Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Books - Chinese Characters

As we've been meandering into the Chinese culture, I've become both fascinated and very much intimidated by the language and writing. Even for a basic exploration, there is much to be said and seen. Starting next week, I'm going to begin a weekly feature around Chinese characters and language, through calligraphy, idioms, and proverbs. In the meantime, the following books are colorful and fun, perfect for introducing children (and quite frankly, this adult) to the wonders of Chinese characters.

The Pet Dragon: A Story about Adventure, Friendship, and Chinese Characters by Christoph Niemann.

In Elle's favorite book, Lin and her pet dragon set off on a journey. This book introduces us to 33 Chinese characters, which are very cleverly integrated into these playful illustrations.

In the Leaves by Huy Voun Lee.

This book is beautifully illustrated with paper cutting. Xiao Ming teaches his friends 10 Chinese characters during a trip on the farm set in autumn. We've only read this book, but Huy Voun Lee has three other companion books set in winter, spring and summer: At the Beach, In the Snow, and In the Park.

Liu and the Bird: A Journey in Chinese Calligraphy  by Catherine Louis.

In this story, Liu sets off on a journey to see her grandfather, helped by many along the way, including a bird. This book is beautifully illustrated with linocuts, and introduces 30 Chinese characters. Each character is shown with an image, the ancient pictograph, and the current character, showing it's evolution and the visual nature of Chinese writing. This book also has a few activities for kids which help see the connection between writing and images.

My Little Book of Chinese Words (Bilingual Edition) (English and Mandarin Chinese Edition) also by Catherine Louis.

This little book, approximately 5 by 5 inches, is a great reference book, with over 100 characters, again beautifully illustrated with linocuts. Each word is seen with a clear, large Chinese character, it's ancient counterpart, the english translation, and it's pronunciation. The facing page for each character are the linocuts illustrating the words.
We used this book as our reference when creating our spring couplets for Chinese New Year.

Books are a wonderful way to experience new worlds and ideas. Our house is filled with books, most of which are borrowed from our public library. Public libraries are an incredible resource, making books accessible to everyone, and we highly encourage everyone to discover theirs. If you are hoping to build your own home library, I've made it easy by linking book titles to Amazon.com. Please note that I have become affiliated with them, which means that if you make a purchase, you are also supporting this website.

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