6 Best Chinese Children Books to Read Aloud for Babies and Toddlers

by | Blog, Teaching Chinese at Home

Reading Chinese children’s books is one of the best methods to teach Chinese at home. It’s even better when you start early when they are babies and toddlers.

In this blog post, I share tips and methods for reading aloud and how to build a foundation for babies and toddlers.

Also, I will introduce 6 of the best Chinese children’s books to help you get started. Plus, other activities enhance language learning for babies and toddlers.

>>>>> Enter the huge giveaway below!

The post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission to support my blog and free printables at no cost to you. See the Disclosure for more details.

 

5 Essential Early Reading Skills to Aware 

Reading and language skills begin to develop even before babies are born. The University of Texas at Austin has identified five early reading skills essential to learning:

  • Phonemic awareness — being able to hear, identify, and play with individual sounds in spoken words
  • Phonics — being able to connect the letters of written language with the sounds of spoken language
  • Vocabulary — the words children need to know for effective communication
  • Reading Comprehension — being able to understand and get meaning from what they read
  • Fluency — being accurate and quick when reading text

Reading aloud is a form of conversation and conversing with children matters.” Reading to children allows them to gain all five early reading skills naturally. We should read to them as often and as young as possible.

 

 

 

My Reading Experience

Reading at home wasn’t emphasized growing up. My parents were not educated, and they both work hard every day. So, I only read books assigned by teachers to complete school assignments.

Since becoming a mother I learned the significance of reading. I grew to understand how important it is for a child’s development and language learning. So, we borrowed books from the library and started to collect books for our home library.

We have personal reading time and family reading time before bed almost every day. We have 15-30 minutes sitting together while reading our own books. Then my husband and I take turns reading aloud as a family.

Buying books as gifts instead of toys or carrying books on outings has become normal for our family.

We focused on teaching our children to read in whatever language they wanted first. My girls learned to read in English first. We encouraged them to read more and more. Learning to read in one language helps them to learn to read Chinese later on.

How?

Because they know how to read and get information from books. They already have the skill of comprehension when they start learning to read a second language.

Are you too busy and overwhelmed with activities, prep, finding time to be with your children? Drop everything but keep reading with your children.  

When children love reading and learning from books, the world opens up to them. The activities and other things come later.

 

 

 

How to Read to Babies and Toddlers

It can be difficult to read to babies and toddlers. You may be even wondering if it is necessary since they won’t respond much. Or toddlers will only spend 5 minutes flipping the books, and then they may want to chew them or destroy them.

 

 

The Benefits of Reading Aloud to Babies and Toddlers

fortune cookie mom

Here are several benefits of reading aloud, there are many more than listed here.

  • Create family bonding
  • Build family culture and traditions
  • Expands vocabulary
  • Helps develop language skills, cognitive thinking skills, and enhances memory
  • Exposed to different cultures and places
  • Improve reading comprehension
  • Opportunities to start conversation and discussion
  • Encourages imagination and creativity
  • Encourages learning
  • Enjoyment and reduce stress

 

Benefits specific to reading Chinese books aloud to babies and toddlers

  • Exposes and connects them with new vocabulary
  • Exposes a different kind of cultural background
  • Provides opportunities to hear different sounds and tones and expression
  • Encourages learning Chinese at home
  • Make learning Chinese natural

 

 

Reading to Babies

Why Read to Babies?

abies seem to only eat and sleep all day. But there is a lot of learning going on, especially in their senses.

Their hearing is far more developed than other senses. Babies respond to their mother’s voice during the third trimester of pregnancy.

The more words your babies hear over time, the more words they learn and understand.

 

How?

Birth – 6 months
  • Use small, chunky board books, soft fabric books, or vinyl bath books that your baby can hold onto.
  • Talk about the pictures with your little one.
  • Sing the text to keep their attention.
  • Play peek-a-boo with lift-the-flap books.
  • Help your baby to touch, feel, even chew the books.
  • They may not pay attention to the story, and it’s fine. So take a break when they get bored. We are trying to create the habit.
6-11 months
  • Offer short, simple stories with colorful pictures and images board books
  • Let them explore books by looking, touching, opening, and closing the books.
  • They may have a favorite story they want to read over and over
  • Talk about the pictures and ask them simple questions about the pictures
  • Sing the text to keep their attention.
  • Use different voices and expression
  • Have your child help turn the pages.

 

 

 

Reading to Toddlers

A Cantonese picture book

Why? 

It’s an important period for developing routines and good habits. It also helps them to explore the world and sate their curiosity. Reading will help expand their vocab and comprehension. They will find joy and comfort from reading books and learning.

 

How?

12 -18 months
  • Offer board books with simple stories, stories with rhymes, and repeated phrases
  • They love stories and pictures about babies and familiar objects. Things such as animals and toys.
  • Start reading word by word while pointing to the picture or acting it out
  • Use different voices and expressions
  • Point to the pictures and say the names of objects and colors.
18-24 months
  • Introduce longer stories with more plot and content.
  • They love humor, funny stories, and silly rhymes at this age.
  • They love to run and move around during reading
  • Read word by word while pointing to the picture or act it out
  • Use different voices and expression
  • Allow them to turn the pages and hold the book
  • Take time to discuss what’s happening in the books
  • Ask your child to describe the pictures. Repeat phrases used in the story and predict what will happen next
  • Take time to answer questions.
  • Follow the words with your finger as you read.

 

 

 

 

What Chinese books are suitable for 0-3 years old?

I get this question quite often.

For little kids, I prefer books that are easier for little hands to hold and flip, such as board books, soft books, etc.

Also, bright colors with clear big images will be more attractive.

Of course, simple vocabulary or phrases are plus as well.

 

If you don’t have a Chinese library at home

Use family albums, magazines with fun photos, any books your kiddos show interest in. Go for it.

You can translate and describe the images in any language you want.

 

 

Here is a list of amazing bilingual Chinese-English children’s books. They are interactive, fun, and perfect for little kids for fluent or non-fluent families to use.

arrow down

Gordon & Li Li: Learn Animals in Mandarin

I won this book from a giveaway on Instagram! I was so happy because we had begun to introduce Mandarin to my children, so it was a perfect book to first with.

 

Basic Information

  • Title: Gordon & Li Li: Learn Animals in Mandarin
  • Author: Michele Wong McSween
  • ISBN-10 : 0982088124/ ISBN-13 : 978-0982088128
  • Age level: Birth – Age 6
  • Where to buy: you can get it from Amazon here

Summary 

Learn English and Mandarin words with panda cousins Gordon & Li Li in this charming and colorful bilingual first words book series.

 

What to Expect? 

Each page highlights a single animal using colorful images. It has simplified Chinese characters with pinyin, an English translation, and phonetic pronunciation to help parents to read along.

In this book, you and your child are going to learn about the following animals:

  • Alligator
  • Lion
  • Fish
  • Horse
  • Duck
  • Hippopotamus
  • Cow
  • Zebra
  • Panda
  • Dolphin
  • Giraffe
  • Monkey
  • Shark
  • Killer whale
  • Polar bear
  • Penguin
  • Pig
  • Snake
  • Chicken
  • Elephant
  • Sheep
  • Rhinoceros
  • Rabbit
  • Frog
  • Mouse
  • Seal
  • Tiger
  • Bear

This is also a hard-board book, it’s perfect for babies to touch, flip, and play with.

Other Books & Resources from Gordon & Li Li

They also have other Chinese bilingual board books & resources:

 

If you want more information about them, click here to go onto their official site.

 

 

 

Bitty Bao Bilingual Board Books

I have received the Round 1 book bundle (with a total of 3 books) from Bitty Bao. When I opened the boxes and looked at the books, my kids fell in love with them.

We love the quality, the images, the contents, pretty much everything.

These two moms did an amazing job creating wonderful Chinese bilingual books.

 

Basic Information 

Book 1
  • Title: The Colors of Snow Ice 彩色雪花冰
  • ISBN 978-1-7349664-1-1
Book2
  • Title: Counting with Dim Sum 跟著點心數數
  • ISBN 978-1-7349664-0-4
Book3
  • Title: Everyday Heroes 生活中的英雄
  • ISBN 978-1-7349664-2-8

 

     

    Summary 

    Book 1: The Colors of Snow Ice 彩色雪花冰

    This book teaches 10 color words in Mandarin Chinese while putting the Taiwanese snow ice dessert together.

     

    Book2: Counting with Dim Sum 跟著點心數數

    This interactive book teaches children to count up to 10 in Mandarin. It uses different delicious dim sum to do so.

     

    Book3: Everyday Heroes 生活中的英雄

    This book introduces different vocabularies of the community helpers and people and different Chinese food, vegetables, and fruits at the same time.

    What to Expect? 

    First, you will fall in love with the images they created. Guess how they created these cute images? They drew it and cut it all by themselves. That’s very creative and original. Interested in their creation process?  Click here to learn more.

    They also have Traditional Chinese characters with Zhuyin, pinyin, and English translation. The font is very clear, easy to read, perfect for little kids.

    At the end of each book, there is a bonus page.

     

    For Example

    Counting with Dim Sum: a dim sum picture glossary with real photos of yummy dim sum

    The Colors of Snow Ice: a step-by-step recipe to make fluffy ice with photos

    Everyday Heroes: a couple of sentences for you to fill in the blank

    Other Books from Bitty Bao: 

    There are another 3 books from Round 2 which are about Chinese festivals

     

    If you would like to find out more click here to get on their official site.

     

     

     

     

    Chinese Sound Book: Bao Bao Learns Chinese

    Basic Information 

    • Title: Bao Bao learns Chinese
    • Author: Peipei Zhou
    • ISBN 978-0-692-16430-3 (red book) 978-1-7342089-0-0 (blue book)
    • Age level: Birth – Age 6
    • Where to buy: you can get the red sound book and the blue sound book at Amazon.com

     

    Summary 

    Each sound book contains 6 classic nursery rhymes in Mandarin Chinese. They are perfect for introducing Mandarin Chinese to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.

    What to Expect? 

    Excellent choice of songs 

    Both of the Bao Bao Learns Chinese sound books contain a lot of my favorite childhood Chinese and English nursery rhymes. I love how they incorporate both Eastern and Western children’s songs together.

     

    In the red sound book, you’ll learn:

    • Itsy- Bitsy Spider
    • Two Tigers
    • Find a Friends
    • Row Row Row Your Boat
    • Mama Is The Best In This World
    • Twinkle Twinkle Littler Star

     

    In the blue sound book, you’ll learn:

    • I’m a Little Teapot
    • Good Baby Rabbit
    • If You’re Happy And You Know It
    • Happy New Year
    • My Dear Mama
    • You Are My Sunshine

     

     

     

    Special Features

    They are beautiful, durable, well-made board books. Each book has Simplified Chinese characters, pinyin, and an English translation.

    Press a button to hear a calming mother’s singing voice and musical accompaniment.  The sound is clear and high-quality. I also love their volume choices, we have the options of quieter or louder. The books make it easy to follow and sing along with the songs, even if you’re a beginner.

     

     

    Pronunciation Guide Video

    I recently found out they created videos. They show how to pronounce each character in the nursery rhymes for free! Find them HERE. That’s huge! It is so helpful when learning Mandarin Chinese.

    If you want to find out more about them, click here to get on their official site.

     

     

     

     

    Cantonese-English Bilingual Books

    resources and activities to teach kids reading in cantonese

    For those who want to teach your kids Cantonese, I have something special for you.

    These Cantonese-English bilingual books are perfect for teaching babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. They use spoken Cantonese/colloquial Cantonese. It also has Jyutping pronunciation, phonetic pronunciation, and English translation.

     

    Click here to read the detailed review I wrote.

     

     

     

     

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar

    Chinese/English bilingual books are an excellent choice for babies and toddlers!  Don’t forget these classics your kids are already familiar with.

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a favorite book throughout the world. It is translated into almost every language. You can choose between the Traditional Chinese or Simplified Chinese version.

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar

    I created two sets of Chinese printable to go along with this book. You can teach your kids Chinese with the book and this printable.

    Click here to learn more about the Very Hungry Caterpillar: Chinese Printable

     

     

     

     

    Guess How much I Love You

    It’s another classic translated into almost every language. Here you can get the Traditional Chinese or Simplified Chinese version from Amazon.

    guess how much I love you

    I also created two sets of Chinese printables to go along with this book, and it is FREE for you to download.

    I hope you can start teaching Chinese at your home with these familiar children’s books.

     

    Click here to learn more about the Chinese printable for Guess How Much I Love You I created.

     

     

     

     

    How do we make reading a memorable experience? 

    Reading books wasn’t a pleasant experience when I was growing up. My English teacher read for the whole class almost every week, but with a boring robotic voice.

    There wasn’t any explanation or time to ask questions, nothing but reading word by word.

    As English was our second language, most of us fell asleep or daydreamed. It has a horrible experience and many grew to hate English books.

    So, don’t read aloud because to check it off the list, but make it fun for you and your child. If not, it can have a negative result and experience for your child.

     

     

     

    Here are suggestions to make reading aloud a positive memorable experience:

    Fortune Cookie Mom
    • Add props
    • Movement & music
    • Find media to watch ( for 3 years old and older)
    • Read & talk about it over and over
    • Display the books
    • Create life experiences from the book (living book). Go visit the actual site, re-create a site, pretend play
    • Read using different voices
    • Hold a tea party using the theme of the book

     

     

     

    Other activities to enhance Chinese learning for babies and toddlers

    • Create a Chinese-rich language environment at home
    • Speak to them and let them see your mouth movement (talk about your day, pointing to different objects)
    • Ask them questions
    • Repeat what they say in Chinese and ask them to repeat with you
    • Use conversational phrases to show encouragement, love, and support
    • Sing Chinese children songs with your child
    • Show video of other kids’ speaking Chinese
    • Let your child try different Chinese cultural foods and snacks
    • Show your child you are also learning Chinese and love the culture

     

     

     

     

    What’s the Next Step? Suggestions from me

    teaching Chinese with theme-based approach: Chinese theme packs

    My suggestion is to enjoy speaking and reading books with your kids. Reading helps kids fall in love with learning the Chinese culture and language. 

    Then, when they are around 4 years old, use a Chinese Theme-based approach. Expose them to the Chinese language through hands-on activities, simple games, and activities. It can all be done at home.

    When they are 5 years old start having them recognize Chinese characters. Start more formal Chinese character learning together for about 15-30 minutes each day.

    When they are learning Chinese characters, don’t forget to keep reading Chinese books for fun. It can speed up and solidify their progress in character learning as well.

    Click the link the learn all the detail of the Chinese Theme-based approach.

     

     

     

    Have a struggle or question about reading and teaching Chinese to your little ones? Let me know! 

     

     

    If you got a chance to read these books, feel free to share your experience and thoughts with me and my family.

    You can take a photo and tag @fortunecookiemom on Instagram or Facebook and use the hashtag #fortunecookiemom

    We’d love to hear from you as well.

    Enter to the Giveaway

    Fortune Cookie Mom is 5 this month. To show my appreciation, I would love to celebrate with you with a GIVEAWAY (over $200 USD prizes!!) 

    Let’s talk about the prizes

    1st winner:

    Win a 13 Pack Bundle Chinese Theme Pack & a $25 Amazon gift card ($181USD of value) 

    2nd, 3rd,& 4th winners:

    2 prizes for 3 winners (winners’ choice)

    You can choose either one of them:
    1. Bao Bao Learns Chinese Songbook + Dragon Boat Festival Bilingual book from Bitty Bao
    2. Gordon & Li Li Learning Animals in Mandarin Coloring & Activity book + Learn Animals in Mandarin App Promo Code
    3. Goh Goh & Dai Dai’s Big Day with Elephant Cantonese Bilingual book + My First Colors in Cantonese & English book

     

     

    How to enter

    Leave a comment in this blog post, and tell me your favorite memory from Fortune Cookie Mom and tell me which prize would you like (if you are the 2nd,3rd, or 4th winners)

    Good luck and thanks your for your support & love.

    You Are Not Doing it Alone

    Join my Facebook support group to meet and get connections with parents and educators with the same goals.

    After being a member, you can attend all the special LIVE training, events, and activities together.

    Homeschooling Young Kids in Chinese Facebook Group
    Amazon Influencer Page
    Chinese resource library

    身为职业妈妈的我,常常牺牲睡眠来自作教材。版主全方位学习的新年教材真让我省下不少宝贵的时间找资料。四岁的女儿对中文学习有点抗拒。我们善用版主提供的迷你故事书和生字卡来增强她对语文的认识。版主的中文单词棋盘游戏更让女儿投入学习, 因为她想赢嘛!版主的教材可让小孩边玩边学, 太棒了。

    Grace

    两个小孩的职业妈妈

    This is the second 5-Day Challenge that we have done with Fortune Cookie Mom. Both have been very beneficial to our family. I am a homeschool mom of three little kids. We are not Chinese and do not speak any Chinese. With the help of Fortune Cookie Mom, we are slowly learning! The challenges have given me fun activities to do at home with the kids. Each one has reignited my kid's interest in learning. It has been a fun experience for everybody!

    Nicolette

    Homeschooling Mom of Three

    12 Comments

    1. Edeline

      Great books to check out! Thank you for all the info!

      From your email – love both #1 and #2 🙂

      Reply
      • fortunecookiemom

        You are very welcome Edeline.

        Reply
      • Roger

        Thank you for your work.

        Reply
        • Po Tim King

          Thank you for your encouragement.

          Reply
    2. Leslie Chan

      I used your Mother’s Day cards this last week! I’ve also used some of your other printables and love reading your blog and seeing all your resources. Thank you so much for all this great info! I’d love to win prize 2 if I don’t win the grand prize. 😉

      Reply
      • fortunecookiemom

        Thank you so much Leslie. It’s so good to know that my printable and resources are helpful for you and your family.

        Reply
    3. Christina Kong

      My favorite memory is the Facebook Lives you host and you did one with Honey! I’m Homeschooling. Thank you for all the great content. If not grand prize, I’d love to win prize #1. Thanks!

      Reply
      • Po Tim King

        Thanks for letting me know, Christina. I love talking about homeschooling and never stop. Haaa… Thanks for your support! Good luck.

        Reply
    4. Rachelle

      I appreciate your printables and guidance for teaching Chinese! We are Cantonese so we would prefer #3 🙂

      Reply
      • fortunecookiemom

        Thank you so much. Thanks for your support.

        Reply
    5. Tina

      Your blog is great! I’m so glad I found it! I am very motivated to teach my son Cantonese and Mandarin, and I hope he will come to love and appreciate where he comes from. We are doing One Parent One Language at home now, but I sometimes struggle to remember to speak Chinese only. We have a small collection of Chinese books, and I’m hoping to expand our library. My son loves the Bao Bao Learns Chinese red book so far. I don’t have a favorite memory yet, but I am sure I will soon! Thank you for providing great resources and giving me more support to teach my son!

      Reply
      • fortunecookiemom

        Thanks for your comment Tina. It’s wonderful to know we are on the same journey. If you have any suggestions to create and improve my resources, feel free to let me know.

        Reply

    Submit a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Pin It on Pinterest

    Shares
    Share This