Fantastic Chinese language books for kids
See our list of Chinese children’s books with Pinyin and/or Hanzi, for kids learning the Mandarin Chinese language. Aside from being a perfect addition to online Chinese courses for kids, we recommend books because:
- Reading stories is a fun way of learning
- Gives a feeling of accomplishment when finishing a book
- Provides confidence to the child in understanding a story
- Cultivates good habits of reading and learning
Here below we have four categories to divide books for children into:
- Chinese Picture books
- Graded Chinese learners for children (adhering to the HSK system)
- Chinese learning systems books for children (bundles of booklets)
- Other Chinese children books (non-bundled and non-graded yet still designed for foreign children learning Chinese)
- Other Mandarin children’s books (made for Chinese kids rather than foreign kids learning Chinese)
1: Picture books for learning Chinese
Picture books are good companions for children’s Chinese learning. However, how to choose suitable for children’s Chinese learning books always gives parents’ headaches. Here are some some easy Chinese books for kids between the ages of 1 and 6, hoping that you can find the right book! These books don’t include any English, but do have Chinese characters and often Pinyin.
1. Little Chick Qiu Qiu
“小鸡球球xiǎo jī qiú qiú” consists of 8 series, which covers all the cover all needs of children under 6 years old. Each series has different characteristics, like a cognitive book, pop-up book, a tactile book, creative book, and interactive book, etc. Parents can choose the appropriate series according to their child’s age from 0 to 6 years old and their period of language development.
This set of books has several advantages:
- The Well-known IP image is to be loved and attracted by children.
- The content is close to life, which make it easy to apply what you learn. For example: Thank you/ Good friends/ I love you Mom/ shape-color-size-number/Happy Birthday… …
- Developing children’s senses and intelligence
The complete series is more helpful for children’s Chinese enlightenment and Chinese learning system.
2. Pip and Posy
“波西和皮普bō xī hé pí pǔ” is a magical book—— so many mothers, like the author of this piece, report that their kids always keep asking to read the book again and again.
The series of stories happened between two young friends named 波西bō xī and 皮普pí pǔ, involving behavior habits, different personality and friendship. They tell us to be kind, modest and loving. The biggest feature of the books is that, every single story has a turning point, which is both reasonable and unexpected, like peeing your pants, holding different opinions, or getting injured. 波西 and 皮普 can solve all problems, and end up having fun together. It is really a perfect book to teach children emotional management and problem solving.
3. What’s that sound?
Do you want your baby to know the world at a very early age? Even she or he still still can’t walk or crawl? The book series “听，什么声音tīng, shén me shēng yīn” can help children hear 36 ‘authentic sounds’ just by moving their fingers.
“听，什么声音” covers six major themes: Zoo, Farm, Nature, Transportation, Music and Musical Instruments. The sound is real and picture is colorful, which is very attractive to the baby’s attention! Every book has a scene, the animals, plants and behaviors in the scene could help children understand the world!
4. Bizzy Bear
“小熊很忙xiǎo xióng hěn máng” is a very famous book series that exercises children’s hand-eye coordination (but also lets them learn Mandarin at the same time). Ingenious mechanisms include turning, pushing and pulling, etc., improving children’s fine hand movements. During the critical period of kids’ initial behavioral development, sufficient and effective practice can help children develop better.
Meanwhile, every book has a particular scenario where kids can really enjoy exploring the story as they read it. It is worth mentioning that the book board is very thick, rounded corners, which play a protective use. This book will cultivate your child’s habit of reading from an early age.
2: HSK-graded Chinese learners for children
If your child is learning with the YCT/HSK system, check out our graded Chinese readers article. This is because Chinese children books can still be notoriously hard if you learn through the HSK system, while graded readers will specifically use words only from the HSK or YCT system, and if they do not they will highlight the meaning in Pinyin and English. This makes them perfect learning materials for young or old Chinese learners.
There are special Mandarin Chinese graded readers for children. See the ‘Friends’ series from Beijing Language and Culture University Press (BLCUP) here, and check out the ‘Teenager’ series. Although it says teenager, these illustrated Chinese stories are actually more suitable for primary or elementary school children.
BLCUP also publishes the vanilla HSK books, and offers these graded Chinese books for children from HSK1 to HSK6. This would be our top recommendation if you’re looking for Mandarin Chinese children’s books.
3: Chinese learning systems books for children
So a small warning here: these books are non-HSK-graded: They use basic Chinese words, but do not adhere to the YCT or HSK structure. Yet these books may still be very useful for learning Chinese. All these sets listed in this section are learning systems, they consist of many booklets, aimed to introduce Chinese characters to children. The benefit is that this provides a curriculum for children and this allows you to create a learning habit without always having to hunt for new books.
One example is ‘基础汉字 Sagebooks 500’, which introduces the first 500 Chinese Hanzi characters to very children (including Pinyin and English). There are five sets, from total beginner to more fluent reader, and the series is often praised on other blogs too. We would recommend this to very young children though because the stories fit that age group the best.
Similar to Sagebooks is ‘我自己会读 Greenfield’. You can see here a preview on YouTube to get a good impression of the kind of stories. They come in either Traditional or Simplified characters so make sure you buy the right one! There are a lot of sets for this, so they can be a fantastic curriculum to go through after classes. They also come with CDs so you can hear the correct pronunciation.
Then there’s also the massive series with 300 booklets called ‘台灣樂樂文化 Le Le Chinese Reading Pen System‘. It’s a leveled system (Essential, Intermediate and Advanced) but not necessarily HSK, that teaches children around 1000 Chinese characters. There’s no Pinyin on these books, but there is a speaking pen that kids can use.
Another good set of books for kids is ‘四五快读 4, 5, Quick Read’. This set comes with 8 books, including flashcards. If your child knows 40 to 50 characters, she or he can start reading these. There is no Pinyin in these books though. Here’s a preview on YouTube.
Then lastly is ‘学前阅读计划 Odonata‘. They’re used a lot in Malaysia. There are five series with each 8 books for children using common Chinese words. With Pinyin.
Another one to mention are ‘Chinese For Kids Learning Fun Workbook‘ workbooks. They’re not real reading books, but still designed specifically for non-Chinese children learning Chinese, with fun exercises. Here is a demo on Instagram.
4: Other Chinese children books (designed for second language learning)
These books are non-bundled and non-graded, yet still designed for foreign children learning Chinese.
Our Little Mando is a small publisher that published the book One Little Pig, designed as a bilingual picture book.
The sentences rhyme in Chinese (you can basically sing them) and the illustrations are super cute. More books are coming soon, and we hope they’re created with as much love as this one!
There’s also Spark Collection, with books from Irene Kang. Her first book, ‘My Favorite Gift‘ has a light yet fun story with Hanzi characters, Pinyin, and English, and big flaps to reveal vocabulary. Plus it comes with audio. And another thing we love is that the main character is Asian.
Another top publisher is Candied Plums, who publishes books in Hanzi characters, Pinyin and English. From the ‘Peanut Fart’ to ‘Express delivery from dinosaur world’, these stories are beautifully illustrated and written with love.
Other recommendations are ‘Slangman’s Fairytales’, ‘Mandy and Pandy‘, ‘Gordon & Lily‘, and the Chinese/English story of Mulan, or ‘Princess Snow White‘.
A bit of an outlier is ‘My First Book of Chinese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book‘, it uses English paragraphs to introduce Chinese characters.
5: Other Mandarin children’s books
A small warning: These books aren’t really made for foreign Chinese learners, but rather for Chinese children. They would be a challenge for most Mandarin adult learners as well. Again, these are non-graded into HSK.
Pippi Longstockings (长袜子皮皮) is translated into Chinese with Pinyin characters above it. This book is very cheap on Taobao in China, but outside of China it’s going for some insane prices on Amazon.
If you grew up with the Dutch children books of Jip & Janneke, these are also translated into Chinese for children, and many children absolutely adore these stories. Available on Amazon (but out of stock at this time of writing), but very cheap on Taobao in China.
And a last suggestion is ‘Rory the Dinosaur wants a pet‘ in Chinese, because it’s such a lovely story for kids & adults alike. Other than that, it’s worth browsing Simplified Chinese books for children on Amazon!