Best Bilingual Chinese Picture Books with Pinyin and English

Best Chinese books with pinyin and English for kids

Are you a parent who is struggling to read Chinese books to your child? Great news: bilingual Chinese picture books with pinyin and English can help you enjoy reading.

Years ago when I was first learning Mandarin as a busy parent, I had no idea where to start. Gradually, we’ve discovered the best beginner bilingual Chinese picture books. Since reading is one of the best ways to teach kids Chinese, I’m excited to share the best books with Pinyin and English with your family.

Ready to build your bilingual home library?

This article was first published in November 2018 and has since been updated with new information. Most of my original recommendatinos are no longer in print. To support authors and keep great resources available, please write reviews for your favorite books and share this post with family, friends, and teachers.

Best bilingual Chinese books with Pinyin and English for kids

Chinese characters with Pinyin in children's books

Our recommended books are perfect for various ages, from babies and toddlers to big kids.

Since Pinyin is the phonetic system used in China and Singapore, most of these books have simplified Chinese characters.

Some of these books are also available in traditional Chinese, the main written language in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

For reference, these Chinese picture books with pinyin are listed in order of increasing difficulty.

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Habbi Habbi Bilingual Chinese books with reading pen

The beautiful Habbi Habbi books were designed to help non-fluent and fluent parents raise bilingual children.

Habbi Habbi Bilingual Mandarin Children's Books with Reading Pen

Each sturdy book covers common topics and high-yield words, like family, healthy habits, and emotions in Chinese.

Beginners can start with books with simple words and phrases. More advanced readers can choose books with sentences and stories.

Kids and caregivers can enjoy listening to native Mandarin narration through a reading pen, too.

Bilingual Mina Learns Chinese books with Pinyin and English

Mina Learns Chinese books for kids

The Mina Learns Chinese series was created to help non-fluent parents read Chinese to their children.

Topics include family, food, shopping, playing in nature, preparing for a baby sibling, gratitude, and more!

Good news: each of the books are available in simplified Chinese AND traditional Chinese! Mandarin and Cantonese narration are available on the author’s website.

Candied Plums Chinese picture books with Pinyin and English

Cute Chinese picture books with Pinyin and English

When my children were toddlers, they loved reading the stories published by Candied Plums over and over again. The watercolor illustrations are adorable, too.

Each book has Pinyin plus full English translations at the back of the book.

Only 1 or 2 lines of text are on each page, making this a great Chinese book for beginners.

Unfortunately, these books are going out-of-print. Try to get them before they are gone!

There’s a Dark, Dark Hole 黑黑洞,有一个洞

In nature, there are dark holes everywhere. What could be in each of these holes? Sometimes ants march out in single file, sometimes crabs crawl out.

The title phrase, 黑黑洞,有一个洞 (Hēi hēidòng, yǒu yīgè dòng), repeats throughout the book, creating a guessing game on each page. This picture book is super fun and engaging for little kids.

Bilingual picture books with Mandarin and Pinyin published by Candied Plums
There’s a Dark, Dark Hole (top); Who Ate My Chestnut (middle), Borrowing a Tail (bottom)

Who Ate My Chestnut? 谁吃了我的毛栗子?

A cute squirrel discovers a big chestnut and hides it in a hole in the ground. Winter comes, and after snow blankets the ground, he cannot find his chestnut.

On each page, he follows footprints to find out who might have eaten his precious chestnut. “谁吃了我的毛栗子? (Shéi chīle wǒ de máo lìzǐ?)” he asks over and over again!

The repetition and suspense on each page help children remember this phrase until the spring season brings a happy surprise.

Borrowing a Tail 借尾巴

A young gecko 壁虎 (bìhǔ) loses his tail from a snake bite. Oh no! Missing his tails, he asks other animals to lend their tails, but they each decline and need their tails to function.

At the end of the story, he tells his mother how he lost his tail. Without realizing it, he had grown his tail back!

Borrowing a Tail 借尾巴 (Jiè wěibā) is one of my son’s absolute favorite Chinese books! It’s so fun to see the tail, guess the animal on the next page, and learn about the amazing ability to regenerate.

Magic Hole Chinese books with Pinyin 奇妙洞洞书

These interactive Chinese books were among the first that I learned to read. I still remember trying to sound out the Pinyin while my toddler poked her fingers through each hole!

The illustrations are simple and bold, and the white background makes the Chinese words easy to read. These books have pinyin but no English.

Note: Some of the Magic Hole books have been published in traditional Chinese with Zhuyin. They are available on

Spark Collection bilingual books with interactive flaps

Spark Collection bilingual books with interactive flaps

This brilliantly designed series features BIG Chinese characters and small yet supportive English and Pinyin translations.

I love the positive role modeling that’s woven into each story.

Plus, kids will get curious about Chinese characters with the interactive flap!

Bilingual Chinese Library Series with Pinyin and English

Simplified Chinese books with Pinyin

The Chinese Library Series was specifically created for overseas learners like our family, and these were some of the first books we read in Chinese.

The series includes anthropomorphic animal stories, realistic stories about family, and famous festivals like Chinese Lunar New Year.

I appreciate the small, light-gray Pinyin is small which helps the black Chinese characters stand out.

In the back of each book, a glossary of key Chinese words are translated with English definitions. There’s also an extended reading section plus a few reading comprehension questions.

My children’s enjoyed most of the animal stories and Chinese festival stories! They weren’t too fond of the family stories, and I felt that those were pretty dull, too.

However, I’ll include the all of the links below if you’re looking for more stories to read while boosting Chinese literacy.

Chinese Library Series beginner books for kids

Where to buy:

Bilingual Shapes Chinese books

My kids LOVE LOVE LOVE the 形状万花筒 Shapes series! It’s listed last due to the advanced language, but these are definitely the most fun and creative stories.

Shapes Chinese Books 形状万花筒 picture books with simplified Chinese, Pinyin, and English

Many of the 形状万花筒 Shapes books are based on classic fables, and all have really cool illustrations based on shapes.

The giant Chinese characters make the books excellent for reading practice.

If you’re not sure about a word, flip to the back for full Pinyin phonetics as well as English translations.

I hope these Chinese pinyin books stay in print forever. The full set includes 3 volumes with the following titles:

Mandarin children's books with large font and phonetic translations

Volume 1 – Friendship and Kindness 友爱互助

ISBN 9789810867812

  • The Grumpy Tree 爱发脾气的大树
  • The Orangutan and the Monkeys 猩猩和猴子
  • The Kangaroo and Wombat 袋鼠和袋熊
  • The Ant and the Chrysalis 蚂蚁和蝶=蛹
  • The Teal Deer 蓝色的小鹿
  • The Lion and the Mouse 狮子和老鼠

Volume 2 – Use Your Intelligence 多动脑筋

ISBN 9789810875695

  • The Fox and the Tiger 狐狸和老鼠
  • The Reflection 水中的倒影
  • The Clever Tortoise 聪明的乌龟
  • The Fox and the Crab 狐狸和螃蟹
  • The Moose and the Fly 驼鹿和苍蝇
  • The Cat and the Mouse 老鼠和猫
Shapes Chinese book English translation

Volume 3 – Look Before You Leap 三思而行

ISBN 9789810875794

  • Barn Mouse and Country Mouse 野鼠和家鼠
  • The Mischievous Tiger 顽皮的小老虎
  • The Playful Flies 贪玩的小苍蝇
  • The Beaver’s Dam 河狸筑坝
  • The Moose and the Fly 三条鲶鱼
  • The Cat and the Mouse 狼来了
Shapes Chinese Books 形状万花筒

What are your favorite bilingual Chinese picture books with Pinyin and English?

If you’ve read any of these books or have other books to recommend, please share in the comments below! Candid reviews are so helpful to the community.


  1. Thank you, This is a great resource to help finding useful books. I just wish my local libraries carried more of them.

    1. So glad to hear that the recommendations are helpful! Depending on where you live, some libraries participate in the interlibrary loan. Consider contacting your local library to see if they can help you borrow bilingual Chinese books from other libraries.

  2. Hi, great recommendations you have there! I wonder if taobao carries them.
    Anyways, how did you make sure that your child learns to recognise the Chinese characters instead of relying on the pinyin provided? Because I remember being very reliant on pinyin when I was younger and never really learnt the characters, hence causing me to only know how to speak but not write haha!

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