China Unit: Books, Books! A Huge List of Children’s Books

When we delve into a new unit, I search high and low for a wide variety of books. Not only do I want non-fiction books, but I also want books that bring the topic alive… and stories and novels are a wonderful way to do that.  This is a long (and probably incomplete!) list of the books we’ve used and are using in our China unit.

We’ve read a number of wonderful children’s books. My kids (even my 10 year old) enjoys listening to picture books.  I usually read them before hand and tie them into whatever topics we are studying. So for example, when we were reading and learning about the Shang dynasty and the Oracle bones, we read several picture books that were about Chinese calligraphy. Then we looked at how Chinese script evolved – and practiced writing some Chinese characters.

We read a novel together called Bound, which is a Chinese Cinderella story (Did you know that the Cinderella stories of China pre-date the European stories by more than a thousand years?!!). We all loved, loved, loved that… and it touches on some great themes that we’ve come back to again and again… living in a cave home, ancestor worship, Chinese medicine, foot-binding and more.

We also read a Newbery Award winning novel called Where the Mountain Meets the Moon aloud together. (Actually, Grams finished reading it with the kids when I became so incredibly sensitive to sound/my own voice.)  The kids absolutely loved it (and so did my friend’s two kids who read it on their own).  DD said it was awesome, awesome! (Yes, two awesomes!!)

Shang, Zhou, Qin Dynasties

  • The Story of Ancient China by Suzanne Strauss Art (comprehensive history of China through the Tang Dynasty. Great spine for grades 4-8) This book is a wonderful, rich and full of details about Chinese history. Great read-aloud for my 3rd and 5th grade. Would be great for Middle School/early High School independently.
  • Story of the World Vol 1 has a few relevant chapters, but we use it because we have it on hand. I wouldn’t recommend getting the book JUST for a unit on China.
  • Kingfisher History Encyclopedia Good, but not a great source of history.
  • Myths and Civilization of the Ancient Chinese
  • The Gods and Goddesses of Ancient China
  • Long is a Dragon: Chinese Writing for Children Terrific introduction to calligraphy.
  • Liu and the Bird: A journey in Chinese Calligraphy Introduces Chinese characters
  • Chinese Brush Painting
  • Liang and the Magic Paintbrush (Old folktale by Demi)
  • Brush of the Gods (picture book about the legendary painter Daozi, China’s greatest painter)
  • The Dragon’s Robe (tale about invading armies at the Great Wall of China. Gorgeous Illustrations)
  • Confucius books (Zhou Dynasty – from the library)


Other Books in our Unit

  • A Grain of Rice – Set in China, a clever peasant tries to win the hand of the princess. Gr 3-4 The kids read this independently.
  • Bound: A Chinese Cinderella Novel. We read this together. It is about a girl whose foot is bound and her step sister who is forced to serve her. A novel that we read aloud together. Highly recommended.
  • Yeh-Shen A Cinderella Story from China. This is a similar story to Bound. If you have the time, I recommend reading Bound, but this is terrific picture book.
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – Novel.  We read this novel together. Highly recommended.  DD says, “It’s awesome, awesome!!”

Other Books in our Unit

  • The Magical Monkey King: Mischief in Heaven
  • Chin Yu Min and the Giner Cat – Picture book
  • Lon Po Po – A Red Riding Hood story from China
  • Chinese Fables: The Dragon Slayer and Other Timeless Tales of Wisdom – 19 Stories, some from Ancient China.
  • The Seven Chinese Sisters – Picture book
  • Little Monk and the Matins: A Bug, A Boy, and the Birth of a Kung Fu Legend
  • The Dragon’s Tale and other Animal Fables of the Chinese Zodiac

Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing Dynasties

  • China’s Later Dynasties by Suzanne Strauss Art (comprehensive history of China through the Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing Dynasties. Great spine for grades 4-8)
  • The Legend of Mu Lan a Heroine of Ancient China (Song Dynasty)
  • Marco Polo Books (Yuan Dynasty)
    • Marco Polo (by Demi)
    • Marco Polo A Journey Through China (Fiona MacDonald)
    • The Adventures of Marco Polo (Russell Freedman)

You can print out these lists by clicking on the link below:

The next posts about our China unit (coming next week) will share a bit more about the activities we’ve done as we’ve learned about Ancient China. Plus, I have some notebook pages I’ll be sharing as well.

Til then, I hope to see you over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page!

Have a great day!


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  1. [...] Are you and your children studying China this semester?  If so, make sure you head over to The Homeschool Den at and browse through the huge list of children’s book for your China Unit Study! [...]

  2. [...] addition to the long list I shared with you of children’s fiction and non-fiction books about China, we are using the Story of Ancient China by Suzanne Strauss Art as our spine. It’s a [...]

  3. by Chinese Brush Painting Lesson | The Homeschool Den

    On April 29, 2014 at 1:21 pm

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