Before we went to China, we started purchasing books to read (& to bring, English kids’ books are hard to find — and if you can, they’re expensive in China). I’ve wanted to share this list for a long time.
Picture books: Nonfiction
A Time of Golden Dragons by Song Nan Zhang & Hao Yu Zhang, ill. A picture book about the millennial year coinciding w year of dragon, most powerful sign
Chinese New Year Tricia Brown photogr Fran Ortiz. Preparations for, & meanings of, new year in US Chinatowns. Colorful.
Picture books:Fiction (mostly reinterpreted folkore
Little Plum by Ed Young – a Tom Thumb tale.
All the Way to Lhasa A tale from Tibet by Barbara Helen Berger. We enjoy this.
The Hunter A Chinese folktale retold by Mary Casanova Illustrations Ed Young. Love folk tales.
The Beggar’s Magic A Chinese Tale retold by Margaret & Raymond Chang Ill David Johnson
Red Thread written/ill Ed Young.Great one.
The Magic Horse of Han Gan by Chen Jiang Hong. An animal tires of war. A favorite.
Lon Po Po A Red-Riding Hood Story from China (Caldecott medal) Ed Young. Another enjoyable one.
The Terrible Nung Gwama A Chinese folktale adapted by Ed Young from the retelling by Leslie Bonnet Ill Ed Young.
A Jewish Girl in Shanghai by Wu Lin We got this graphic novel in China, at the synagogue-museum in Shanghai. (Speakign of graphic novels: highly recommend the award-winning American-Born Chinese, which takes place in America; we read it later). A great book.
Shen and the Treasure Fleet Ray Conlogue. Kind of slow.
The Golden Key (Tangshan Tigers) Dan Lee. I think an Australian series. Not bad.
Young Adult Fiction
Spilled Water by Sally Grindley–Modern Yong Adult fiction, girl indentured, compares t Hunger Games. Enjoyed this. I think you can call it middle grades.
Year of the Tiger by Alison Lloyd– historical adventure like Percy Jackson. Really loved this. I actually would call this middle-grades.
Dragon Horse Peter Ward, 10th century China fantasy & adventure, catalog compares to Eragon. We found it slow and decided not to continue. Too many time, place- and flashbacks to ancient times, or myth, too soon.
Golden Rat Don Wulffson- Young Adult, dark adventure.
Dragonwings Laurence Yep*- Boys’ historical adventure like Percy Jackson. Part of Yep’s wrote adventure series, Golden Mountain Chronicles. The best. We couldn’t put them down. Set in America, mostly.
Memoir & Nonfiction
Brothers: A Novel Da Chen — Moving.
Colors of the Mountain Da Chen – award-winning memoir. Moving and lovely writing. More so-called “scar literature” which some Chinese today find unbalanced and overly negative. We found it useful to understand earlier generations’ experience, even if it’s not what’s happening right now.
Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution Ji-Li Jiang.My middle schooler read this. I’d say it’s appropriate for middle grades. Excellent, searing, unforegettable “scar” literature about the damaging experience of growing up during the Cultural Revolution.
Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party Ying Chang Compestine, modern young adult set in 1972, teen & Maoism, Cultural Revolution. Everythign I said above. Hard to put down.
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff: both kids (middle grades) read it & really enjoyed it. Very simply written even though it’s an adult book on a complex topic.