Rhythm and Tones: Inventive Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese

Rhythm and Tones: Inventive Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese is one of my absolute favorite resources for families who are learning to speak Mandarin Chinese as a second language.  The series includes two books with English, Simplified Chinese, and Hanyu Pinyin.

If your family is learning traditional Chinese, I think the books are worth getting for the CDs which have catchy chants and songs in Chinese.

Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese

This detailed review explains how we benefited from the books with many sample pictures. ISBN and shopping links are at the end of the post.

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Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese Video Review

In this video, I give an overview of the Chinese learning series!  However, keep scrolling if you prefer to read about the books!

Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese Overview

Rhythm and Tones is a series that introduces Chinese language in a fun and interactive way!  Families with no Chinese background may find this a useful first resource for Chinese learning, and fluent families may find benefit from the engaging nature of the books and CDs.

The topics and conversations are highly relevant to daily life; the red book (Rhythm and Tones 1) is appropriate for all ages, while the blue book (Rhythm and Tones 2) is geared for middle and high school students. 

Compared to most Chinese beginner resources that teach vocabulary as isolated words on flashcards, these books always feature new words in sentences, chants, and songs.  In each lesson, reality-based, colored illustrations with diverse characters provide context to the vocabulary.

In order to use the book, you should be able to read Hanyu Pinyin or review the book with a fluent Chinese speaker.  While the book is not intended to teach how to read Chinese characters, it is very useful for improving listening and spoken Chinese language skills.

Red Book

The red book teaches the four tones of Mandarin Chinese as well as greetings, families, nature, sports, food, animals, clothing, and manners.  In addition, this book also discusses important Chinese cultural traditions: Chinese New Year and Mid Autumn Festival.

The real star, however, is the CD with catchy chants and music.  Both of my children, ages 2, and 5, absolutely love the CD!  Last year for Chinese New Year, our Chinese teacher had all of her students sing two songs:  太阳在哪里? and 新年到了!  The other students ranged from age 4 to 16, and all children enjoyed these songs!

Blue Book

On the other hand, the blue book talks about school and adolescent life.  Since these topics are not yet relevant for our family, we only explored a few pages, after which my kids asked to return to the red book!  While this book also includes a CD, I do not think the chants and songs are quote as catchy and smooth as the red books’ CD.

Other things you should know about the series

  • Layout of the English, Simplified Chinese, and Pinyin text is somewhat disorganized visually.  While the book does have a systematic order of topic introduction, there is no separation of text and illustrations, resulting in the eye to move all over the place.  I hope future editions will consider separating illustrations and text on separate pages.
  • The end of the book has sheet music for songs in the CD
  • Both CDs have tracks with and without lyrics (sample recordings below)
Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese

Rhythm and Tones 1: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese

Here’s a peak at the inside of the blue book!

Sample audio tracks from the CD are from China Sprout:

Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese

The end of the book has sheet music for some of the songs in the book!

Rhythm and Tones 2: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese

Here’s a peak at the inside of the blue book!

Sample audio tracks from the CD are from China Sprout:

Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese

Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese

  • Title: Rhythm and Tones: Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
  • Author: Pauline Huang, Robin Harvey
  • Publisher: China Sprout
  • Language: English, Simplified Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin
  • Audio: CD (Mandarin Chinese)
  • Where to buy:

In summary, I highly recommend Rhythm and Tones: Inventive Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese!

At the very least, I would suggest getting the red (Rhythm and Tones 1) book!

What are you other favorite resources for beginner Chinese learners? 

Please share in the comments below!

Tips for boosting Chinese skills

Happy learning and singing, friends!

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