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I'm so excited about all the new products becoming available now and in the near future on Ni Hao Books. When I was in China on vacation three years ago, I was browsing through a bookstore in Guangzhou. Bookstore is an understatement, because it was a whole multi-story building devoted to books. It was a "Book City". I wish we had those things here!

Anyway, while looking around in the children's section, I came across "My Reader Pen" by Hongen. I was really impressed by the quality of the pen and the books. It's very similar to the Leapfrog pens we have here in US. One simply has to touch the pen to the words printed in the book and the pen reads them. I thought to myself, what a perfect way to learn Chinese! It's a great way for both children and adults to learn the correct pronunciation of Chinese words. Ever since then, I have been trying to bring this product to Ni Hao Books. Well, their products are finally here and available through us. The first books available are Hello Teddy Pocket Books, Chinese Reading House for Kids (Beginner Level), and My First Books. Imagine your child using the pen and books to listen to Chinese words, sentences and stories. How exciting! You don't even need to know Chinese yourself. Click below to learn more!

Hong En My Reader Pen and Starter Set.



Another awesome product is coming from down under-New Zealand, the Magic Story Box. They are very popular in New Zealand schools for learning Chinese. The Magic Story Box consist of six-level sets of readers for learners who have little knowledge of Chinese. The complete series consists of 72 readers, big books and audio CDs. 32 titles in Set A, and 32 titles in Set B. The first two levels will be available through Ni Hao Books shortly. Please contact us if you are interested in the big books and CDs, which are perfect for school settings. The stories contain sentences and funny stories. I have been looking for such books for my 6 year old who can recognize some Chinese characters. These books will motivate him to read more himself.

The next two books have become my absolute favorites because I identify with them completely. These two rhyming bilingual Chinese-English picture books about a girl who loves junk food and another girl who won't go to sleep will most certainly help your children learn Chinese through seeing a little of themselves in the characters. I, as a mom, laughed out loud while reading them. They are also beautifully illustrated.

Sasha the Stubborn Sleeper Sasha The Stubborn Sleeper

Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 Updated: Saturday, September 3, 2011 By Ni Hao Books

Mid Autumn Festival (中秋节,zhōng qiū jié ) will fall on Sept. 22nd this year. The roundness of the full moon symbolizes the reunion of family members. It's a time for family to get together, enjoy a meal, gaze upon the moon, and share some yummy snacks.

The most well known snack associated with this holiday is moon cake. Moon cakes are only available around Mid Autumn Festival, so for people who love moon cakes like myself, this is the only time of the year to gorge on these yummy desserts. Moon cakes come with different fillings. The most popular ones are made with lotus seeds and salted egg yokes. It always amazes me how the sweetness of the moon cakes and the saltiness of the egg yoke pair so well together. Another popular version of moon cakes come with red bean filling. Red bean is very commonly used in Chinese deserts, so moon cakes with it are simply delicious. Another traditional filling is various nuts, so it's a salty version. I've never gotten used to them. Moon cakes, to me, should always be sweet.

Besides moon cakes, other traditional snacks are pomelo, star fruit, persimmon, taro and water caltrop. All of these can be found in Asian markets here in the US. Taro and water caltrop are boiled in water before consumption.

My favorite part of the Mid Autumn Festival is the lanterns. Parents will buy their children beautiful lanterns made in the shapes of animals, planes, cars, flowers and many other things. After dinner, the kids are allowed to light their lanterns with candles inside, and take walks outside with their parents or friends. Even my school would ask students to come to school at night, and we would all take a walk with our classmates through the streets and apartment buildings with our lanterns brightly lit.

Another fun activity besides lighting lanterns is guessing riddles. Pieces of paper with riddles, usually in the form of a poem, are hung up during celebrations, for people to guess. The answers can be a Chinese character or a thing (animal, object, etc.)

If you live in the San Diego area, you may be interested in attending the Family Moon Festival celebration at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum on Oct. 2nd, 2010 from 1pm to 3pm. For detail information, you can email info@sdchm.org, or by calling the museum at 619-338-9888.

The North University Community Branch Library is also having a concert on Sept. 21st at 6:30pm to celebrate.

Whatever you decide on to do on Sept. 22nd, whether going to a festival to celebrate, eating a moon cake, or gaze upon the moon, or lighting a beautiful lantern, we here at Ni Hao Books wish you a Happy Mid Autumn Festival!

To celebrate, Ni Hao Books is offering 10% off your entire order. No coupon code is required, and the discount will be shown in your cart. Of course, shipping is still free for orders over $20! Show now for Chinese children's books! This offer expires September 30, 2010.

Posted: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 Updated: Saturday, August 20, 2011 By Ni Hao Books

The Berenstain Bears

Even though I speak to my 5 year old son in Mandarin only, I do read a lot of books in English to him. When he was little, I used to translate all the books into Chinese as I read to him. But as he gets older and speaks more English from talking to his dad and his friends, I thought it will be a good idea to read books in English to him since it's hard to translate words that rhyme, especially those Dr. Seuss books. Before long, my son felt in love with the Berenstain Bear family. Every time we go to the library, we have to look for the ones he hasn't read, by now, he has read every single one of the books. So I'm very excited that our bookstore now carries the Berenstain Bears books in Chinese. I no longer have to try to translate them myself, and he enjoys them as much as the ones in English. What a great way to get him listening to more Chinese words and sentences.

Check out the Berenstain Bears Books in Chinese!

More books will be available soon.

Posted: Friday, February 5, 2010 Updated: Saturday, August 20, 2011 By Ni Hao Books

Year of the Tiger

As we approach the Chinese New Year, let us from Ni Hao Books wish you a healthy and prosperous year! New Year’s Day will be on Sunday, Feburary 14th this year, and it will be the year of the Tiger.

As an ABC (American Born Chinese), my Chinese New Year's experiences were different from my wife's in some ways. We didn't have any days off and it wasn't as big of a deal for most of my non-Chinese friends, so there weren't the type of celebrations she experienced in China. However, there were many similarities: Good food, and lots of it, and the greatly anticipated "red pockets". Chinese New Year, to me, was more about getting "lucky money" more than anything else. Of course, now that I have kids of my own, I get to experience the other side, since traditionally, as a parent myself, and with friends and relatives also with children, it is our responsibilities to give out the lucky money. The experience is different in other ways as well. Today, Chinese New Year is more widely celebrated in the U.S., and many cities hold parades and festivals. There are more opportunities to experience the sights, sounds, and flavors of a traditional New Year's celebration, from the drumming of lion dances and the popping of firecrackers to the sweet cakes that I remember from my youth.

Ni Hao Books is offering all a special 5% off any purchase. Use discount code "roar" at checkout. (Expires February 28. 2010) And remember, all orders over $20 (after discount) ship free! Think of it as our "red pocket" to you. Shop Now!

Xin Nian Kuai Le!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Posted: Thursday, February 4, 2010 Updated: Saturday, August 20, 2011 By Ni Hao Books

Happy Chinese Valentine's Day

Chinese Valentine's Day falls on the seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese lunar calendar. This year it is August 26th. The legend surrounding this day is the story of Niu Lang and Zhi Nu.

Niu Lang was a young cow herder, who fell in love with a beautiful fairy girl from heaven. They married and had two children. However, the Goddess of heaven did not allow a fairy girl to marry a mortal man. She forced Zhi Nu to return to heaven. Nu Lang was heart broken, and decided to fly to heaven to find his wife, carrying his children.The Goddess was so angry she created a river in the sky to separate the two lovers, thus creating the milky way. Nu Lang and Zhi Nu became the stars Altair and Vega.

But on the seventh day of the seventh month, all the magpies in the world would fly up into heaven to form a bridge so the lovers may be together for a single night.

I don't remember much of celebrating this holiday while growing up in China. I was pretty young back then and probably didn't pay much attention to it. But thinking back, I do realize people in China didn't celebrate this day like how people here celebrate Valentine's Day. The Valentine's Day here is such a happy occasion with flowers and candies. The legend of the Chinese Valentine's Day is much more bittersweet, even though Nu Lang and Zhi Nu get to meet today, but they will spend the rest of the year in a life alone.

Posted: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 Updated: Saturday, August 20, 2011 By Ni Hao Books

Chinese Spring Festivals

There are two major festivals during spring time in China. The first is the Qingming festival, which happens on the 12th of the 3rd lunar month. Chinese people spend the day visiting the graves of their ancestors. They clean the graves, offer food which include fruit and wine to their ancestors, and burn paper money which is believed to allow the dead to buy things on the other side. Chinese people place a great emphasis on showing respect to their ancestors. Most Chinese believe their ancestors can bestow blessings or curses from the other side.

Because I grew up in the communist regime, most people in the city tried to do away with old traditions like this. The mostly atheist population don't believe the ancestors might still be present as spirits or can affect us in any ways. So during this holiday, many people choose to go hiking instead, which for city dwellers is a rare opportunity to enjoy nature. The higher the mountain one can climb, the better.

When I was in school, we were organized by the school to bring flowers to veterans' graves. It was a nice fieldtrip for us little kids and while we didn't understand much of the meaning of visiting graves, we were able to enjoy the nice spring weather and a day out instead of attending school.

Another major holiday during the spring time is the Dragon Boat festival (DuanWu Festival). This festival originated from the story related to the poet Qu Yuan. He was a loyal minister to the emperor of the Chu state during the Warring States period, before the unification of China by Qin Shi Huang. Due of jealousy stemming from others in the court, Qu Yuan was sent to exile. While on exile, he wrote great poetries expressing his love for his country and concerns of its future. When his country, the state of Chu, was about to be conquered by other states, Qu Yuan committed suicide by jumping into the river. Once people heard of his suicide, they rushed to the river on boats trying to look for him. They drummed and splashed water trying to keep the fish from eating his body. They also threw in rice for the fish to eat. The food they threw into the water eventually became "zongzi", which is sticky rice with various fillings wrapped in bamboo leaves. There are salted zongzi with pork, salted eggs, beans fillings, and sweet zongzi with red bean filling. When I was young, zongzi were only sold during DuanWu festival, but nowadays, I can find them sold everyday at any Asian supermarket. The boats racing to save the poet with drums and paddles became the "Dragon Boat Race", which has become an international sport in recent years. In the US you can find it at many cities, such as San Francisco, Miami, and Houston.

Posted: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 Updated: Saturday, August 20, 2011 By Ni Hao Books

Year of the Ox!

As we approach the Chinese New Year, let us from Ni Hao Books wish you a healthy and prosperous year! New Year’s Day will be on Monday, January 26th this year, and it will be the year of the Ox.

I haven’t been able to celebrate New Year in China for almost 20 years. Many of my favorite things in childhood are related to the New Year festivities. In Southern China, especially Guangzhou where I grew up, buying fresh flowers from the flower market is a big event before New Year’s Day. It isn’t common for people to normally buy flowers to decorate their homes during the rest of the year, unlike Americans who have access to flower shops even within grocery stores. So as the New Year approaches, for weeks before hand, vendors selling fresh flowers spring up everywhere in Guangzhou. One street on the bank of the Peal River is converted to a flower market. All kinds of flowers are sold such as daisies, roses, lilies, tulips, peach flower, and Chrysanthemums. Those flowers are used to decorate homes, bringing a sense of spring and a festive atmosphere. Many people also buy kumquats in pots which are supposed to bring luck and wealth.

I also loved the red pockets. As a child growing up, I never got an “allowance”, so this was one of few opportunities for me to receive money. I’m sure my parents were not too excited about it since they had to give red pockets away!

New Year’s Eve is a huge event. Families and friends gather together sharing a big meal with lots of dishes. Fish is usually one of them since it signifies abundance. Everyone gathers around the dinner table and watches the New Year variety show on TV while eating dinner. The show usually goes on for 5 hours, with dancing, singing, comedy, skits and greetings from overseas Chinese. When it gets closer to midnight, firecrackers start going off. I remember that by the time midnight hits, the cracking of firecrackers was so loud that we had to cover our ears! Then on New Year’s Day, I woke up to a set of new clothes signifying a new beginning.

Oh, how fun it was and still is. If you ever have a chance, I highly recommend traveling to China, especially Guangzhou, during Chinese New Year. I plan on taking my kids there someday. But for now, we will watch the variety show on YouTube.

To celebrate Chinese New Year, Ni Hao Books is offering 5% off your entire purchase! Use discount code “moo” (Expires Feb 28, 2009). Also, standard free shipping (no code necessary) applies to any order over $20. Shop Now!

Xin Nian Kuai Le! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Posted: Saturday, January 24, 2009 Updated: Saturday, August 20, 2011 By Ni Hao Books

Whether you're studying for the SAT or learning a new language flashcards may not be the flashiest, but they are the classic way to learn new words, and can be made fun, even for young children. In our household, we introduce new cards periodically and quiz our 3-and-a-half year-old and his dad to see who can recognize the most Chinese characters. And it's a great way for him to pick up some more Chinese as well. We also play games with picture flashcards, which is much easier than trying to recognize Chinese characters. Our son loves it, because he gets to show off how much more Chinese he knows than his dad. He also gets a kick out of correcting his dad's pronunciation. We also tape the flashcards with Chinese characters onto corresponding things in our house. We start with simple characters such as "men" (door) and "deng" (light), then increase to more difficult ones like "dian hua" (telephone) and "dian shi" (TV). Even though our house is full of flashcards taped onto furniture, toys, and even utensils, but it's a great way to expose our son to Chinese as much as possible.

Flashcards are easy to make if you want to, and can be part of the learning activity. Just print out the Chinese characters in a big font on a piece of paper and the corresponding pinyin on another. Then cut them out and glue them onto index cards. If you want to make picture cards, it is fairly easy to find pictures online to print out as well.

Of course, if you would like to purchase flashcards, we sell them here as well. The flashcards we sell are easily organized on a plastic ring, so they can stay together, and our son enjoyed going through them. Most have colorful pictures on one side, and the pinyin, English, and Chinese characters on the other side.

Currently, all our flashcards are 20% off! Click here to view our selection. We hope you will take advantage of it and use them in fun ways to teach your children more Chinese!

Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 Updated: Friday, October 24, 2008 By Ni Hao Books

"Ni Hao!" Hello! That may be the only Mandarin Chinese you know. It is probably one of the most familiar phrases in Chinese. Even the carnival hawkers at our local county fair know to yell it out at me after they recognize I'm Chinese (sometimes after yelling "Konnichiwa" unsuccessfully, though). It was probably almost all the Mandarin Chinese I knew for a long time, despite being Chinese myself. (I grew up "speaking" Cantonese, if you can call the sounds coming out of my mouth that, but that's a different topic). So here I am today with a 3 year old spouting out Mandarin like there's no tomorrow, and I'm thinking I better pick up on it, or he'll be talking to his mom about me, probably making fun of me, and I won't even know it! Maybe that's what my wife intended - her secret plan to keep control when boys outnumber girls 2 to 1 (and soon to be 3 to1). In any case, it's what we decided long ago: I would speak to him in English, and my wife would speak to him in Mandarin Chinese. It was a tip we learned from another parent to help him learn both languages and keep them separate, and for the most part it's worked out great, except that I don't really understand him 50% of the time. Of course, our son will dutifully translate what he just said to me if I ask him to. And when we went to China this past year, he was somewhat useful as my personal translator (although not surprisingly, not as useful as I hoped). So I continue to study his Chinese flash cards, so I can learn more Chinese words and try to keep up with him. Unfortunately, my brain is over 10 times older than his (gulp!) and doesn't absorb at quite the same rate. Luckily, I did take a year of Mandarin Chinese in college, but that was woefully inadequate. A young brain can absorb multiple languages in an amazing fashion, and I'm constantly in awe at how easily my son can pick up both Chinese and English so easily and keep them separate. When meeting new people, he quickly ascertains whether they speak Chinese or English, and switch to the correct language channel seamlessly. If I tell him, in English, to tell his mom something, he'll translate the message instantly and tell her in Chinese.

My wife has taught our son well, but one problem she always faced was that when it came to story time, most of the books and other materials she could find was in English. There were some sources of materials, but not too much impressed her. She wanted to read Chinese stories to him, and share the same poems and songs that she grew up with. So she was inspired to start Ni Hao Books to provide a source of Chinese books, particularly story books, picture books, DVD's, flash cards, and other materials that she found useful in not only teaching our child Chinese, but also some Chinese culture and history as well.

Chinese is used by at least 1 in 4 people on this planet, and with China growing as an economic powerhouse, it's becoming more useful to be able to speak some Chinese, and more than just "Ni Hao!". My wife even taught a Chinese immersion class in a local preschool! And more and more schools at all levels are starting to offer Chinese classes. I better get back to studying those flashcards, so I can get more right than our son the next time his mom quizzes us. In the mean time, take a look around the store, leave a comment, and enjoy! "Xie Xie!" "Thanks" for visiting and taking the time to read my meandering thoughts.

Check back here for tips and other articles about our own experiences teaching a child Chinese, as well as games and other activities you can try to help your child learn Chinese as well.

Posted: Friday, August 22, 2008 Updated: Thursday, September 18, 2008 By Ni Hao Books

 

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