Sagebooks Challenge

Author’s Note: Sagebooks HK is sponsoring The Sagebooks Challenge as we chronicle Glow Worm (4) and I going through their series for the first time. I am also guest posting on their Sagebooks HK Blog where I will be providing a time tested tip and a fun activity to help support you and your child as you go through the sets.

Our 11th week learning Sagebooks HK Basic Chinese 500 series with Glow Worm (4) plodded along nicely. It was refreshingly boring and uneventful.


Sagebooks HK Basic Chinese 500 is a series of 5 sets of 5 books that teach your children how to read the top 500 high frequency characters in children’s books. You can find out more here.


I am an ABC/T and speak Mandarin 85% of the time to my four children (8, 6, 4, 1). My husband, Hapa Papa, only speaks English. We homeschool bilingually in Chinese and English and my older two children have already gone through the Sagebooks HK Basic Chinese 500. Glow Worm, (4) currently knows about 50 characters and this is the first time we are going through Sagebooks. He currently splits time between two Chinese preschools for 3 hours a day, 4 days a week.


I was really hopeful we could finally close out Book 1.4. It seemed as if we were in this book forever and progressing super slowly.


I’m relieved we actually made it through Book 1.4. It seemed super slow going, but we (I mean, Glow Worm) did it! We also passed our goal and ended up at 1.5:6 thanks to Glow Worm knowing several of the characters in 1.5 already. (Yay, Chinese preschools!!)


Glow Worm already knew several of the characters at the beginning of Book 1.5 so it’s not like he had a sudden spurt of brilliance or I tried some fancy trick. Most of the work was done in the last year and a half of Chinese preschool! (So you, too, can accomplish this by simply going back in time and hiring someone ELSE to teach your child these characters. This is what I did for my older two children and we went through Sagebooks in a few months as a result.)


Here’s a video of Glow Worm reading (for the bjillionth time) Set 1 Book 4 Lesson 17. If you have patience, you could check out the different videos of him reading this same lesson and see if he’s improved. (I’m not sure he has.)

Here’s a video of Glow Worm reading (also for the bjillionth time) Set 1 Book 4 Lesson 18.


Whenever we finish a book, Glow Worm is reluctant to move on because he seems to find starting over a new book somewhat intimidating. However, he was super happy that he already knew a few of the characters in Book 1.5 so it helped a lot. He also is having difficulty recalling the later characters in 1.4 (which makes sense because he’s had less time to review them) and I suspect that it will be easier once he reviews this book for a few weeks as we plod through 1.5.

Glow Worm is also having trouble with two more abstract characters: 就/jiu4/with regard to/ and 把/ba3/hold, grasp, handle/. I suspect these particular words will take a few weeks before he

Some Observations

One thing I was reminded of this week: if Glow Worm is sad or not in the emotional space to read, it’s best not to push it.

He was prepping for a belt test at kungfu and after he finished his form, the sifu said that he did well but went too fast. My little boy is very sensitive and LOVES kungfu so this small critique caused him to sob in class. It was so sad for me to stand on the sidelines and see him cry and try so hard to self soothe. Even after class, he was still feeling sensitive about it so we spent most of the time cuddling.

Glow Worm was a good sport about learning a few new characters, but I could tell his heart wasn’t into it because he was still smarting from kungfu. I decided it was better to have my son feel loved than to force more review.

He also finally remembered 想/xiang3/think/ even though he currently says the wrong thing first, then says, “想一想/xiang3 yi4 xiang3/think about it/” because it is the catchphrase of the Chinese Science Show the kids like to watch. It’s so fun to see how his brain makes connections!

Sagebooks Challenge Application

Is this your first week joining us? If so, it’s not too late. Just jump in and start with us. There’s no set pace so you choose what is best for you and your family.

I also write weekly activities on the Sagebooks HK Blog and do daily accountability posts on the Sagebooks HK Parent Support Facebook Group. Come join us!

See you all next week.

* I refer to the Sagebooks in this formula: Set#.Book#:Chapter#. So, if I am referring to the first set, book 3, and characters 14-16, it looks like: Book 1.3:14-16.