Chineasy for Children: Learn 100 Words

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The Chinese language is reportedly one of the most difficult languages in the world. But author ShaoLan attempts to make learning it easy — or at least easier — in her new oversized picture book, Chineasy For Children: Learn 100 Words.

Because Chinese doesn’t have an alphabet of letters (a to z), it must be read using symbols/characters. Author ShaoLan helps children learn by presenting 100 simplified characters and encouraging them to imagine them as pictures. She breaks down the characters into intuitive sections/themes, like “My World,” “Animals,” “Nature,” and “Let’s Go to China.”

Children begin by learning to notice the shape of a picture, and then to guess what they think that shape signifies. For instance, the character that signifies a “person” looks like a boy walking across a meadow.

Children then go on to learn the next most logical symbols: the character for “Man” and “Woman.” They learn the characters for “Tree,” “Woods,” and “Forest,” and other common characters, like “Water,” “Sun,” “Moon,” and “Mountain.”

There are sections on how to use multiple characters to form phrases, how to build new characters, and even how to identify parts of the body (i.e., ear, mouth, tongue, eye, etc.). Children learn characters for family members, opposites like up vs. down, and of course, how to count to ten.

This is a vibrant and brightly-colored picture book that may be just as much fun as it is informative. HOWEVER, it should be noted that the prose seems to target parents, and not the children ages 5 and up that it is said to be written for. It is for this reason that this reviewer has labeled it for children in grades 1-5. That aside, the illustrations are eye-catching and lush with color, and the helpful picture glossary and index at the back make learning much easier.

Use this book as a supplemental manual for teaching the basics of a foreign language. It might also be used for independent reading material for children with accelerated learning skills.

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