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Bilingual Chinese Books that teach Kindness and Peace to Inspire Children

In recognition of World Mental Health Day, for the month of October I am sharing a weekly post relating to Chinese books which we can enjoy with our children, to improve their mental health and resilience. 

This week’s post is about Kindness and Peace-making books.

Last week I wrote a post on books to read about Feelings and Emotions. My next post will be on Growth Mindsets.

Thankfully, there are SO many great books on these topics, that it’s difficult to choose our favourites – but here are the top 8 from our bookshelf relating to Kindness, Peace and Unity.

Why is it important to read books which teach about kindness and peace-making?

One of my favourite quotes of all time is: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind”.

Kindness – the quality of being warm-hearted and considerate – is an important character trait for children to understand and develop.  It has been scientifically proven that there are many benefits to being compassionate and empathetic. Moreover, it’s contagious! 

Some concepts are really hard to teach, especially when it comes to social/emotional areas.  As a mother, I love using books as character trait conversation starters.  The picture books selected in this post teach children about kindness through a variety of approaches – such as stories, poems, use of metaphors, or profiling peacemakers.  These books provide lots of opportunities to talk about what being kind is about, and hopefully build an early foundation to instil and inspire empathy.

I feel these are the types of book that we need to be reading TOGETHER with our kids, no matter what our language ability.   A story creates a safe space for the discussions and conversations about what our children are seeing, hearing, thinking and feeling – and opportunities for practice.   Coincidentally I also noticed that all the books we’d shortlisted for this post are American books, translated into Chinese – so there are plenty of options to read in either Chinese or English.

Most of these books also have an audio option to listen to them in either language, through Luka the Robot Reading Companion or use of reading pens. One tip if reading these books as a non-Chinese speaking parent with an older children would be for the adult to read the English, and then see how many of the Chinese characters the child can understand. 

I feel that it’s important to cultivate a habit of kindness in our homes, and raise happier kids, and a more peaceful world.  

The shortlisted 8 books are:

So here’s to peace, good reading, and good Chinese!

最棒的礼物 Peace Is An Offering

Author: Annette LeBox
Translated by:  林芳萍
Country of original publication: U.S.A
Language: Simplified Chinese
~ Pages: 40
~ Lines per page: 1-2
~Pinyin: No
~ Audio available: No
~ In Singapore NLB: Yes (English version only)

This is a comforting poem, which simply and beautifully illustrates how we can share peace with one another.   A diverse group of children are able to find peace in everyday things, from warm sunlight though to sharing cookies.   Little readers are taken on journey to discover how simple small acts can bring peace to an individual.  Peace can be shared such as through an invitation to a party, or giving a muffin, a hot meal, or wiping someone’s tears.   It’s a lovely list of peaceful ideas, and a great reminder that peace is all around us in very accessible ways, if we chose to see it or create it.  This book is timely reminder to take delight in the small things!

爱心树 The Giving Tree

Author: Shel Silverstein
Translated by: 傅惟慈
Country of original publication: U.S.A
Language: Simplified Chinese
~ Pages: 64
~ Lines per page: 1-17
~Pinyin: No
~ Audio available: Luka compatible and Ximalaya
~ In Singapore NLB: Yes (English and Mandarin versions)

This is a classic story form 1960s of kindness, generosity and friendship.  It’s a simple, but beautifully written story, which my kids ask for it over and over again.  A simple narrative, with black and white line drawings, which tugs at the heart strings.  There was once an apple tree, and she loved a little boy – he would come to her to eat her fruit and swing from her branches. The selfless tree shares kindness and gifts with a boy as he grows old, generously, and gives until she has nothing more to give.  It’s a parable of unconditional love. For me, it also speaks to the consequences of when we fail to mutually care for one another, or take a friend for granted, despite our best intentions.

I know this is a controversial book – and many hate it.  I did happen to see a more modern alternate ‘ending’ to the story, which is an interesting spin, and perhaps a good conversation starter for older children.

 和平书 The Peace Book 

Author: Todd Parr
Country of original publication: U.S.A
Language: Simplified Chinese & English (Bilingual)
~ Pages: 30
~ Lines per page: 1-2
~Pinyin: No
~ Audio available: Luka compatible (in Chinese & English)
~ In Singapore NLB: Yes, but only in English (although Luka will read this in Chinese)

In Todd Parr’s trademark cheerful style with bold pictures, this book defines the meaning of peace for young children.   Through simple prose, peace is explained in terms of helping a neighbour, offering a hug to a friend, keeping streets clean.  The books turns an immaterial concept into concrete examples of peacefulness which children can emulate.   The book will give you a big laugh (“peace is having enough pizza in the world for everyone”), and leave you with a warm heart.  The concluding message of hope is that “peace is being who you are”.   

你的水桶有多满 How full is your bucket?

Author: Tom Rath
Country of original publication: U.S.A
Language: Simplified Chinese
~ Pages: 30
~ Lines per page: 1-4
~Pinyin: No
~ Audio available: Ximalaya
~ In Singapore NLB: Yes (in both English and Mandarin)

This books simplifies the well known “Bucket of Happiness” concept into something simple for children.  We only have the English version of this book, however our Luka reads this version in either Chinese or English.

The concept is that everyone has an “invisible bucket”, which is used to hold good thoughts and feelings.  When you do something kind, you help to fill someone else’s bucket as well as you own.    Through this visual representation of “kindness”, we can  understand how words and actions make others feel, and aim to fill our imaginary buckets every day with positive words and actions, and not to let it spill with hurtful things.  It’s simple, and teaches kind words, sharing, and respect.  Let’s all be bucket-fillers.

There is another very similar book “Have you filled a bucket today?”你把水桶加满了吗? by Carol McCloud translated by 张宏武, also with Chinese and English audio through Luka.

我 很友善 I am Kind

Author:  Habbi Habbi
Country of original publication: U.S.A
Language: Simplified Chinese-English (Bilingual) or English-Spanish
~ Pages: 10
~ Lines per page: 4
~Pinyin: Yes
~ Audio available: yes, through Habbi Habbi Reading Wand
~ In Singapore NLB: No

This is a simple board book which shares short relatable situations which illustrate acts of kindness.  This includes welcoming a new child to class, donating money to charity, visiting a sick grandparent, forgiving a bully, and sharing our favourite things.  These are powerful examples of kindness, that encourage kids to consider the needs of others. 

Habbi Habbi are unique bilingual board books, well suited to toddlers and also beginning Mandarin readers.  As with all the Habbi Habbi collection, I am Kind book celebrates values such as diversity and inclusion, comfort with emotional expression, self-confidence and worthiness, resilience, and empathy.  This can be seen through the illustrations – which show diversity of faces and races – and the very intentional choice of words in their phrases.

I’ve reviewed Habbi Habbi in detail in an early post here. This is a wonderful set for a toddler to learn through play, and use the Reading Wand for audio.

鸽子捡到一个热狗!The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!

Author: Mo Willems,
Country of original publication: U.S.A 
Language: Simplified Chinese
Pages: 34
Lines per page: 0-3
Pinyin: No
Audio available:  
Luka compatible (English only) and plenty of Ximalaya readings in Mandarin
~ In Singapore NLB: Yes (in English and Mandarin)

This is a book from the super-funny 6 book series  淘气小鸽子 The Pigeon, by acclaimed prize-winning author Mo Willems.  Mo Willems books in general are great for digging deeper into emotions – and this set in particular is excellent, as in the text size, font and colour, you can see the character’s surprisingly realistic emotions.  In fact, pages contain nothing more than a simple hand drawn pigeon, duck, and this oversized text.

When the infamous Pigeon finds a delicious hot dog, he wants to shove the whole thing into his beak.  However, a shrewd and hungry duckling also wants a bite.   I thought twice about whether to include this one or not – as I do feel the duckling was rather unfair to Pigeon, and I don’t like the concept of a child having to share, just because someone else wants what they rightfully have.  However, I decided to include it, as it’s a situation that many a child will face.  Pigeon understandably loses his temper, and wrestles with this minor moral dilemma – to share, or not to share.  Ultimately, we see the two birds happily sharing Pigeon’s prized processed-food possession.

要不要分享冰激凌?Should I Share My Ice Cream? 

Author: Mo Willems, 戴永翔 (translator)  
Country of original publication: U.S.A 
Language: Simplified Chinese
Pages: 57
Lines per page: 0-3
Books in the series: 17
Pinyin: No
Audio available:  
Luka compatible and plenty of Ximalaya readings
~ In Singapore NLB: Yes (in English and Mandarin)

Sometimes making the choice to be kind is not an easy one, and I feel its important to read books which acknowledge this.  You can’t go wrong with this book from the Elephant and Piggie series, also by Mo Willems.

Elephant and Piggie is one hilarious book set, with many great titles focussing on feelings and kindness.   Gerald is a caring and careful elephant. Piggie is a joyful but not-so-careful pig. Piggie cannot help smiling; Gerald worries a lot.

In this book, Gerald has a big decision to make – but will he make it in time.  For my kids, sometimes the decision to be kind doesn’t get more difficult than deciding whether to share your lollies or ice cream with a friend.  My favourite line in “Should I share my icecream” is when Gerald rationalises his decision to not share: “Sharing a flavour Piggie does not like would be wrong.”  This story is about the challenges of doing the right thing, and making things right.

我会关心别人 When I Care for Others

Author:  Cornelia Maude Spelman
Country of original publication: U.S.A
Language: Simplified Chinese & English (Bilingual)
~ Pages: 26
~ Lines per page: 1- 4
~Pinyin: No
~ Audio available: Luka compatible (in Chinese & English), and Ximalaya
~ In Singapore NLB:  Yes, in both English and Bilingual-Chinese version

This book is part of the ‘My Feelings’ 8 book set, which assists children in understanding and describing their feelings.  Indeed, their author is herself a social worker. It isn’t so much of a story, as a self-help book for kids which provides relevant examples of what it feels like to care for others.  The accompanying illustrations are simple and sweet, showing an empathetic cat and bear in various situations.

The full books in this series are:

《我好害怕》When I Feel Scared
《我好难过》When I Feel Sad
《我觉得自己很棒》When I Feel Good About Myself
《我会关心别人》When I Care for Others
《我好嫉妒》When I Feel Jealous
《我好生气》When I Feel Angry
《我想念你》When I Miss You
《我好担心》When I Feel Worried

Where to buy great Chinese children’s books?

This post is not intended as an advertorial, however readers tend to ask me where I got our books from.  So here are some leads, hopefully with the most cost competitive options (if you have better suggestions, please let me know!):

In Singapore: Most of the titles listed in this post are available from My Story Treasury (online) if you’re looking for a one-stop solution. My Story Treasury is a lovingly curated collection of Chinese picture story books for kids.  Remember my blog readers have a 10% discount if you use “LahLahBanana10” at checkout from their store. There are several other fantastic children’s bookstores in Singapore too who stock some of these books.  Buying local is totally the best. 

In Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Singapore:  Most of the titles are available through Luka Reads (online).  Luka Reads is the official retailer of Luka the Reading Robot in Australia, and they also stock great books which are Luka compatible.  If you use “LahLah20Off”, you’ll receive a $20 discount.

In United Kingdom / Europe:  De Ziremi is a new online bookstore for Chinese literature for children.  Their collection is growing daily, and they’re hoping to stock some of the titles in this post.  They also have several other interesting books on generosity (such as Max Lucado’s All You Ever Need你所需要的). If you quote “LAHLAHSPECIAL” on checkout for anything from their store, my blog readers will receive 10% off. This is a really kind gesture from the four sister team behind De Ziremi.

On Taobao – if you really must do this option, look at the end of my Taobao post for recommended bookstores through Taobao’s TMall. We have bought some great books from Taobao, but we’ve also bought some disasters!

8 books for children on peace, kindness and unity with Chinese and English translations

Take care of your own mental wellbeing!

I hope you and your family will spend some time this month reflecting on emotional resilience, and building this into your bilingual journey.

As you read and enjoy these books together, remember to talk about how the characters in the story spread kindness and peace, and identify practical ways to cultivate this into your personal lives.   

I’d love to hear from you if you have other suggestions on bilingual books on feelings and emotions which your family has enjoyed, or comments you may have on the topic.

DISCLOSURE: I am grateful to My Story Treasury in Singapore for giving our family four of the eight books reviewed in this post (Peace is an Offering, The Giving Tree, The Peace Book, and When I Care About Others). 

Please know that I only recommend learning resources on this blog which our family believes are genuinely helpful….. there’s no affiliation, commissions, or money being made here at all! It’s simply the passion of sharing!

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