1000+ Chinese Picture Books compatible with Luka Reading Robot

Our two year anniversary of owning our Luka Reading Robot is fast approaching. This post is a major update to my previous list of Luka compatible books, and lists out 1000+ noteworthy books which we have enjoyed reading through our Luka Reading Companion.

Our experience with Luka has been a love affair since the box was first opened, and we think we’ve read close to 1500 books in Mandarin using Luka during that time. For a family where no adults speak Chinese, this has enabled a most a dramatic shift in literacy and literary enjoyment in our home.

I will endeavor to slowly to keep linking in more detailed reviews of each of the series in the post which we’ve enjoyed the most. Luka can read >70,000 books, so we still have many years left of literary pleasure and new books to discover.

This post covers:

  1. How to choose a great Chinese picture book?
  2. Best Luka books for babies and toddlers
  3. Best Luka books for preschoolers
  4. Best Luka books for kindergarten and early primary
  5. Best Luka books for older primary
  6. Checking if a book is compatible with Luka

How to know if a Chinese picture book will be good to read with Luka?

Initially, we used to just borrow books from the Chinese picture book section of the local library and keep our fingers crossed, since with Luka Reading Robot knowing 70,000+ books, there was a good chance she could read whatever we borrowed. However, a far more enjoyable strategy has been to stick to books which have been recommend by our favourite Chinese bookstores, since I now realise there are also lots of ho-hum Chinese books too. A few of the pitfalls we have discovered in Chinese picture books with Luka are that:

  1. Some great English books have been translated poorly (e.g. the rhymes don’t carry through, such as for the well known Madeline series, or something which should be relatively simple text like Nate the Great becomes mammothly complex in Chinese version)
  2. Many of the Chinese origin books place a strong emphasis on moral values, which is not a bad thing, but it means they’re really not so fun or imaginative
  3. Some book types are better read by parents to their children, rather than by a robot like Luka, especially if the adult cannot engage with what is being read (eg books which raise a lot of open questions such as T-Rex series, or books which require explanations such as Full Moon)
  4. Sometimes the Chinese recording can be too fast (thankfully not too many in this category)

Something we now do regularly is that when we find a book the children like (if they enjoy the book, it generally avoids all the above issues) we then focus on finding more books from that same author.  You’ll notice from the book list that we have particularly enjoyed many series translated from Japanese, and for which many aren’t available in English.

In the booklist below, I’ve ranked each book using *stars* allocated by my kids. Note that my kids’ favourite doesn’t always mean my favourite, since Luka is for their own literary pleasure (in contrast to books I would select in order to assist them in learning to read, or books which I would choose to read with them to discuss certain behaviors, morals, learning themes, etc).

They’re ranked as:

  • One Star * : Mum didn’t approve of the story and removed it from the collection
  • Two Stars **: Kids didn’t enjoy the story as much as I’d hoped
  • Three Stars *** : They enjoyed the story once or twice, but not a keeper
  • Four Stars **** : They will ask to read it again
  • Five Stars ***** : They read it regularly, so very glad we bought our own copies

Best Luka Compatible Books for Babies and Toddlers (0 – 3 year olds)

I have less books in this category, because I don’t think Luka is ideal for a baby …. however after the launch of Luka Mini (much more toddler friendly version) in late 2020, my toddler did start to enjoy a few more books.

Best Luka Books for Preschoolers (4 – 6 year olds)

Note – this is the biggest category of books, as I think this is the ideal age for engaging with Luka. I have split the list into our top favourites (4 and 5 stars) and then the rest. My reason for including all “the rest” is that at this age group, I feel kids just need to read and read, so all of these books are great to borrow from the library. Most of them are actually award winning titles, and even if they’re not hits at our place, perhaps they will be at yours.

Our most favourite Luka compatible Chinese books for 3 – to 6 year olds (4 and 5 stars!)

Luka compatible books for preschoolers
Favorite picture books to read with Luka for preschoolers

Luka Compatible Picture Books we enjoyed for 3 – to 6 year olds (3 stars)

Luka compatible books for preschoolers
Other books which we enjoyed reading with with Luka for preschoolers

Other notable Luka Compatible Picture Books which Luka reads for 3 – to 6 year olds , but we didn’t enjoy as much (1 and 2 stars)

Luka compatible books for preschoolers
Books that we wished had been better for preschoolers

I’ve made some more detailed reviews of various books listed above for this age group including:

Best Luka Compatible Books for Kindergarten and Lower Primary age children (4 – 8 year olds)

Luka compatible books for lower primary
Chinese Picture Books for Lower Primary kids to read with Luka

I’ve made some more detailed reviews of various books listed above for this age group including:

Best Luka Compatible Books for older primary age children (6+)

There are some seriously brilliant series for older children. My elder child can sit for hours listening to these sets (some books take 30+ minutes to narrate), which is a great non-screen time activity.

Luka compatible books for older children
Chinese Picture Books for Lower Primary kids to read with Luka

How to check whether a book is compatible with Luka or Luka Hero

It’s easy peasy to check whether a book is compatible using the Luka App, if you have a physical copy of the book with you ….. simply scan the barcode/ISBN code on your phone, and it will tell you if Luka has a narration of the book. 

Use the scanner in top right of the Luka app to scan a book’s barcode and see if Luka recognises it

If you don’t have the book with you, I usually I go by a few general rules of thumb to find Luka compatible books:

  1. Focus on books published in mainland China (not Singapore, HK, or Taiwan)
  2. Focus on publishers like Scholastic, HarperCollins, Ladybird, or major Chinese publishing houses (in particular Beijing Limited Publishing Co and Qingdao Publishing House seem to be winners)
  3. Consider using an ISBN barcode generator app, and scanning this if you really want to be sure (one reader suggested this specific barcode generator)

Where to buy Luka compatible books

Our preferred option is ALWAYS to borrow from the library first.  We always check the Singapore NLB catalogue online for availability, and it’s even possible to request a book prior to going to the library.  I’ve written a detailed post about the secret to finding great Luka books in the NLB library collection, as I appreciate it’s not always easy,

However for Luka compatible book buying, a few options are listed below – I have no affiliations, simply sharing so you can access more books:

In Singapore: Most of the titles listed in this post are available from either My Story Treasury, Under the Moonlight, Flip for Joy, One Last Book or Books4Tots. Several of these stores have offered a 10% discount to my blog readers, which you can find on this page with our favorite bookstores in Singapore.

In Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia & New Zealand:  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. Thank you Luka Reads for the kindness of blessing my readers!

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.  If you quote “LAHLAHSPECIAL” on checkout, my blog reader will receive 10% off. This is a really kind gesture from the dynamic four sister team behind De Ziremi.

In United StatesJoJo Learning stocks many Luka compatible titles, as does JD.

Which great Luka Compatible books are we missing?

We’ve come across these books largely by trial and error, and recommendations from others. Which books have your family enjoyed reading through Luka? Feel free to leave any comments or questions.  I’d love to learn more about your favourite books to read along with Luka, either through add comments below, or my Instagram or Facebook feeds. It’s only through meeting other wonderful parents virtually, that this shared language journey becomes a more valuable one.

If you’re in Singapore and enjoy children’s Chinese literature and learning, join the conversation with other like-minded parents at the FB Group Ni Hao Singapore Primary School learning, which I host along with a few other Singapore-based bloggers, including the amazing Ms Claudia Lee Kimura.

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