August is back-to-school month around here! Although my 4.5-year-old daughter will continue to attend school part-time, she is very excited about starting with a new class! However, kids are often apprehensive about meeting new teachers and classmates. Parents might be nervous about being apart from their kids at school! For children who are advancing grades, it can take time to adjust to a different classroom and routine.
Reading picture books about school is a wonderful way to discuss the various feelings triggered by the new school year. Through stories, kids can learn common experiences and discuss how to manage anticipated concerns. Although my daughter is attending a monolingual English school, I bought Chinese picture books so we could learn how to discuss it in our minority language. I’m excited to share four books about school that my daughter likes! These books are best for children ages 3-7. In order of reading difficulty, they are as follows:
- 妈妈, 今天是我第一天上学! (Mom, Today is My First Day of Kindergarten!)
- 我上小学了 (I’m Going to School)
- 汤姆上幼儿园 (Tom Goes to Kindergarten)
- 我要上学啦! (Starting School)
Each book is available in simplified Chinese; some are also available in traditional Chinese and English! At the end of the post, I have included a few books on our wish list and also books about school that we don’t like!
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妈妈, 今天是我第一天上学! (Mom, Today is My First Day of Kindergarten!)
Author: Hyewon Yum
Where to buy:
- Simplified Chinese / ISBN: 9787550236523
- Traditional Chinese / ISBN: 9787550236523
- English version / ISBN: 9780374350048
This picture book explores common feelings of separation anxiety with the first day of school. My first impression of this book was “Uhh, that’s weird. Why is the mom so tiny and blue in many parts of the book?” But then I realized that her appearance was an artistic reflection of nervous maternal emotions send her child off to Kindergarten for the first time. As I read this book with my daughter, I was glad that I got it. Most books about school entry focus on the child’s anxiety while overlooking the parents emotions. However, our kids are often brave and ready for new adventures while the parents are afraid of change.
In the beginning of this story, the boy wakes up his mom to tell her that he has already packed his bookbag for school! Throughout the book, you see him reassuring her, and her appearance becomes normal as she becomes comfortable with sending him to school. You can really sense the love that the mother has for her child!
As a non-fluent Chinese family, this book was fairly easy to read. Few words in this book were new to us. I appreciated that the text was generally on a white background and in normal font.
我上小学了 (I’m Going to School)
Where to buy:
- Simplified Chinese / ISBN: 9787505632882
- Traditional Chinese / ISBN: 9787505632882
Originally written in Japanese, this translated book is a funny and interactive introduction to school! Here are some cute, hands-on ways this book involves the child:
- When the book introduces the principal, the following page shows different pictures of the principal. child is supposed to choose which one looks like the actual principal, and they mix in silly pictures of a gentleman with cat ears, pig nose, and other changes!
- One two pages, different versions the same classroom are shown for the child to point out what is different and same about each room.
- Another section has a maze where the child follows the correct Pinyin to find the finish line!
- Last 2 pages has answers to the prior activities!
The text is a bit longer than the prior book, 今天是我第一天上学, but my daughter and I are able to read most of the words without checking the dictionary.
汤姆上幼儿园 (Tom Goes to Kindergarten)
Author: Marie-Aline Bawin
Where to buy:
汤姆上幼儿园 (Tom Goes to Kindergarten) is part of the 小兔汤姆系列绘本 series that we love. This is a well written anthropomorphic series (originally written in French) with beautiful illustrations and relatable stories about day-to-day life as well as important life events. In this story, Tom is very nervous about attending his first day of school. But then he ends up having a wonderful experience with his new teacher and friends! Each page has only a couple lines of Chinese text.
我要上学啦! (Starting School)
Author: Jane Godwin
Simplified Chinese / ISBN: 9787549573394
English / ISBN:
This lovely book about the experiences and feelings of 5 very different kids as they start school for the first time. Originally written by an Australian author, the realistic dialogue and beautifully detailed illustrations help children navigate their feelings of this big milestone. My daughter first noticed that the kids in this book wear uniforms, and the book reviews common school supplies and typical classes in school. The downside of this book is that there are a lot of English names in the book; we had to look up many of the the translations in our dictionary.
Other books about school on our wish list:
I will update this post in the future after we receive those books!
Books that we don’t like:
The David series is popular children’s book series in English that has been translated to Chinese. These books (here, here, and here) were among the first books that we read in Chinese, but my daughter did not like it at all. The cartoonish illustrations were neither attractive nor relatable to her. Since I am learning how to read Chinese with my kids, I was most bothered by the difficult to read cartoonish font. However, I just wanted to mention them since they are fairly well known and maybe your child is interested in these types of books.
For more Chinese book recommendations for kids, please visit and bookmark this link of our favorite books! Every week, I will be adding book reviews to this website!
If you’re wondering where to buy Chinese books for children, please click here for a list of the most popular online bookstores!
To shop low book prices on TaoBao, here is the How-To Guide for using TaobaoRing.
If you need tips on how to teach your child Chinese, these posts are for you!
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- How To Get Your Child To Speak the Minority Language
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent
- 10 Ways to Get Your Child to Read Throughout the Day
- 6 Fun Ways to Assess Reading Comprehension With Kids!
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As always, please leave a comment with any questions, and I’ll try my best to answer them! Or better yet, please join our Facebook group! Montessori-inspired Kids Learning Chinese and English is a community of parents worldwide who are excited to share bilingual book recommendations, Montessori tips, and learning materials!
Happy reading, friends!