Thursday, February 26, 2015

我好担心 (Wemberly Worried)

We checked out a great book from the library this week called  我好担心 (Wemberly Worried). I wish we had lots of Chinese books like this. I've seen my 4 year old looking at it all by himself several times, which tells me that it catches his interest.

It's a classic English book, and I'll refer you to to read the 5 star reviews.

It's about a mouse that worries a lot. She worries that snakes will come out of her radiator, that a tree will fall on her house, that things are going to come out of the cracks in the walls. Reading it with our kids it all seemed so relevant to them. They thought it was fun and silly but also novel and interesting. I pointed to a crack on our roof and I could tell the wheels in their heads were spinning.

Anyways, the book is a bit long, and I'd say you should plan on your kids being at least 4 years old to read it. I think it has a lot of re-read value and is one your kids will be interested in reading many times over and over again.

 我好担心 (Wemberly Worried)

I think it's well translated, and one thing I like about it is that there is no pin yin. I think it's good to have books with pin yin, but it's also nice to not have pin yin so your kids really focus on the characters. It's also a bit repetitive, which I think really helps with learning the characters. Worried in Chinese is  担心, and our son is getting really good at reading that word :-)

I did find a place on Amazon that carries this book!  :

我好担心 (Wemberly Worried)

It seems kinda sketchy... but Amazon always guarantees everything so I'm sure they would give you a refund if it didn't come or was messed up.

Or find it at a library near you:

Some other Chinese websites that have it:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

谁摘了我的花儿 (Who Picked my flower) -- a cute baby Chinese book

About a year ago, I found a really cute Chinese children's book in a local Chinese Book shop here in Houston. It was really cheap; I think I only paid about 2 dollars for it. We've read it at least 10 times, and now our youngest (under age 2) is old enough to really enjoy it.

It's called 谁摘了我的花儿 (Who Picked my flower)

As you can see from the screenshots, it's a very simple book where you look for the hidden object. Every page is a different type of sentence -- Who picked my flower, where's my button, etc.

谁摘了我的花儿 (Who Picked my flower) -- a cute baby Chinese book

毛毛虫藏在哪里? Where is the caterpillar hiding?

I found a place on Amazon that sells this book! $10  :

谁摘了我的花儿 (Who Picked my flower)

It seems kinda like a sketchy vendor and it ships from China, ... but Amazon always guarantees everything so I'm sure they would give you a refund if it didn't come or was messed up.

Right now, it looks like the only library it's available in is in Singapore:

Here are Chinese websites you can buy it from:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Introducing the Teach Kids Chinese Podcast! Episode 1 -- Chinese Nursery Rhymes no. 1

Some people do big things and start new projects during the western New Year on January 1st, but in Chinese fashion we're doing something big on Chinese New Year. We started the Teach Kids Chinese Podcast!

Ever since we upgraded our stereo system in our car and we can now play things off our phone, we've been looking for more Chinese things to let our kids listen to in the car. We haven't found very much. There is one Kids Chinese Podcast out there, but it's geared more for an absolute beginner or even teenagers / adults. Plus you have to pay money to see transcripts. We didn't really see anything for parents teaching their kids. We decided to take things into our own hands and make a podcast ourselves!

Our first project will be to go through Chinese nursery rhymes. We will probably cover about 10-12 in all, and we did the first three today. As we go through each one for the first time, we will go slowly and explain what all the words mean in English as well. When we finish them all, we'll release a podcast that has all the rhymes in one podcast, all in Chinese, without English explanations, at a faster / more fun pace.

We cover the following Chinese nursery rhymes today:

  • Little Dew Drop (小露珠)
  • Little Star (小星星)
  • Little White Bunny (小白兔)
Subscribe to us on iTunes here!

(We are new to this whole thing... if the link is broken or something isn't working then PLEASE let us know! Also, the podcast was just approved today, it won't be available to find by search in the itunes store for a few days)

You can listen directly here:

And you can download the mp3 directly here!

Here is the transcript of the podcast:

Hi, this is miaomiao from Welcome to our first ever Teach Kids Chinese Podcast!


Today we’re going to learn 3 different Chinese nursery rhymes.


Let’s go ahead and get started!


This first one is called Little Dew Drop


I'm going to read it first in Chinese


Thursday, February 19, 2015

The 2015 Chinese New Year Gala (中央电视台春节联欢晚会)

The Chinese New Year Gala (中央电视台春节联欢晚会) is a Chinese TV event that has become a national staple of Chinese culture. It's full of dances, singing performances, skits, and Chinese culture. It's about 4 hours long. This year, it's on youtube. The first 2 hours are mostly just pre-performance stuff, so if you want to watch then you might want to skip to the 2 hour mark. If you're watching with young kids I would also recommend skipping over a lot of the skits. There are some amazing dances and performances and good songs, though.

It's worth a watch.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Little Mandarin -- Chinese Children's Classics

We just discovered A Little Mandarin -- Chinese Children's Classics last week. It's now our favorite source for Chinese children's songs. We previously reviewed another CD called Little Dragon Tales, which we also highly recommend, but this album has some differences that probably make it an even better choice for your little children.

Both CD's cover classics like "Two Tigers - Liang Zhi Lao Hu". Both are produced well and have high quality music. As an adult, I prefer to listen to Little Dragon Tales. The music is more interesting, with richer layers and more complexity and originality. However, kids don't always want originality, they often want what's simple.

I'm not saying that A Little Mandarin -- Chinese Children's Classics is simple, because there are lots of different instrumentation on each song. However, the vocals are always crisp and clear, and she really has a nice voice. It makes for great sing-a-long music, but it's not too nursey-like that it will drive an adult crazy.

The first time we put this on, our 3 year old instantly started singing along to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Happy Birthday (granted, he already knew those song in Chinese, but the point is that he really, really liked listening and singing along). After listening to the album a few more times, he was even singing along to songs that he previously didn't know that well.

We think you can't go wrong with this CD and highly recommend it.

Buy the digital mp3 album here:

Or the CD here:

Monday, February 16, 2015

Watch our 4 year old read Chinese

We've been doing a lot of talking on this blog of ours... but how do you know we know what we're talking about? Does our strategy really help kids learn Chinese? It sure helps our kids learn Chinese. The proof is in the pudding, so here's a video of our son reading a paragraph out of the 2kids Chinese app:

Just to be clear, he is almost 5 years old, and he is very precocious. We are giving him a lot of the credit for being a very smart boy (he reads English words amazingly well), but we'd like to think that we are helping him succeed. He knows quite a bit of characters and reads pin yin as well. Hopefully the info on this site helps our other boys and your kids do well, too!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

特别的日子:学会热爱生活 Special day: learn to love life

Special day: learn to love life is a picture book by Max Velthuijis. Max is from the Netherlands and has written lots of famous children's books. One of them is the Frog series, a series of books about a frog. I was amazed to see that Amazon had some of the Chinese versions for sale for very cheap!

This one only costs $2.99 and has prime shipping. It was temporalily out of stock when we ordered it, and it took around a month to get here, but it came! It's a soft cover book, about 20 pages. There is pin yin under all the characters, and it's a nice story about a frog whose friends tell him it's a special day, but he can't figure out why it's a special day. In the end his friends throw him a surprise party.

特别的日子:学会热爱生活 Special day: learn to love life

Anyways, the amazing convenience of Amazon together with a cheap price made this a no brainer for us to buy. Now that our 4 year old is getting better with characters and pin yin, he's starting to be able to read this book by himself. Its very satisfying for him and us.

Monday, February 9, 2015

兔子和乌龟 (tortoise and the hare) Chinese Children's book

This book is the Chinese rendition of the classic story about the tortoise and the hare. It is similar to 小猴子, 追呀追, which we previously reviewed. It's from the same publisher, and they are both great books. The other story is more original, which we like, but it's also fun to have the classic stories like this one in Chinese. They are both great books that parents and kids will love reading.

Looking online, it's a shame this book is not easier to find. I'm not sure where in China my wife bought it. Here it is on

If anyone can find it in other places, please let me know! And a few screenshots.

兔子和乌龟 (tortoise and the hare) 

Find it at a library near you (so far only in singapore or Australia)

Actually... I did find it on Amazon for an exorbetan price...

兔子和乌龟 (tortoise and the hare)

Anyways, if you can find it, it's a good book.

Our Grade = A

Chinese 101 in cartoons (for shopping) -- 漫画汉语101句 (购物篇)

This is a really weird book. I honestly don't get what the cartoons are for. Cartoons make stuff fun for little kids, but the content here is stuff that grown ups would use. I got this book because I thought my kids who are learning Chinese would have fun reading the cartoons, but sadly it turns out the cartoons are only in pin yin. I don't see the utility in having my kids read pin yin without and Chinese characters, and I don't think they would even like that. They like to see the characters. Since they can't do that with the cartoons, the cartoons become useless.

There are Chinese characters of the conversation above the cartoons in text format, but that's not fun to read. It would be helpful for adults, but the cartoons make it so cumbersome that it doesn't seem like a good reference for an adult actually trying to study Chinese in preparation for a trip to China.

Thus, this book seems to miss the mark for both kids and adults. Nevertheless, it would not be a totally useless tool for adults to use to study Chinese. The cartoons might add some variety and entertainment to studying, even if they are unnecessary and distracting.

Chinese 101 in cartoons

Even though I didn't give this book the best review, you might think it's worth trying out. If so, purchase it at Amazon with the following link:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Monkey King: Havoc in Heaven

This is a cartoon movie that my wife used to watch when she was a little girl. It's a fun story about the Monkey King wreaking havoc with the heavens as all the Chinese Gods get jealous of his powers. They try and tame the monkey king only to have everything they do backfire. It's a fun film that is full of Chinese culture. The Chinese is pretty advanced, but I think people of all ages will like it. The animation is also top notch and there's good music.

Watch it at Amazon (click below). Free for prime members, otherwise rent or buy it.

New Chinese For Children 新儿童汉语

This is another book that a publisher sent me in promise of a review. I was really excited for this book, but ultimately ended up being very disappointed because it wasn't what I expected. HOWEVER, I must preface that this book might be a great option if your kids don't speak any Chinese at all and are a bit older (probably at least 6).

The book doesn't assume any knowledge of Chinese, and just jumps in with very basic words. There is no pronunciation guide, but there is a CD of MP3 files that walks you through the book. I'm not sure how effective that would really be, I guess a parent would have to walk the kid through it, and the kid would probably have to be pretty confident reading English. The pictures are fun, and there's some activities in the book to keep kids occupied, like filling in the blank, songs, and other questions.

However, my biggest complaint and the reason why I'm not sure this book is worth it is that the book is almost entirely pin yin. It hardly emphasizes characters at all. On one hand, I can appreciate that, and I understand that it's much easier to learn how to speak with pin yin and not with characters. That's how I learned to speak (this is the husband writing this). On the other hand, this book is way too extreme in hardly including any Chinese characters. In the very least, I think they should be placed there anyway, even if the pin yin is emphasized. Kids need to see the characters and start to get familiar with them, and this book doesn't do that at all. Kids also need to start writing a little bit, and kids think writing characters is fun.

I'm not sure how fair my evaluation is, since I'm not the target audience (my kids already speak Chinese), but I don't think this is the book I would seek out if my kids didn't speak Chinese and I wanted them to learn.

Our rating = C

New Chinese For Children

On the other hand, this book is available from Amazon with prime shipping... which makes it very convenient to buy and check it out. Buy it here:

The Big Spider 大蜘蛛 (My First Chinese Storybooks Series)

We've had this book for about six months now, and I've been meaning to get a review up here sooner. I promised the publisher I would write one, and we got extremely busy and haven't gotten around to it.

It's a fun book, and I would give it a great rating, but the story is a bit weird. It's about a boy who wants to play in his sister's room and play with her stuff, and the sister keeps lying to him about there being a spider in her room and in her stuff. This lie scares him away and he doesn't mess with her stuff. One day, there really is a spider, and the sister gets scared. She calls for her little brother and he comes in and saves the day, taking the spider outside. Then, brother and sister get along happily ever after.

The story never really resolves that it was wrong to lie, and because of this it's a book that I really don't like to read with my kids. It's not terrible, and if you read between the lines you sort of understand that the sister shouldn't have lied, but it's not clear, and that really annoys me. On the other hand, the pictures are fun, and the English and Chinese are both easy to read. I like that my son can read most of the Chinese by himself. I like that it's a real story and not just silly Chinese history or poems. I wish there were more Chinese books like this, but I wish the morals were better in this book as well.

Our rating is thus a C+

The Big Spider 大蜘蛛 (My First Chinese Storybooks Series)

Buy it on Amazon here: