Picture Books About China and the Chinese Language (Mandarin)
Bring In the New Year by Grace Lin
The family prepares for New Year — Jie-Jie sweeps the old year out of the house, Ba-Ba hangs the poems, Ma-Ma makes the dumplings, everyone does their part. Richly patterned artwork makes this story pop.
Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin
Lin invites readers to learn all about this delicious Chinese cuisine as a family picks out their food to eat. Yum!
The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey
The Jade Emperor decides to name each calendar year after an animal and will pick the order based off the first twelve animals who finished in a race. 13 animals start but only 12 can finish. Who do you predict will be out?
Riding on a Caravan: A Silk Road Adventure by Laurie Krebs, illustrated by Helen Cann
The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by David Roberts
The Empty Pot by Demi
The Emperor gives all the children in his kingdom a flower seed to plant and grow. Ping loves flowers but his seed fails to grow. He takes his empty pot to the Emperor and admits that the seed failed to grow. To his surprise, the Emperor rewards Ping for his honesty.
The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale by Ying Chang Compesten
Crouching Tiger by Ying Chang Compestine illustrated by Yan Nascimbene
This story captures a common story of feeling embarrassed about being different. When Vinson’s grandpa from China visits, Vinson is embarrassed. However, Vinson learns grandpa is a martial-arts master and starts to see grandpa him as someone to be proud of. The elements of Chinese culture like tai chi and clothing make us all learn proud Vinson can be of his culture.
The Cat from Hunger Mountain by Ed Young (maybe CHINA, somewhere in Asia)
Find Mom’s Wok by Jung Hee Kim, illustrated by Jung Ah Noh
Vibrant art pairs well with this delicious story that features the food of China. Shao Ming lives in China and her mom asks her to bring a wok to her uncle for tonight’s feast. On the way, Shao Ming visits the market, watches the impressive dragon parade, and . . . loses her mom’s special wok! Ut-oh. She tries to find it by visiting different places that sell food. Readers will discover the different foods and flavors of China — a spicy tofu meal, the tea ceremony, steamed crabs, dim sum, and more — as Shao searches all day. Reading this will make you want to have your own Chinese cuisine sampling.
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim, illustrated by Grace Zong
My daughter says this picture book is SO MUCH better than the original “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” because in this story of a young Chinese girl named Goldy, Goldy returns to the scene of her crime to apologize and help fix things. This is a better ending. I agree!
Hot Pot Night! by Vincent Chen
Lyrical, simple, and repetitive language narrates the story of a young boy who brings his neighbors who all contribute ingredients and tools including a hot pot to make a hot pot communal meal. This meal brings many people by preparing and sharing a meal. “Hot pot, hot pot, let’s have a hot pot!”
The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty and the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep, illustrated by Kam Mak
With similarities to the French Beauty and the Beast story, this a unique Chinese fairy tale about a brave daughter who tries to save her father from a dragon who is really a prince.
Confucius Great Teacher of China by Demi
Children’s Books About the Chinese Language of Mandarin
Mandarin: 100 Mandarin Words to Learn (First Words) by Lonely Planet Kids
From hello to book to movie theater, learn basic Mandarin words in this brightly illustrated book. On the left side of the page, the word is written in English then in Mandarin characters with the phonetic script and pronunciation. For example, cat is 猫, māo (mao). This book is quite visually appealing — it would be fun to go through a word a day! Use the QR code on the back or visit the First Words website to hear the words pronounced by a native child.
Chineasy for Children by ShaoLan
My First Book of Chinese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book of Language and Culture by Faye-Lynn Wu, illustrated by Aya Padron
Beautiful illustrations show family life while sharing the Chinese language and culture.
The Pet Dragon: A Story about Adventure, Friendship, and Chinese Characters by Christoph Niemann
Lin has a pet dragon. They do everything together — play ping-pong, teak stories, and play hide and seek. Then one day, Lin’s dragon disappears. She must find where he is! As you read, you’ll be impressed at how the author/illustrator incorporates the Chinese characters (Mandarin) into captivating illustrations. I LOVE everything about this book.