Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Books of the Week: Favorite Chinese Themed Children's Books

I love reading Chinese and Asian themed books to Henry.  I feel like I'm instilling in a tiny way Chinese culture into his psyche, and hopefully giving him a strong sense of identity.  I recently heard a 6 year old boy, who is half Japanese/half Caucasian, say that he thinks he looks weird, because his eyes are funny.  A high school girl I met a few months ago was offended when I couldn't tell she was half white.  She openly told me that she is slightly ashamed of her Asian half.  I told her she'll figure it all out eventually and will be very proud of who she is.  Most of us just want to fit in.  Argh!  I hope Henry never feels that his Taiwanese half makes him look or feel odd - although I'm sure he will inevitably feel some version of this at some point in his life.  

Hopefully, reading some books about Asians doing Asian cultured things will help him be proud of his Asian identity, rather than it being something that embarrasses him.  Aside - I find it interesting that even now, most of these Chinese children's books are written by non-Chinese authors.  

Below are some of our favorites:
Zen Shorts (Collector's Edition) (Zen)Zen Shorts (Collector's Edition) (Zen)
This book has beautiful watercolor illustrations and best of all tells short didactic zen tales.  Currently, Henry loves the fat panda pictures, but he sits through the stories.  I'm hoping as he gets older he will learn the meaning of the stories too!
The Empty PotThe Empty Pot
A sweet story teaching us that honesty rules all.
Tikki Tikki TemboTikki Tikki Tembo
Great rhythm, although I wonder if I'll read it to my second son, who might feel inadequate like Chang, the second son in this book whose name meant "little or nothing at all."
Round is a Mooncake: A Book of ShapesRound is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes
Learn some shapes that relate to Chinese culture!
The Story about Ping (Reading Railroad Books)The Story about Ping (Reading Railroad Books)
Little Ping the duck learns that he'd rather get spanked and be with his family than be alone on the Yangtze river and almost eaten.  Niiiiice moral to the story.

Also popular, but not my favorite:
Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from ChinaLon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China
Creepy illustrations with a creepy story about killing a wolf ... but it's a classic, right?
The Five Chinese Brothers (Paperstar)The Five Chinese Brothers (Paperstar)
There's no moral to this story, but I suppose their super powers are somewhat interesting.

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