Hello, friends! I’m posting about our recent visit to Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood over on Well Traveled Kids today. Check out that post for our experiences and a suggested itinerary for a family trip there. (Welcome, if you’ve hopped over from that site! We’re glad you stopped by!) We’re very lucky to have met several families this school year with adopted children from China. Our trip to visit Chinatown was actually inspired by one of the moms I know who told me she takes her daughters there frequently. It seems crazy that I’ve never visited Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, but, indeed, I had not. So we cooked up a scheme with some families to visit one weekend. The trip details are all over at the Well Traveled Kids site.
However, after we returned from our visit, I found myself wondering what books and resources would be interesting for my kids to read and maybe help them soak in a bit more about Chinese culture. I don’t know about you, but there’s a small window of time after a visit somewhere when the kids are dying to know more. So often I find myself without much to go on… but this time I had an ace in my pocket. Enter Maia.
As I mentioned before, our lives have been changed for the better this year because we’ve built relationships with lots of new families. A family who helped organize our visit to Chinatown has three adopted Chinese daughters, Maia (age 12), Maddie and Meili (both age 6). When I started wondering what books I could perhaps read with my kids, I realized I was going to have go to the boss… I called Maia.
Here are the recommendations on some favorite books from Maia and her sisters. There is a world of literature out there that would be fun to explore, so consider this a starting point.
Fiction – Grades 3 and up Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. The story of a girl named Minli who lives with her poor family near Fruitless Mountain. Minli is entertained and inspired by her father’s wonderful stories. With the help of a dragon and other fantastic creatures, she heads on an amazing journey to change her family’s fortune.
Dumpling Days by Grace Lin. This book tells the story of a young girl named Pacy and her family’s month-long visit to her parent’s homeland of Taiwan. She doesn’t speak the language nor understand the customs in Taiwan. It’s a challenging adjustment, as she navigates feeling out of place in both worlds, but she learns to appreciate and love her homeland also. The sweet book is interspersed with Chinese stories and folk tales. This is one of several books by the author featuring this same main character Pacy Lin.
Read Aloud or 2nd Grade and under The Seven Chinese Sisters by Kathy Tucker. The story of seven sisters, each with a special talent like karate or cooking or counting, who must face a dragon who has kidnapped the littlest sister. A good tale about using your wits and teamwork to face a challenge. There is also a Seven Chinese Brothers book by a different author, but same idea.
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin. A beautiful picture book that follows a family as it prepares for Chinese New Year. Symbols, food, and customs are explained, as the bad luck from the previous year is swept away and the new year is welcomed in.
I LOVE YOU like Crazy Cakes by Rose Lewis. If you don’t cry while reading this book, your heart is made of stone. It’s written from the perspective of an American mother writing the story of how an adopted Chinese baby girl came to be her own. Helps provide good language for discussing the process of Chinese adoption.
Do you have any other resources to share? Please put more suggestions in the comments box. Happy Reading!