Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dumpling Days

Dumpling Days by Grace Lin is based on the author's experiences in Taiwan as a child and as an adult.  In the story, Pacy Lin is the daughter of two immigrants from Taiwan.  She has never learned Chinese, but now her family is traveling to Taiwan for the entire summer!  Initially, worried about how she will fit in, Pacy learns about her Chinese heretiage and discovers what it means to be Chinese-American.

I highly recommend reading this book with your young children.  It is filled with information on what to expect when visiting Taiwan (or China) from learning that the ice cream truck song might not mean what you think to discovering the 101 building.  My children and I read through this together (a chapter or two a week) before our summer-long trip to Taiwan and it has really helped my kids talk about some of the things they had been worried about.  It also helped us create a list of things we wanted to do while in Taiwan, like eat soup dumplings!

No matter whether your family speaks Chinese or only English and no matter whether your children have never been to Taiwan/China or if they've only been a few times, this is a great book for kids in
kindergarten through 5th grade.

For more information, please visit the author's website at


  1. hello panda mom. I am Sajida from Malaysia. I love your passion that makes you succeed to teach a new language to your kids!

    Can you help me? Can you make a conclusion about the tips on how to teach our children the language that we ourselves don't use it but we want them to know it. Besides learning the language on our own, what else can we do? Thanks panda mom!

    1. Hi Sajida,

      Every family is different regarding their goals for learning Chinese. Once you have your goals clearly laid out, think about how much time you are willing to invest. The more time your children hear the language and see it being used (spoken or written) the more likely they will be to absorb it. I would recommend you do some research regarding the resources available in your community: is there a Confucius Institute nearby, a university that has a family/children's class, a neighbor that would be interested in teaching, etc. What about movies with Chinese audio? These can be bought online if they are not sold in a store nearby.

      However, the strongest determining factor to whether your children will learn is how much time their primary caregivers spend learning, teaching, and using the language. Remember, you don't need to start off speaking entire sentences in Chinese. Lean a few words and use them when talking. For example, "What do we need to buy at the store? 牛奶(milk), bread, and rice."

      Please, feel free to tell me more about your situation; I will try to answer your question with more specifics.

  2. Hi Panda Mom, Aren't Grace Lin's books the best? I love the whole Year of the Dog, Year of the Rat series. I read them with my daughter when she was in 1st grade. They provided so much good material for discussion. Have you checked out Starry River of the Sky? We love this one too--more of a fantasy/adventure but beautiful writing.

    1. Thank you for the book suggestion. I have to check it out!