets pictured above, the 拔萝卜one is okay and I don’t recommend the 说学逗唱 one, the songs are weiiird.

CD: 40 tracks, 72 minute

Buy from: Popular Bookstore in Singapore/Malaysia. Not sold online.

Publisher: Popular Book Corporation Ltd

ISBN: 978-986-301-337-2

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