Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chinese Language Children's Books

Recently, I was presented with two wonderful opportunities to stock up on Chinese language children's story-books: the Hong Kong International Book Fair and my recent visit to Taipei.

Having lived in Hong Kong for more than a decade, I'm surprised that I had never attended the Book Fair. My last place of employment before I became a full-time mother was located across the street from the Convention Centre where the Book Fair is held every July. And I remember seeing the unbelievable pedestrian traffic when heading into and out of the office during those days of the Book Fair, and being amazed and proud that there were that many book-lovers in Hong Kong!

This year, I went to the Book Fair for the sole purpose of finding good books for my daughters. I was joined by my mommy friend who at the last minute scored us VIP passes so that we could bypass the queues. We each had an empty rolling carry-on luggage... we were prepared!

As a general rule, I only buy story-books rather than teaching books, i.e. learning to count, phonics, vocabulary builders. I want my children's imagination to be ignited when visiting all the different worlds in story-books, and hope that they view books as fun rather than study.

It was no surprise to find many booths at the fair to be focused on teaching books because after all, Hong Kong is the capital of over-scheduled formally educated toddlers. I compromised and bought a number of books that taught social skills and life experiences through stories: being polite, going on vacation, visiting the dentist. I was also happy to find a number of Chinese translations of story-books which we already have, such as:

When I'm Feeling Angry
I now have the whole set in English and Chinese

Little Miss Boxed Set (Little Miss)
I'm not a big fan of this series, but my older daughter really enjoys the stories. I have random English stories and at the Book Fair purchased a set of 20 Chinese titles.

In Taipei at the end of July, I enjoyed browsing through my favorite bookstore Eslite. A decade ago, I enjoyed the small Eslite across from The Sherwood, my favorite boutique hotel for business travelers; the bookstore even included a wine-shop. And in recent years, I have been going to the 5-storey Eslite store across from Le Meridien, the hotel we stayed at during this latest visit.

I returned to Hong Kong with another rolling carry-on luggage filled with books. Interestingly, I found some good English-language books, including:

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink
Not the best in terms of rhymes and rhythm, but my daughter and I really enjoyed seeing princesses in regular play clothes while engaged in gender-neutral activities

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