April 23rd is World Book Day. On this day 406 years ago, two of the world’s great literary figures, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and William Shakespeare, passed away. Thus, it was a natural choice for the United Nations General Assembly to pay a worldwide tribute to books and their authors on April 23rd. This is to encourage everyone, especially young people, to discover the joy of reading and to gain a new respect for those who have contributed to the social and cultural development of humanity.
On this great day that celebrates and proclaims the human book business, I will introduce you to 4 Chinese books for kids & teens to read for leisure as well as to enhance their Chinese Language skills.
Méi tóu nǎo hé bú gāo xìng
1. 没 头 脑 和 不 高 兴 – Scatterbrain and Crosspatch
This book is about two kids with different shortcomings. One kid is careless and the other always does things in his own way, therefore people call them separately “the careless kid” and “the unhappy kid”. When they grow up, “the careless kid” becomes an engineer, and “the unhappy kid” goes to be an actor. Unfortunately, they have not overcome their weakness, which have caused many problems in their work. The meaning of this book is to tell kids not to be like the men of Scatterbrain and Crosspatch and that they need to try hard to overcome their shortcomings in order to have a bright future.
And kids can learn many Chinese sentences from it. For example:
Méi tóu nǎo hé bù ɡāo xìnɡ jiù shì yí duì ér huó bǎo!
没 头 脑 和 不 高 兴 就 是 一 对 儿 活 宝！
Scatterbrain and Crosspatch are a bit like two clowns!
Tā men chī le kǔ tóu, zhōnɡ yú rèn shí le zì jǐ de quē diǎn, bìnɡ jué xīn ɡǎi zhènɡ.
他 们 吃 了 苦 头， 终 于 认 识 了自己 的 缺 点， 并 决 心 改 正。
They suffered and finally recognized their shortcomings and resolved to correct them.
Shí dà chénɡ yǔ ɡù shì
2. 十 大 成 语 故 事 – Top 10 Chinese Idioms with Origin Stories
Chinese is a language rich in idioms, owing to its ancient history. Many of them have survived to this day, lucky for us, as they’re full of sound advice that’s guided people for ages. This book collected ten famous idioms into a FREE e-book and broken them down into English and Chinese so you’ll better understand the content. Even better, for the first time, it also has recorded audio for each of the idiom stories. Along with vocabulary and grammar, it will show you how to make sense of the pronunciation as well.
Ài wū jí wū
爱 屋 及乌
Love me, Love my dog
Nǐ ài nǐ de mèi mèi, yě ɡāi ài wū jí wū, xǐ huān tā de pénɡ yǒu cái hǎo!
你爱你 的 妹 妹，也 该 爱屋及 乌，喜 欢 她 的 朋 友 才 好！
Love me, love my dog. If you love your sister, you should also like her friends.
Sān zì jīnɡ
3. 三 字 经 – Three Character Classic
Among the ancient Chinese classics, the Three Character Classic is one of the easiest to understand. It is a model, including literature, history, philosophy, astronomy, geography, human ethics, loyalty, filial piety, and justice of traditional Chinese culture. While reading the Three Character Classic, the kids will learn about general knowledge, traditional Chinese studies, and historical stories, as well as the principles of being a human being within the stories.
Rén zhī chū, xìnɡ běn shàn.
人 之 初， 性 本 善。
Man on earth, Good at birth.
Xìnɡ xiānɡ jìn, xí xiānɡ yuǎn.
性 相 近，习 相 远。
The same nature, varies on nurture.
Sān ɡuó yǎn yì
４. 三 国 演 义 – Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Romance of the Three Kingdoms describes the nearly 100-year historical situation from the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty to the early years of the Western Jin Dynasty. It mainly describes the war and tells the melee of the separatist forces in the last year of the Eastern Han Dynasty and the political and military struggles between the three kingdoms of Wei, Shu, and Wu. In the end, Sima Yan unified the Three Kingdoms and established the Jin Dynasty. It reflects the transformation of various social struggles and contradictions in the Three Kingdoms era, and summarizes the great historical changes of this era, creating a group of heroes of the Three Kingdoms. Everyone can learn a lot from these heroes.
There are several examples of brilliant sentences from this book:
Shì dānɡ jué ér bù jué zhě, yú rén yě.
事 当 决 而 不 决 者，愚 人 也。
Those who do not decide when things should be decided are fools.
Zhì dānɡ cún ɡāo yuǎn.
志 当 存 高 远。
Ambition and loftiness.
Zhànɡ fū zhì sì hǎi, wàn lǐ yóu bǐ lín.
丈 夫 志 四 海，万 里 犹 比 邻。
Aspiring people are all over the world, even if they are thousands of miles apart, they can still communicate with each other mentally.
(The physical or digital versions of these books are available on Amazon and eChineseLearning.)
There is an old saying that goes: “ 一日无书，百事荒芜。(Yí rì wú shū, bǎi shì huānɡ wú.) ” The meaning is “Reading should be persistent and should not be interrupted for any single day.” One should never stop reading even in old age. It is important, especially for children, to develop a habit of enjoying reading. A great book may set kids free from all kinds of electronics.