Great Chinese Cartoons for Children to enjoy

Series originally written in Chinese (not dubbed)

This posts summarises our favourite animated series from YouTube in Mandarin, for children.  These are series which are all originally written in Chinese (i.e not translated from US), and have an subtle educational focus, relevant for aged 4 to 10. 

After my last post about non-animated television series for children in Chinese, a few readers asked about a list of resources for Chinese cartoons (aka 弟子規動畫卡通).   For non-native Chinese families like ours, television has been a key part in our journey to provide exposure to the spoken language, and serves as a good motivation for them to want to understand the language, and can be educational too. 

Whilst there are plenty of options to have Chinese audio on many Western cartoons (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Starhub, Disney Channel, etc), this list focuses exclusively on shows written in Chinese, which originate from China/Taiwan/Malaysia.  I favour this, as they tend to contain more Asian cultural context, and importantly, teach things like idioms, which are important for a child learning Chinese to understand.     Even elements like the landscapes or oriental soundtracks are a helpful touch to appreciating the beauty of the Chinese culture.

I’ve literally spent years looking for accessible content, and below are our best finds.  These are all appropriate for pre-schoolers, and whilst nascent learners may not understand everything, I found this an effective way for my children to increase their exposure to Chinese audio in the home. Non-animated shows have certainly been the most effective, but animations can be fun too.

The shows are divided broadly into topics of:

  1. Cartoons with slower/simpler dialogues for non-native speakers
  2. Cartoons featuring Chinese Culture
  3. Basic literacy
  4. Life skills
  5. Idioms

Please note: the links below are to Youtube content.  Youtube may contain advertisements (unless you pay to subscribe to the full Youtube app, or you have a good net nanny app).  Not all advertisements on Youtube are family friendly, so I would recommend using them with care, and putting appropriate filters on the access the children have.

Simpler and Slower Chinese Cartoons for non-native speakers

 Xi Yang Yang 喜羊羊与灰太狼

The Xi Yang Yang Chinese animated cartoon series is actually available free to air in Singapore, which is how we got started watching it.  The plot revolves around a group of goats who are continually threatened by a big, bad, clumsy wolf.  The show has been running since 2005, and rates as one of China’s most popular and lucrative cartoons.

Target age: 4 – 8

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • Repetitive words, which is helpful for beginners
  • There are also other spinoffs (like a movie, books, etc) if children really like this show.
  • For some reason, this show is a real favourite in our household

Big Ear TuTu

Big Ear Tutu cartoon is designed for pre-schoolers in China (although my daughter was shown it first by her P2 Primary teacher), and features lots of silliness.  The story revolves around a curious young lad who asks a lot of questions, and his parents give him lots of opportunities to nurture his curiosity.

Target age: 4 – 8

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • Short: only 12-minutes
  • Relevant to a child; each episode revolves around Hu TuTu, in situation a child can relate to like making new friends in school, and the family coping when Tu Tu’s mum goes back to work.  Large doses of humour included.

The Adventures of Little Carp小鲤鱼历险记

The Adventures of Little Carp is a show about the misadventures of a baby fish – it’s a little like Finding Nemo.  The cartoon has lovely graphics of the ocean and sealife.

Target age: 5 – 10

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • This uplifting story is about resilient and positivity, based on a Chinese folktale (called “Carp jumps over the dragon gate”) with a fantastic musical backing
  • There are 52 episodes, so it will keep your child entertained for a very long time!

Google for the show, I’m unable to link it here

Little Fox

Many parents rave about Little Fox, which has a seemingly endless collection of animated stories and songs in Chinese. 

Target age: 3- 6

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • So much content, and the videos are accompanied by Chinese subtitles and hanyu pinyin 
  • Comprehensive selection, with new content daily

A similar channel for older children is beimeicn. This has a wealth of content from songs to classic stories, and science explanations all in animated form.

Cartoons featuring Chinese Culture

Junior Master 少年师爷

Junior Master (also translated as Little Counselor) contains 520 episodes following a young boy fighting injustices in the Ming and Qing eras.  The shows are filled with Chinese culture, from their clothes and hairstyles, through to the soundtrack and landscapes (stone bridges, awning boats, etc).  This particular linked version has Chinese and English subtitles.

Target Ages: 7 – 10

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • Great glimpse into Chinese history, and beautiful imagery from ancient China (especially the Jiangnan Water Village)
  • Written with a sound educational pedagogy, including references to many history legends and stories, along with Chinese culture and wisdom.
  • The plot is wonderfully creative, with some lovely background songs too

HeavenKid 弟子规 – 天庭小子-小乾坤

HeavenKid is an award winning series, produced in Taiwan.  It’s based on a Chinese novel called Di-Zi-Gui, which was written in the Qing Dynasty.  It’s based on the ancient teachings of Confucius, that emphasis good morals and living in harmony.  But, it’s not boring or preachy!

Target age: 4 – 8

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • Really shows historical Chinese culture – I find this aspect of traditional Chinese culture is more prominent in Taiwanese origin cartoons than those from Mainland China, which tend to be more modern and cutting edge.
  • Teaches good lessons about morals, virtues and discipline in a fun way
HeavenKid, with English subtitles

Daddy, where are we going? 爸爸去哪儿

This is an animated version of the reality drama which features celebrity dads who go on outings with their kids, whilst the mothers are away.

If your children enjoy this, you could then transition to the non-animated drama series, once children are familiar with the story and key characters  

Target Age: 4 – 8

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • It’s a good “baby step” to transition into non-animated dramas
  • The non-animated version is here
  • Animated version is here

These are Youku links, so I haven’t embedded them into this blog post

Journey to the West 西游记

Journey to the West is a simplified cartoon version of the classic Chinese novel about a shape-shifting monkey on a kung-fu quest for eternal life.  There are plenty of versions of this, but our favourite is found on  华语大动漫频道

Target Age: 4 – 8

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • Relates to a classic of Chinese literature, and gives Chinese cultural context: Journey to the West is a cult classic, in fact, it’s said to be one of the world’s greatest fantasy novel.
  • Possible to reinforce other leaning:  this story is accessible in many forms of simplified books for children, and there are also non-animated versions of the show.  So, it’s possible to use this cartoon to encourage book reading (or vice versa) and the cartoon version might be a better way to get the children familiar with the story, prior to moving to the non-animated version which is here
  • Teaches values such as courage and perseverance

It’s worth noting that this does (very subtly) cover large elements of Buddhism, and history of Buddhism, with the plot focussed around a search for precious Buddhist sutras that will bring enlightenment to the Chinese empire.  It’s helpful to be aware of this, and it may not be relevant for all families.

Cartoons for basic Chinese literacy and Character learning

Sesame Street in Mandarin

“Fun Fun Elmo” is a ten-minute programme, entirely in Mandarin, designed to teach younger children the basics of the language, including basic Pinyin tones.  There are 26 episodes in total.

Target age: 3 – 5

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • Designed by early childhood language experts
  • Episodes are short
  • Contain familiar characters from the US Sesame Street series

漢字說故事  Chinese Character Stories 

This channel has nearly 100 short animated videos giving background to individual Chinese characters.  Good for a child starting out the language.  Each goes for about 3 – 4 minutes.

Target age: 3 – 5

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • Gives a pictorial grounding for the Chinese characters, with many of these animations based on from the historical oracle bones
  • Episodes are short
  • Characters are easy ones for a younger child to recognise

Cartoons emphasising life skills

Qiaohu (or Ciaohu) 巧虎TV 

Qiaohu is a popular educational show originating from Taiwan for children.  It’s largely designed as a subscription-based channel, although there are a few free clips on Youtube (on the official site, they’re all less than 8 minutes long, but it is possible to google and find full episodes).  Buying the DVD set in Singapore relatively cheap.   The show features a mix of animation, and live puppets/mascots, with plenty of rhymes and dancing, appropriate for younger age groups.  It features everyday routines and lifeskills for younger children (like handwashing, hair brushing, manners, etc)

(Note – this series actually originated in Japan.  It’s the only one on this list which doesn’t have a Chinese origin to it)

Target age: 2 – 4

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • I love Taiwanese children’s shows as they have excellent way of engaging the audience, and it’s great having some real people & mascots mixed in amongst the animations
  • There is a matching magazine / bookset which can also be bought through subscription (although the Simplified Chinese version is a little hard to order direct into Singapore; you’ll likely have to go through an agent)
  • If you’re buying the DVDs, look out for the older episodes as  they have more of a studio ‘live tv’ approach, rather than the more recent which are computer animated cartoons.

Baby Bus 宝宝巴士  

My daughter told me that Baby Bus is one of the most popular Chinese kids shows in China, and I had to Google it, but she’s right.  This is an animated series targeted at pre-schoolers in China, featuring two pandas who teach simple life skills.  The shows has very simple animations with plenty of songs, stories and nursery rhymes.  It’s a good next step about Baby Shark!

Target age: 2 – 5

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • Topics covered are broad, such as being neighbourly, arts and craft, health and safety (like brushing teeth, washing hands)
  • Very suitable for beginners, although episodes are long (one hour) so might be better split into a few viewings
  • Other apps and supporting games (if allowed in your family!)


This channel is designed by a Malaysian Dad who prefers his child to watch educational shows on YouTube.  This series shares photographs of nature (not cartoons), overlayed with interesting facts about animals and nature.

Target age: 3 – 5

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • It’s slow moving, and great for a child who isn’t used to much visual stimulus on the screen
  • Opportunity for a child to gain general knowledge learning and get the answers to many interesting questions, like “Why does an elephant have a trunk?” or “Why do people wear shoes?”.

Cartoons featuring Chinese idioms

Rock TV: 兄妹俩成语故事

These aren’t entirely ‘fun’, but if you’re trying to expose the children to idioms this is a relatively funny spin on them (….. it’s all relative).  The RockTV channel is created by a Malaysian, with a love or animation. Chinese idioms are introduced in short animation videos about a pair of sibling characters.

Target age: 5 – 8

Why it’s good from a Chinese learning perspective:

  • Light-hearted way to introduce idioms
  • Short videos, which are slow paced and clearly dictated

Another very similar channel is Yoyo TV:

For more great suggestions on free Youtube series relevant for children, see MamaBaby Mandarin, which lists lots and lots of Chinese series, although not all are Chinese origin. This previously was my go-to list to find Youtube series.

Other places to find great Chinese television content for children?

China’s a big country, so obviously they have a lot of excellent shows.. You can find great free content from CCTV Kids …. otherwise called CCTV Channel 14, which is a Mainland Chinese official media channel. They have tonnes of great programming to stream (like the equivalent of Sesame Street, Fat Cat, Teletubbies, Cooking shows, Wiggles, right through to soap dramas and content for older kids etc). One tip which a reader gave me is to put CCTV少儿 and 巧虎 on YouTube Kids and restrict it to only those channels.

Additionally the little red dot Singapore has some good Chinese series too, with local on-Demand TV series made freely available. Check out the Kids > Language > Chinese section. There are quiz shows, cooking shows, art, etc. Some favourite of ours are “Little Achievers” about children who overcome bad habits, and “Little Food Hunter” about favourite foods in South East Asia.

What are your favourites?

I would love to know your family’s favourites too.  Please share, and I’d love to add them into my blog, or link to your blog too.

If you have arrived at the end and found this helpful, maybe there are some other posts on my blog you might also enjoy. As a parent who doesn’t speak any Chinese, we’ve relied heavily on online tools, clever robots and recommendations of others in our Chinese learning journey. Some of my earlier posts are:

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