Chinese Book Recommendation: My First Book of Chinese words

  • Post last modified:7 October 2021
  • Post comments:1 Comment

About the book

Language: English (with Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and pinyin for the words)

ISBN : 978-0804849418

This is a delightful book for English first language children who would like to learn Mandarin as a second language. This English-Chinese picture book serves as a gentle introduction to the language of Chinese. 

It uses the English alphabet as the framework to introduce Chinese words starting with that letter. Please note though that Chinese is an orthographic language i.e. based on pictures, so the concept of a Chinese alphabet is a myth. What this book achieves beautifully is to frame it within the familiar English alphabet, so young non-Chinese speaking readers can relate to the Chinese sounds.

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chinese book review my first book of chinese words
Sample Page 1
chinese book review my first book of chinese words
Sample Page 2

For each letter of the alphabet, there is a corresponding Chinese word whose pinyin starts with the letter. So for instance A, is for 爱 ài which means love. There is a lovely little poem/rhyme that accompanies each letter, as well as side notes to explain any special rules or exceptions to the sound. (Did you know that there are no V sounds in Chinese?)

The illustrations are beautiful and warm, and delightful to look at.Bonus: you can download an audio reading of the Chinese words from the publisher’s website if you are a non-native speaker.

If you are an English speaker and would like a first introduction to Chinese words and sounds for your little English speaker, this is a delightful addition to your bookshelf. It won’t teach your child Chinese but it will get your child thinking about the connection between the English language and the Chinese language. 

If you would like to teach your child to read and write Chinese, then I recommend you look at these following titles.

Sage book readers (Read the review here)

Odonata reader series

What I like about this book

The book reads easily for young readers, and the author has managed to pick out some very typical Chinese words to go along with the English alphabet, such as B for bāo zi (包子), D for dēng lóng (灯笼) and J for jiǎo zi (饺子), which I felt was a nice cultural touch.

What I dislike about this book

Honestly there is nothing I dislike about it. It’s an absolutely sweet and delightful read. 

Even now at age 7, Da Bao still enjoys reading this book. But for different reasons. At 4 years old, he loved listening to the rhyming sentences. Now, at age 7, he is comparing the Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese characters. 


Where to purchase

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book with my family. If you are thinking of getting a copy,  you can get it on Amazon or Book Depository. This book is available in both ebook and hardcover version. You can also get the ebook version on Apple Books. 

If you are looking to start a Chinese library at home, here are some highly recommended books that we love.

Happy Reading!

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