Chinese Bridging Books 橋樑書

Bridging Books
This is Part 6 of my Building a Chinese Library for the Kids series.  In Parts 1-5, I gave some background on children’s books and how we pick them, and did a survey of local libraries and publishers and Taiwanese authors and started describing my Board Book and Picture Book Collection.  

This post is split into two, the next part on Bridging books is actually Books for Lower Elementary, Part 1.

Some Background

In this research paper on Reading 123 閱讀123 (p. 23), they say that an Eslite magazine started the term 橋樑書 by borrowing the English term Bridging Books, which is used to describe Early Readers (also known as Easy Readers, Leveled Readers) and Chapter books.  Even more interesting to me, chapter books, which is the bridge between early readers and children’s fiction (3rd+ grade level) was introduced in the 1980’s!

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Chinese Books for Lower Elementary Kids 中低級橋樑書, Part 1

This is Part 7 of my Building a Chinese Library for the Kids series.  

As I mentioned in my last post, which might not have been published yet as I’m jumping around, Taiwanese publishers seem to call all non-picture books that have illustrations as Bridging Books.  Since this means these books cover a wide range of reading level, I decided to put Early Readers (Level 1) in the last post, and Chapter Books (Level 2-4) in this post.  This will put you up to 4th grade.  Even though Chapter Books are considered Bridging books too, to me, you kind of need a certain level of reading skill to start reading these longer books.

To recap, the levels, taken from the 閱讀123 (Reading 123) series are:

  • Level 1: <5K characters.  Around 64 pages.  Picture to text ratio 1:1
  • Level 2: 5k-10k characters.  Around 128 pages.  Picture to text ratio 1:2 (1st-2nd grade)
  • Level 3: 10k-20k characters.  Only some illustrations.   (1st-2nd grade)
  • Level 4: 20k-40k.  Few illustrations  (3rd-4th)
  • Level 5: 40k+?

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Chinese Board Books 翻翻書 : Our Collection and Recommendations

Board Books
This is Part 4 of my Building a Chinese Library for the Kids series.  In Parts 1-3, I gave some background on children’s books and how we pick them, and did a survey of local libraries and publishers and Taiwanese authors.

If you look at the photo of our Chinese library (as of Aug 2015), you will see that board books takes up a very, very, very, small section of our library.  It basically takes up right 1/4 space on shelf #4.

In my faulty memory, I did not read to either kids too much, especially Astroboy, before they were 1 (or was it 2?).   By the end of the day, I just wanted to go to bed.  They only seem to have 5 minute attention spans when it comes to reading.  Plus it was so easy to rip the precious Chinese picture books that traveled 3000 miles to get here.

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Survey of Some Famous Taiwanese Publishers and Authors

This is Part 3 of my Building a Chinese Library for the Kids series.  In Parts 1 and 2, I gave some background on Chinese children’s books and how I picked them, as well as a survey of local libraries as a place to check out some books you may want to buy.

One of the most common questions I see asked on FB groups is,

I’m going back to Taiwan to buy some books for my xx year old child, do you have recommendations on what to get?”  

I’m always tempted to say, “It depends.  Tell me the family background, child’s age, Chinese level…..”  Not an answer I would have liked to see myself.

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Survey of Local Libraries’ Chinese Collection

Arcadia Library

Arcadia Library

This is Part 2 of my Building a Chinese Library for the Kids series.  In Part 1, I talked about the different types of Chinese books and which books I choose to buy vs just borrowing from the library.

I have really fond memories of my mother dropping me off at the local library every weekend for 2 hours and browsing both English and Chinese books.  If it were possible, borrowing Chinese books is the way to go.  It’s more economical for everyone.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned in my post on the types of books I like to buy, our local libraries don’t typically have books that fulfill my criteria.  They especially don’t have a lot of the newly published, high on best sellers list, books.

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Building A Chinese Library for the Kids

Now that both kids are reading, suddenly it seems that my Chinese Collection is no longer enough so meet their needs.   I’ve been crossing my eyes the last few nights trying to find more level-appropriate books for the children.  I think it’s time to document what we have in our library, what I really love and recommend, and what I’m looking to buy for my own reference.  As much as I love Evernote, it’s hard to wade through months of bookmarks at a time.

I was all set to start listing books I really like and recommend, but then remembered where I was when I started buying books for Thumper, 8 years ago.  I had no idea that children’s books are a field in itself.  There’s also the issue that building a Chinese library for kids in the US is a difficult task.  So this post is turning into a series of posts instead.

I will start with a background on the books (this post), then talk about local and not so local libraries, some popular authors and publishers if you had a limited time to find books, then basically go shelf by shelf, category by category, in my current collection,  Maybe end with where and how to buy books for the budget conscious.

Before I start, I want to advocate for building a Chinese Home Library for the kids.  Articles abound when you Google why it’s good to have a home library.  I’ve started using my local library as a resource when I realized that I obviously cannot buy everything under the sun, it’s too expensive.  But, nothing beats having books available when your child has a question about the world and you can go to your home library to look up the answer, in Chinese!  Or just a variety of books available to them when they’re bored at home with nothing to do.

[Updated 2/5/16] Here are the posts in this series so far:

  1. Background on types of Chinese books and How to Choose Them
  2. Survey of Local Libraries’ Chinese Collection
  3. Survey of Some Famous Taiwanese Publishers and Authors
  4. Chinese Board Books 翻翻書
  5. Chinese Picture Books (0-6)
  6. Chinese Books for Beginning Readers 橋樑書 (K-1st)
  7. Chinese Books for Lower Elementary Kids 中低級橋樑書, Part 1 (1st-3rd)
  8. Check out the Chinese Books menu link, where I keep a list of books and index of this series.

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