Books About Chinese Culture - Student Resources

Books About Chinese Culture

Elementary kids outside

Taken from the Kumon Recommended Reading List, this collection of books possesses strong literary merit and provides its readers with a glimpse into Chinese culture. The following list of titles showcases varied aspects of Chinese culture as experienced through a central character.


  1. The Story of Ping by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Weise

Readers between 1st and 3rd grades

The Story of Ping is about an adventurous duck and takes place on the Yangtze River in China. Ranked in the top 10 for multicultural titles for children on the goodreads website, this story is also listed on the National Education Association’s list for “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.”


  1. Lon Po Po retold by Ed Young

Readers between 1st and 3rd grades

Lon Po Po is a known classic that won the 1990 Caldecott Medal. The story is a Chinese version of the classic children’s fable “Little Red Riding Hood”. Readers may also notice a similarity to “The Three Little Pigs.” It is given as a text exemplar for teachers to use along with the Common Core State Standards.


  1. The Cable Car and the Dragon by Herb Caen

Readers between 1st and 3rd grades

This whimsical tale, accompanied by fun illustrations, is about Charlie the cable car and his passenger (also the narrator) who decide to take an unplanned detour through San Francisco’s Chinese New Year celebration. These two take off on an exciting but almost disastrous adventure through the City by the Bay.


  1. The Empty Pot by Demi

Readers between 2nd to 4th grades

A long time ago in China there was a boy named Ping who loved flowers. When Ping is the only child in China to admit that he could not grow a flower from the seeds distributed by the Emperor, he is rewarded for his honesty. This well-illustrated folktale is also a great book to read aloud to preschoolers. It teaches them the value of telling the truth.


  1. Dragonwings by Laurence Yep

Readers between 5th and 7th grades

A winner of many awards and a Newbery Honor title, this novel does not shy away from the harsh realities of life for Chinese-Americans in early 20th century California; however, it is also uplifting in its depiction of their determination to make dreams come true. It is given as a text exemplar for teachers to use along with the Common Core State Standards.