Originally Published in: China
Language: Simplified Chinese
Pages per book: 260
Price per book: $23.25
Lines per page: 0-2
After reviewing several sets of Chinese books which attempt to tell the origin stories of Chinese characters, we chose this set which was the 2017 Gold Medalist in the category of Best Chinese Original Children's Books： 汉字是画出来的 (hàn zì shì huà chū lái dí) Like Pictures, Like Chinese, and its sequel 汉字是拼出来的(hàn zì shì pīn chū lái dí) Like Puzzles, Like Chinese.
The author 刘良鹏, a scholar of ancient oracle bone scripts, was inspired by his 3-year-old daughter to create these books to not only teach younger children Chinese Characters in a fun, engaging way but also to teach them the interconnections within the world around them.
His stunning, graceful illustrations and unprecedented child-focused interpretation of Chinese character origins quickly evolved into their own distinctive brand 小象汉字 (xiǎo xiàng hàn zì) "Like Chinese" in China.
In China, children are taught etymology and radicals from a young age. This information allows them to rapidly and significantly expand their vocabulary by combining a relatively small number of core characters into several hundred different configurations. It also allows them to make educated guesses about the meaning of new vocabulary which they encounter in text. Unfortunately, most overseas Chinese learners miss out on this foundation which enables rapid vocabulary growth. Most immersion programs do not have enough time in their day to go too deep into the intricacies of the Chinese language because they are expected to teach their students all of the same information their peers in in monolingual classrooms are learning. Most weekend Chinese schools are run by volunteer or low-paid teachers who generally stick closely to the school's provided curriculum which rarely includes enough etymology.
We recognize this discrepancy as one of the key reasons why overseas Chinese learners struggle to learn Chinese characters as quickly or efficiently as their native Chinese counterparts. We believe that advocating for early exposure to Chinese character origin stories and radicals could have tremendous impacts on the efficiency of learning Chinese as a second language.
These two books use pictures derived from oracle bone script to illustrate the meanings of characters.
汉字是画出来的 Like Pictures, Like Chinese
108 carefully-selected single-component characters which are pictographic or ideographic in origin.
汉字是拼出来的 Like Puzzle, Like Chinese
108 carefully-selected compound characters that are compound or phono-semantic in origin, placed into 17 groups that share the same or similar parts/radicals.
Is my child ready for this set?
"Read to me":
Children ages 3-6 who have started to show interest in recognizing Chinese characters will enjoy having these books read to them by parents and teachers.
"Read by myself":
Text is short but vocabulary is extensive, making this an advanced reader for children ages 6+ who know 1000+ Chinese characters. Adult who are Chinese-literate will enjoy reading about the Chinese character origins as well!