Singapore is 100% blessed with a plethora of lovely Chinese bookstores, and many of our favourite ones have passionate owners who will be able to curate the perfect books for your family too.
As a mother who doesn’t read or speak Chinese, I’m really thankful for the amazing options out there, mainly run by passionate mums who have helped to build out our Chinese home library, and instil a love for Chinese literature in our family. Whether you are a native speaker or not, I think the below bookstores will satisfy all your needs (and make you realise you discover even more needs!). Many of them have exciting Instagram accounts too, which will keep you inspired and up-to-date with beautiful literature.
The selection in Popular bookstores isn’t very attractive and the ones selling at Kino are so expensive, so please do consider these 10 alternative great places to get great Chinese books for children in Singapore, including some generous promo codes exclusively for Lah Lah Banana readers:
- My Story Treasury
- Flip for Joy
- Under the Moonlight
- Luka Reads
- Little Book Dot
- Read With Us Lah
- Maha Yuyi
- Lingzi Media
- Singapore NLB
My Story Treasury
If you’re looking for a one-stop solution, My Story Treasury is a lovingly curated collection of Chinese picture story books for toddler and younger kids. We know from experience that anything in their collection will be excellent! The bookstore founder is Linxin, a passionate educator with a huge heart. She writes a review of each book in her store, including helpful suggestions of how to use the books effectively. The site also encourages buyers to post their own reviews and ratings too, which I find helpful.
Most of her collection is designed to instil a growth mindset, strong morals (including great Christian titles), and a deeper understanding of Chinese culture. In Linxin’s own words, “we curate fun and meaningful children’s books, that nuture curiosity and character”. She also has a stunning Instagram feed / FB feed which is well worth following.
- Promo code: 10% discount if you use LahLahBanana10 at checkout from their store (thank you Linxin for the generosity).
- Website: https://mystorytreasury.com/
- Our favourite books from there: Too many to name. I’d say 60% of the Chinese books we own come from here. It includes sets like 100层的房子 Hundred Storey Building series, 乌鸦面包店 Crow Bakery, 可爱的鼠小弟 Adorable Little Brother Mouse, 开心小猪和大象哥哥 Elephant and Piggie, Tatsuya Miyanishi’s Tyrannosaurus, books on feelings, and festivals and so many more.
- Favourite use: browsing Linxin’s thoughtful reviews, and being inspired to read more widely! She also has excellent Singaporean authors in her collection, with aim for children 0 – 12 years (more in the younger category). Her website also has some very cool free tools, like a Chinese Soduko generator and some character card games. For Christian books, it’s hard to beat this site too.
- Website language: English
Wow, Books4Tots has a LOT of great books, both Chinese and English. In fact, too many to keep listing on their website. This is our go-to option in case we read about a particular book we’re keen for, but cannot find it anywhere else in Singapore. Angeline has an endless array of excellent books, and will also do pre-orders of books from her suppliers in China. We’ve found a few gems from here. She also has some helpful book recommendations – when I’ve given her specific books we like, Angeline will also chime in with a couple of other similar titles to recommend too, and they’ve generally been winners.
- Promo code: 10% discount if you use lahlahbanana for all regular-priced items (thank you Angeline for blessing my blog readers!). Valid till 31st August 2021.
- Website: https://shopbooks4tots.com
- Our favourite books from there: Butt Detective Series 屁屁侦探, Fair then Partly Piggy 晴天有时下小猪, and various levelled readers like Magic School Bus, Nate the Great, and the Princess in Black.
- Favourite use: requesting for specific obscure Chinese titles we’d like to pre-order (it’s much easier than trying to find the books on Taobao); also they have beautifully selected parenting books in English. It’s well worth a browse.
- Website language: English
Flip for Joy
Flip for Joy is another Singapore-based children’s online bookstore, dedicated to sourcing the best Chinese books around the world. Their collection is not big, but it’s cute and thoughtful, and they’re on a mission to keep bring in great new titles. The shop is run by the passionate Meiru, a trained Chinese language teacher and a mother of two. She is passionate about reading and raising bilingual children, and her curation is hard to beat. Delivery is fast! They stock Simplified Chinese versions of many popular English books (like Herve Tullet, Rod Campbell, Roald Dahl, Sam McBratney etc), and also a great place to find presents for others.
- Website: https://www.flipforjoy.com.sg/
- Our favourite books from there: Eric Carle Collection, Guess How Much I Love You, Doreen Cronin books and of course Magnatiles.
- Favourite use: looking at their new titles and toys, and finding birthday gifts for others. They also have e-gift cards which are nice.
- Website language: English
Under the Moonlight
Under the Moonlight is run by Li Ann, an inspiring mum of two kids working in the wee hours of night, to share Chinese books that her children love. Her eldest is 12 and youngest is 2.5 years old, so her expertise spans from babies to teens. Under the Moonlight has a wide selection of books, with lovingly written reviews – in both English and Chinese. The books are sorted by theme, which I enjoy. The business was started because Li Ann and a few friends truly feel there was a lack of quality and affordable Mandarin books for their children when they reached lower primary level. So she worked with two Chinese educators, and curated a collection. Li Ann says “At the time when we started the business, our children were all at the lower primary level hence we feel very strongly that we could do something to source for interesting books and make them available here in Singapore. Right now we are mainly selling books on the online webshop. We do curated gift boxes upon requests, based on customers’ budget.”
- Promo code: 10% discount code if you enter lahlahbanana10 on checkout, valid till 30 Sep 2021.
- Website: https://www.underthemoonlightsg.com/
- Our favourite books from there: This is the only bookstore on the list which we haven’t actually bought from, but they’re highly recommended from others, and I totally see why. I love their collection, and looking at the book there, many are the type we love to borrow from the Singapore library, like Taro Gomo and Miyanishi Tatsuya classics, or that we already have (seriously we must own 30% of the books they sell!). I literally spent 2 years searching for Chinese character dominoes (which we now have after asking dozens of people), and there they are sitting right under my nose on the Under the Moon website! The same with some amazing dot-to-dot books they have. I also ADORE the fact that they have an entire page dedicated to Chinese booked translated from Japanese. These are our favourite kind of books.
- Favourite use: Clearly lots of excellent titles here for any family! Li Ann also told me that that with their curated gift boxes, popular requests are full month gift box or a birthday gift box. What a meaningful gift!
- Website language: English (predominantrely) & Chinese
It’s no surprise that Luka Reads is on this list, as we love our Luka Reading Robot, and most of the picture books we read are using Luka (a necessity without a Chinese reading adult in the family). The great thing about Luka Reads bookshop is that they are based in Singapore, and you can be sure that every title they stock will be compatible with Luka. The titles are well priced, and delivered fast. It’s a lovely passionate team there, and they personally test out all their titles with their children. We bought a lot of our picture books from China prior to Luka Reads opening in Singapore, and it was quite a gamble whether they would be comptaile or not. It’s reassuring to know we’ll never need to do that again, and their booksets represent great value. Luka can read 70,000 + picture books, from a variety of great authors ad publishers.
- Promo code: 10% off for books using lahlah10offbooks. There’s another discount code for the Reading Robot itself, if you look at my earlier posts.
- Website: https://www.lukareads.com/
- Our favourite books: again, way too many to name. I’ve made another page on all our great Luka compatible books. One nice highlight of the Luka Reads collection is also the 红蜻蜓学前阅读计划 Odonata Graded Learning Reader Sets, which can now be narrated by Luka. They also have a Smart Flashcard Idiom Card set, which brings idioms to live through Luka.
- Favourite use: Great for picture books, with added bonus they’re all compatible with Luka!
- Website language: English
Little Book Dot
Little Book Dot has books sorted by age group (this age group is more like an ‘interest’ level age, as I find from a reading perspective they’re still quite hard without an adult to assist in the reading). I also find the website has more of a Chinese slant, but what I love is that they have multiple full-page spreads of the insides of the books, which I will often show to my daughters and ask them to read it. It’s a nice way to sample books.
- Promo discount code: Two codes: $10 off purchase above $100, use discount code LBD$10. Then, 10% off purchases above $150, use discount code LBD10%
- Website: https://www.littlebookdot.com/
- Our favourite books from there: Books based on TV shows like Paw Patrol or Peppa Pig, along with famous English series including Curious George, Miffy, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Dr Suess, Wimpy Kid, Geronimo Stilton, Julia Donaldson, and Mr Men. They also stock tremendous bridging books like Wilma the Elephant, Les P’tites Poules & Laura’s Star Series.
- Favourite use: browsing age-appropriate books, and also finding translations of popular English titles in Chinese. Great for harder books.
- Website language: English & Chinese
Read With Us Lah
Read With Us Lah is a very small online Carousell retailer, with an ever-changing collection of great reads in English and Chinese. In fact, we’ve bought more English books from them than Chinese, probably because the reading level is aimed at mid-primary (titles like Roald Dahl, etc). Service is lovely and fast, and it’s possible to combine shipping. There are actually lots of emerging small businesses now on Carousell, Shoppee and Lazada platforms, which I know are keeping all the other online bookstores on their toes, and ensuring that great value products are available in Singapore from a variety of sources.
- Our favourite books from there: 米小圈上学记 Mi Xiao Quan’s School Diary, and 我会自己读 Disney I can read Chinese readers.
- Favourite use: for cheap deals for popular sets of books!!
- Website language: English through Carousell
Maya Yuyi will have just about any book you could want, from toddlers to teens, and adults too! Maya Yuyi have a physical store in Bras Basah, along with an extensive online store. They often have sales at their store, so be sure to go along with an empty bag. It’s a bit like going to Ikea – you’ll end up wanting to buy way too many things. What we really like about their website is their suggested ‘booklists’ which have been designed for specific schools in Singapore (like the CHIJ Toa Payoh Primary reading corner, which is split out by school year level).
- Our favourite books from there: Butt Detective Series 屁屁侦探, New Stars Island Graded Picture Book Series 《新新岛》分级读本系列, and some other bridging books, including 小妖怪童话系列 Little Monster Fairytales and Dumpling Series 爱悦读: 小豆包系列.
- Favourite use: browsing their primary school booklists! Great for finding year-level appropriate reading which is unlikely to have an English equivalent.
- Website language: Chinese (but it’s seamless to use in English when browsing with Google using live translate, and ordering is a cinch too)
Lingzi Media is a publishing and distribution company established with the aim of promoting the Chinese language in Singapore.Their site is fully in Chinese; it’s quite a minefield for a non-Chinese parent. The reason we persist is that they stock some lovely local Singaporean titles. Lingzi produced a wide range of literary and non-fiction titles with local writers, and they also stock some international content mainly through co-publishing.
- Website: https://sgchinesebooks.com/
- Our favourite books: 狮城往事绘本系列 – on Singapore heritage occupations, 新加坡华族传统食品 on Singapore heritage dishes, and 大家来过节 on local festivals (including Indian and Malay) in Singapore.
- Favourite use: local Singaporean content …. although I must admit whilst their collection is lovely, it’s impossible for a non-Chinese parent to know how good (or how complicated) these books are, and even attempt to read them, as most don’t have any audio translate options. Best tip would be that most of their kid-friendly books are also stocked by My Story Treasury (reviewed above), which is how we were blessed with all of our Lingzi Media books.
- Website language: Chinese
Singapore NLB Collection
The Singapore NLB collection also contains an excellent array of Chinese books.
You might ask why we don’t just borrow everything from the library? Two reasons: firstly, for my elder daughter who now reads bridging books, it’s basically impossible to be able to get a full set of books, in order, from the library when you want it. Secondly, I have kids that when they fall in love with something, the really like to read it over and over again, be it with Luka, with a friend, by themselves, for school silent reading, or for a thematic study we might be doing. I have three kids, so the effective price of buying a good bookset is quite low, versus the opportunity cost of trying to keep finding it at the library.
That said, we do borrow about thirty books a month from the library, to match topics we’re learing about at home. We also use the library as our “try before we buy” option. We borrow it from the library first, and then buy the full set if it’s a real winner for the family.
- Promo code: Are you joking? This free resource is the best deal in town. But you should sign up for Book Bugs and enjoy the free trading cards with books you borrow.
- Website: https://catalogue.nlb.gov.sg/
- Our favourite books: again, way too many to name. I know the Chinese section in the library can be a little daunting for non-Chinese parents, so I wrote an earlier post with some suggestions on how to find great Chinese books in Singapore library. If you really feel intimidated browsing in the Chinese section, consider a visit to Tampines Regional Library where the books are laid out so beautifully, on shelves where you can see the front covers and easily browse.
- Favourite use: For borrowing picture books on specific themes, and checking out series of interest
- Website language: English, but their Chinese book collection is written in Chinese
What if I’m not in Singapore?
In the course of writing this blog, I’ve been lucky enough to meet some passionate parents in other parts of the world, who have bookstores too.
In United Kingdom / Europe: De Ziremi is an online bookstore for Chinese literature for children, including many Christian books. Their collection is growing daily, and they’re hoping to stock some of the titles in this post. If you quote promo code “LAHLAHSPECIAL” on checkout, my blog readers will receive 10% off. This is a really kind gesture from the four sister team behind De Ziremi. Additionally, in UK there is Lantern Books, who aim to bring greater awareness of underrepresented East and Southeast Asian voices within children’s books, in both English and Chinese. They stock Habbi Habbi titles, which wins our vote! Wishing something like this existed locally in Singapore.
In Australia & New Zealand: Luka Reads has a local presence in Australia & New Zealand, with many wonderful books at great prices. Mandarin Readers is another Australian bookstore and toy collection. Browsing both of their sites always makes me smile. Mandarin Readers has an exquisite selection, with an assortment of sound books, Luka books and fun flash cards. Along with great books, they have excellent thematic play toys like felt dim sum, and magnetic tiles.
On Taobao – Taobao is a mega retailer out of China, with a collection of various small independent sellers. if you really must do this option, look at the end of my Taobao post for recommended bookstores through Taobao’s TMall, and ideally go through an English-speaking agent if you don’t read Chinese yourself. For specific titles, I also occasionally bundle them up together and order from Taobao / EZ Buy, although have been sometimes disappointed by the quality (like very thin pages) or by the books having different covers from what Luka can recognise. On the contrary, we’ve never been disappointed by the local stores in Singapore, and I think most of what you could dream of from Taobao will be available in Singapore from one of the bookstores I’ve recommended above.
On JD – This is another Chinese e-retailer of books, music, movies and more. I haven’t used it myself (my friends have!), and wouldn’t use this option unless you can read Chinese yourself. They do have fantastic 11/11 sales to get best prices. Most of my Chinese-speaking friends make bulk orders at this time.
Which bookstores would you recommend?
I’ve love to hear from you about your thoughts and recommendations. Reading widely is a key to attaining fluency in Chinese, and it’s something I’m passionate about. I love connecting with other book-loving comrades, and if you’re in Singapore, perhaps you might even like to join the Ni Hao Singapore Primary School Chinese FB Group created by a few local bloggers just for this purpose, and it includes the ability to buy and sell used books!
If you’ve reached the end and still wanting more ….. I’ve also written detailed reviews of great books we’ve enjoyed and how to encourage literacy in Chinese for children:
- Building a Chinese book library at home
- Is pinyin necessary to learn to read in Chinese?
- Is reaching Chinese fluency a realistic goal for families non-native families?
- Best Chinese Levelled Readers for emerging readers
- Best Bridging Books for children once they know 1000 characters
- Comparison of characters used in graded readers