Monday, December 14, 2015

Book Nook: Bowls of Happiness and What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor?

China is a major world culture that has a history that's often not very well known, especially by kids. To introduce children to Chinese culture at an early age, China Institute in America created the “We All Live in the Forbidden City” book series. The books are part of their children’s programming which aims to bridge the Asian culture gap through educational resources and regional workshops.

I had a chance to review two new books. 

Bowls of Happiness (ages 4-8)Created by internationally renowned artists Brian Tse and Alice Mak, this China Institute book teaches children about Chinese artwork and culture and their universal spirit of generosity, love, and respect for nature. The loveable illustrations are coupled with photographs of porcelain art found in the Palace Museum’s collection. Kids learn about how bowls are made and be able to draw their own Bowl of Happiness after reading the story. 

What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? (ages 8+)
Engaging stories take kids through the average life of an emperor and learn about the real people who lived in the palace, including the prince who fought off a rebel invasion, the palace maids who lived in the Inner Court, the emperor who ruled twice, and the emperor who loved crickets. Author Chiu Kwong-chiu is an artist, designer, and professor who explores Chinese traditional visual arts and adopts groundbreaking methods to interpret and promote Chinese art and culture. 

 My older daughter loves art, especially when it ties into other cultures. For her, she learns best with art and pictures, so Bowls of Happiness was a great way for her to learn about a culture and adapt elements of it. What Was It Like is also fun - realistic, well-researched, kid-friendly, yet packed with educational nuggets. These are both good books for learning about Chinese culture in a fun way.

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