Use children’s books to increase your general knowledge Chinese vocabulary

Obtaining a wide-ranging knowledge in a second language can be difficult. While in your mother tongue it may be possible to have discussion on almost any topic, most people have at least a rudimentary knowledge of almost any topic, this is something that is not the case when you are in the learning process of a second language.

Increase your general knowledge in a second language

As we have discussed on previous blog posts about learning Chinese, in some cases maintaining motivation through sticking to topics that interest you might be a good way to quickly increase fluency in your desired knowledge area – but the downside of this is that you will have a restricted vocabulary set until you can catch up in other knowledge areas.

Start in the Childrens’ Section

While geting away from the boring text books is a great idea to increase your general knowledge, knowing where to start can also be a problem. Adult books and magazines might be too daunting and word-heavy at first, so instead start with the children’s section.

Make sure you choose the right children’s books, though. If you don’t you could end up reading fairy tales or something that doesn’t have any value in terms of useful words for adult conversation.

Covers can be deceiving

Consider the cover above. If you scanned too quickly you could assume that this was a boring comic with some cute characters. Though on close inspection we can see that the magazine has the following sections:

為什麼狗的鼻子這麼靈敏?
为什么狗的鼻子这么灵敏?
wèi shé me gǒu de zi zhè me líng mǐn?
Why are dogs noses so sensitive?

眼睛是怎麼看東西的呢?
眼睛是怎么看东西的呢?
yǎn jīng shì zěn me kàn dōng xī de ?
How do our eyes see things?

宇宙是什麼時候誕生的?
宇宙是什么时候诞生的?
zhòu shì shé me shí hòu dàn shēng de?
When was the universe born?

Clearly if you didn’t look closely you would have missed out on a children’s magazine that actually has some interesting topics covered – who couldn’t use learning some Chinese terminology about how the universe was born? 😉

Next time you visit the book shop don’t overlook the childrens’ section, as there just might be some interesting books or magazines there that could help you improve your Chinese ability in general knowledge topics.

What books do you read to increase your general knowledge language ability? Do you read books aimed at children? If so which ones?

For those interested, the magazine cover above is from a Taiwanese publication called 哇!我懂了 (Wow! I understand now!)

5 responses to “Use children’s books to increase your general knowledge Chinese vocabulary

  1. when I was learning Spanish, I figured it was a good idea to read children’s books. Turns out I had bloody little use for the phrase “The giraffe and the elephant went to the market together”

  2. That is a very good point that choose wisely what books to read. I just bought a children’s book about classic Disney stories and even there are lots of usefull vocabulary, there is also lots of things I don’t really need in my daily life. But in the other hand I thought it could be easier to read the storied because I know then already and can guess words more easily.

    1. Even though most children’s books don’t contain vocabthat would be useful in evryday like, I have found some here in Taiwan that are very useful. There are some comics available like explain 成語 idioms which I have found great for flicking through when I am bored of other learning materials.

  3. Hi! I found this site and was just clicking around on random links and I think a lot of the stuff on here is very useful (especially the vocabulary sections). But isn’t “shé me” supposed to be “shén me”? I’m studying Chinese at my university, and that’s how my 老师 writes the Pinyin.

    Keep up the awesome work!

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