人 (Rén / Person) is one of the first Chinese characters that anybody can learn, and the timeless People book by Peter Spier is a wonderful way to introduce children to people worldwide. Here is a quick review of the beautifully illustrated book and low-prep activities that you can do with your child!
人 (People) by Peter Spier
- Author: Peter Spier
- Where to Buy:
- Age: 2-8 years
- Narration: ♫ Listen to 人 being read aloud on Ximalaya! ♫
Quick Book Review
人 (People) is a picture book that was originally published in English and has been translated to simplified and traditional Chinese. We only have the hardcover English version, and I have been translating the words to Mandarin Chinese while reading some parts in English with my children. Although the content contains many encyclopedic facts, the text of the English version is largely written in a conversation manner.
In the 人 (People) picture book, Spier celebrates human-kind and our wonderful diversity. We are similar in many ways, and we are also uniquely different in the way we look, eat, play, speak, and worship.
Both of my children (2.5-year-old son and 5.5-year-old daughter) were captivated by the detailed illustrations. There is so much to discuss on each page, and each read brings about a new discovery.
Photos of 人 (People) by Peter Spier
The book begins with how we all start small despite being different shapes, sizes, and colors.
I love this part: “People are funny: Some with straight hair want theirs to be wavy, and others with little curls want theirs straight.” The subsequent page continues with the truth that beauty standards vary from culture to culture. This was a great opportunity to discuss with my children the importance of respecting different appearances.
We also learned about games that are played in unfamiliar cultures.
And my daughter was excited to learn about Sign Language!
This Peter Spier book even has a page about various written scripts. It was enlightening way for my oldest child to see that her 3 languages are only a few drops in a big bucket! Regarding the image below, I’m unfamiliar with the various Chinese scripts here. However, my daughter was excited that she could read the Korean words!
人 (Rén / Person) Chinese character learning activity
My 2.5-year-old son has learned a dozen or so Chinese characters over the past few months, and he had learned 人 through our Chinese characters magnet puzzle toy. He was curious about the colorful pieces after seeing his big sister have fun building Chinese characters! For this particular character, I made my son laugh while learning by taking the blue and pink 人 pieces and pretending that they were walking!
Suggested teaching materials for the 人 Chinese character:
- Large print out of 人 Chinese character – click here to download
- Chinese characters magnet puzzle toy
- Chinese sandpaper stroke order cards and/or Montessori sandpaper boards
- Small pretend play people figures (eg, Melissa and Doug, Grimms wooden rainbow friends peg dolls, Legos)
Please note that you might not need all of the above if your child remembers the character quickly. However, if you’re child has trouble learning a concept, different hands-on approaches can help facilitate understanding.
Although my son can confidently identify the 人 Chinese character from the 3-dimensional toys, I printed 人 in large, Kaiti font so that he could see that the 2-dimensional print was the same character.
When he saw the large character, the first thing he did was touch it, and he was surprised that it was not rough! He had expected a coarse texture after feeling our Montessori Chinese character sandpaper boards.
The following ideas are activities that my older child always enjoyed: tracing Chinese characters with various objects. However, to keep it real, my son has no interest in this, perhaps due to his young age, or maybe it’s just not his thing. But I want to share these ideas in case it might intrigue your children!
You can lay the pretend play figures on the 人 Chinese character and/or have the figure walk along each stroke. Remember to follow your child’s lead for learning as resistance to paternalistic ideas can spoil golden learning opportunities.
And to keep it real, the following photo shows that my son wanted to immediately build a little house for the people figures! No worries though – he had a lot of fun, remembered the Chinese character, and was so attentive to the Peter Spier book! Yay for learning success!
In summary, I highly recommend the Peter Spier book to accompany a 人 Chinese character lesson! In addition, this is a timeless picture book for your home library!
If you try any of these activities or enjoy the book, please leave a comment with your experience! We love hearing how our suggestions impact families like ours! You can also follow me on Facebook where I share my latest posts as well as favorite articles about children’s education, Chinese resources, and hands-on activities from other websites! In addition, on Instagram, I share activity highlights and how we integrate Chinese-learning in our daily family life!
MORE CHINESE BOOKS FOR KIDS
- Ximalaya FM has thousands of Chinese stories for children for free, and we listen to our favorites almost everyday! Since the entire website and app is in Chinese, please refer to this guide if you cannot read Chinese.
- Here are other Chinese bridge books for budding readers
- Check our all of our favorite Chinese book recommendations for kids! Each week, I will be adding book reviews to this website!
WHERE TO BUY CHINESE BOOKS FOR KIDS
RECOMMENDED ARTICLES ABOUT HOW TO TEACH KIDS CHINESE
- When and How to Introduce Chinese Characters to Kids?
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RECOMMENDED BILINGUAL FACEBOOK PARENTING GROUPS
As always, please let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll try my best to answer them! Please leave a note in the comments! I also highly recommend reaching out to parents in Facebook support groups:
- Montessori-inspired Kids Learning Chinese and English
- Christian Parents Raising Bilingual Children in English & Chinese
- Raising Bilingual Children in Chinese & English