As many of you know, I receive a lot of reader mail as well as encounter a lot of questions on multiple Facebook groups/boards on the topic of Chinese for babies/kids.
Recently, someone asked what Chinese books they should read to their four month old baby.
Below is my video response.
For the people who are morally opposed to watching videos, here is the gist:
Stop overthinking it.
Your baby is four months old. They can’t even see color yet. (Or if they can, barely.) They cannot follow plot or understand books.
Remember, Chinese picture books and baby board books are written for adults to read to their children.
That sounds like a super obvious statement – but what that also means is that you need to be literate in Chinese in order to read them. So, if you can’t read Chinese characters fluidly, there is no pinyin or zhuyin to help you out.
If you can read Chinese already then your Chinese is likely good enough to translate baby books and board books on the fly. If that is the case, you do NOT need to buy Chinese baby books. You can buy any book that you can read and then translate into Chinese.
Baby books are not meant to be complex stories. There are no plot twists or gotchas. You should be fine.
If you cannot read Chinese and your spoken Chinese is reasonably fluent, again, you can just translate books as you are reading them to your baby. Again, you do NOT need to buy specific Chinese baby books.
And if you cannot read Chinese and you cannot speak Chinese, then Chinese baby books are completely useless to you.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your four month old is NOT going to become literate staring at a Chinese baby book that you cannot even read to them in Chinese.
That sounds mean, but honestly, I just want to save you the money and the worry.
There are other ways to teach your baby Chinese if you’re not fluent, but that is not my focus today.
If you are fluent or can speak some Chinese, the best thing you can do is speak Chinese to your baby all the time.
Did you know I wrote a book on how to teach your kids Chinese? You can get it on Amazon (affiliate link) and it’s conveniently titled, So You Want Your Kid to Learn Chinese.
It’s full of practical advice, detailed applications, and heavy amounts of snark. Find most of the answers to your questions about how you can get your babies fluent in Chinese.