Asian Heritage Month: Children’s Feature: Books about China

Asian Heritage Month:

Children’s Feature: Books about China

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez/@ZaraAlexis

In light of Asian Heritage Month and Mother’s Day, the posts on The Bibliotaphe’s Closet will feature children’s books and stories about and originating from Asian countries every day of this week.

To not only celebrate the beauty of Asian culture, it’s also important to share cultural stories with children to broaden their understanding of the importance of cultural diversity and inclusivity.

Today’s children feature is about books and stories about and originating from China.

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Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats

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Category: Children’s/China

Authors: Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz, The Children’s Museum, Boston

llustrated by: Meilo So

Format: Children’s Hardcover, 74 pages

Publisher: Gulliver Books, Harcourt Inc.

ISBN: 0-15-201983-9

Pub Date: 2002

My Review:

Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats is an extensive collection of Chinese holiday folktales, fun activities for kids, and easy-to-learn recipes.

It’s broken into four parts:

  1. Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival
  2. Qing Ming and the Cold Foods Festival
  3. The Dragon Boat Festival
  4. Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

And has a wonderful variety of Chinese folktales and information on the meaning of Chinese practices, traditions, and significant Chinese symbols that children can easily understand.

The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) crafts are creative and fun and include craft ideas for New Year prints, good luck characters, Chinese shuttlecocks, paper lanterns, kites, dragon boats, pinwheels, fragrant bags, and shadow puppets.

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And though it’s children’s treasury, an adult could easily find the content readable, interesting, and a fun instructional guide for the children in his or her life. It’s also an excellent resource for teachers and those in need of an Asian educational tool.

I especially enjoyed learning about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival also known as the Harvest Moon Festival that honours the female goddess of the moon. I also enjoyed learning about the history of the moon cake (which is one of my favourite Asian pastries) and how to make the Five-Treasure Moon Cakes, which I may just try before the month ends in celebration of Asian Heritage Month.

Moon cake

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This book would be an excellent addition to the culturally appreciative reader and an excellent resource for families.

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Zara’s Rating

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Maples in the Mist: Children’s Poems and the Tang Dynasty

 

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Category: Children’s/China

Authors: Minfong Ho

Illustrated By: Jean & Mou-sien Tseng

Format: Children’s Hardcover, 32 pages

Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books

ISBN: 0-688-12044-X

Pub Date: 1996

My Review:

The Tang Dynasty from 618-907 A.D. was a time when arts and poetry flourished and Tang poems were widely accepted as the best classical poems in China’s literary history. The poems in the Maples in the Mist collection are translations of a few of the well-known Three Hundred Tang poems of the 18th century.

These are exceptionally important to honour as Chinese children have always learned how to read by reading poetry and has been an important literary fabric in the Chinese tradition.

A beautifully translated poem, which is one of my favourites of the collection, is:

Moon

When I was little

I thought the moon was a white jade plate,

Or maybe a mirror in heaven

Flying through the blue clouds.

–        Li Bai

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The illustrative paintings by Jean & Mou-sien Tseng are exquisite and as a collection, heightens the value of this children’s book of classical poetry. The art on its own is sufficient enough reason to purchase this book and add to a personal library, but the poetry is a testament to China’s long-standing literary tradition and easily bridges the old generation with the new, reaching the children, both Chinese and non-Chinese, of today.

Zara’s Rating

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Kites: Magic Wishes that Fly Up to the Sky

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Category: Children’s/China

Author: Demi

Format: Children’s Hardcover, 35 pages

Publisher: Crown Publishers (imprint of Random House)

ISBN: 0-517-80049-7

Pub Date: 1999

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My Review:

Kites by Demi is a wonderfully illustrated children’s book about the history, origins, and symbolism found on Chinese kites and the art of kite flying.

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It includes a detailed description of the various animals and symbols that are found on Asian kites and what they mean in Chinese culture.

Do you know that the Mandarin Duck means nobility, faithfulness, and happiness? Or the Thin Swallow for female loveliness? The Wasp for industry and thrift and the Carp for abundance?

A tree swallow

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These are just a few explanations of the symbolism of animals on Chinese kites.

The book is prettily illustrated and includes a step-by-step instruction guide on how to make your own Chinese kite.

Children of any culture will enjoy learning about the beauty and history of the Asian kite and how to make one on their own. It’s also a great resource for parents and teachers.

Zara’s Rating

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The Empty Pot

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Category: Children’s/China

Author: Demi

Format: Children’s Hardcover, 32 pages

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

ISBN: 0-8050-1217-6

Pub Date: 1990

My Review:

The Empty Pot by Demi is a quiet and lovely story based on Chinese folktale of a boy named Ping who loved to plant flowers. When it was time for the Emperor to choose an heir he decided to give each child in the kingdom a seed to plant and grow and instructed the children that “Whoever can show [him] their best in a year’s time, shall succeed [him] to the throne!”

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It’s a beautifully illustrated and classic story that teaches the importance of hard work and honesty and how doing the right thing can be abundantly repaid.

Zara’s Rating

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To read more posts for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

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What’s one thing you appreciate most about China and the Chinese culture?

If you have children, what’s your favourite DIY project with them?

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My chinese name: Zhenrui

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