Monday, March 14, 2011

Win A Copy Of Grace Lin's "Where The Mountain Meets The Moon"

March is National Reading Month. ChinaSprout is celebrating by giving you free shipping on all book purchases through March 20th. We are also giving away a copy of Grace Lin's book, "Where The Mountain Meets The Moon."

Grace is one of my favorite authors for young children. Her simple and colorful illustrations remind me of Chinese folk paintings. Plus, her stories really capture what it is like to grow up Asian in a Western country. ChinaSprout was fortunate enough to work with Grace on our "One Year In Beijing" book. Her beautiful illustrations take me back to many of my own experiences growing up in Beijing -- the excitement of Lantern Festival, visiting Yellow Mountain, eating delicious candied haws, families gathering for the holidays and studying very hard in school.

There are three ways that you can enter to win the "Where The Mountain Meets The Moon" book:
  1. Post your favorite Grace Lin book title below in the response section of this blog;
  2. Post your favorite Grace Lin book title on our Facebook Page; and
  3. Post your favorite Grace Lin book title on Twitter (you must include @ChinaSprout in your post).
You can enter up to three times -- one entry for each platform (our blog, our Facebook Page and via Twitter). Entries will be accepted starting at midnight, March 14 and the deadline for entry is midnight, March 21, 2011. The entries will be catalogued by entry date and time, and the winner will be chosen via a random number generator software program. The winner will be chosen within 2 days of the entry date deadline. The winner must respond within 5 days of receiving notice, or the entry will be forfeited, and another winner will be selected. You must live in the United States or Canada and be 18+ to enter. Read the Official Giveaway Rules for further guidelines.

Good luck, and happy reading!


Monday, March 07, 2011

The Challenges of Race in Transracial Adoption

Photo by grapesmc
Adoptive parents in trans-racial families have additional challenges to parenting biological children. In addition to the usual childhood struggles, we must find ways to support and guide our children through issues involving not only adoption, but race, as well. Helping my children to identify themselves as Chinese was something that I believed I was doing pretty well.

We discuss our children's heritage and culture regularly. It is a deeply ingrained part of our lives. We are active members of Families With Children From China. We attend Jane Brown lectures and playshops. We have watched and discussed "Adopted the Movie" together numerous times. And, over the years, we have engaged in any number of activities and conversations in an effort to promote racial awareness within our girls.

Imagine my surprise when my precocious 8 year old asked me how our neighbors knew that she was Chinese after they dropped off some Chinese New Year decorations that they had purchased in Singapore. Confused, I pursued this question with her a little more, and come to find out, she visually identifies herself with her Caucasian brunette friend. My personal lesson here is that no matter how well-adjusted you think your kids are, think again.

Living in Los Angeles, our friends came from extremely diverse backgrounds and the girls' school could be called 'a little United Nations.' Since moving to the Midwest, and more specifically the suburban Midwest, that diversity is harder to come by. While our youngest daughter is Chinese, and her best friend is African American, she is evidently still self-identifying as white.

No matter how much we love our kids, and no matter how hard we try to introduce them to their culture, the reality is that my husband and I are white, and that cultural color rubs off on our girls. In fact, it is undeniably their primary make-up. We often laugh together about nature vs. nurture moments with our girls. However, those nurture traits are what point up the difference between being raised white and being raised Chinese. There is nothing that I can do to give my transracially adopted children the direct experience of being raised Chinese. It is an ability unique to Chinese parents.

Jana Wolff wrote a thoughtful piece on this subject for Adoptive Families magazine entitled 'Raising a Child of Another Race." In the article, she highlights a number of responsibilities that adoptive parents of different-race children must take in raising their children including:

o interacting with people of your child's race
o living in multicultural neighborhoods
o finding same race mentors and role models for your child
o advocating for unbiased learning materials
o confronting racism openly
o cooking and eating ethnic dishes
o providing special maintenance to hair and skin
o celebrating all cultures
o taking part in homeland tours and culture camps
o creating a positive cultural environment at home

I've been eyeing Outsiders Within and the Pieces of Me workbook for the girls, and now they take special priority.

I'm also starting to search for blogs by adult adoptees that will help me to better understand this struggle. So far, two stand-outs include:
  • My Mind on Paper - This blog is written by Kevin Hofmann, an African American man adopted by white parents in the 1960s. He now lectures on the subject of transracial adoption. His posts are thoughtful and insightful. As evidenced by his most recent post where he recalls a childhood relationship, his learning on the subject is on-going.
  • Ethnically Incorrect Daughter - Blogger Sumeia Williams offers sometimes heartbreaking stories on her struggles to self-identify, a theme which is not uncommon in transracial adoption circles.

Do you believe that race or cultural identification is important? If so, what are you doing to help your children learn about their cultural heritage and ultimately embrace who they are?


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Congratulations! You Won ChinaSprout's Red Envelope Sweepstakes!

Thanks to everyone who entered the ChinaSprout Red Envelope Sweepstakes. We used a random drawing to determine the winner. We are pleased to announce that Alfredia Bowers of Georgia was the winning entry. Congratulations, Alfredia, and Happy New Year!



Tuesday, February 01, 2011

How to Make an Origami Rabbit

We're experiencing yet another winter storm, and the kids are home from school today. This has me searching for things to keep them busy.  With the Year of the Rabbit only two days away, I went looking for projects related to Chinese New Year and found some fun rabbit origami projects.  Who knew that there are so many different ways to make origami rabbits?  The projects range from easy to difficult and are great for sharing in a classroom or at a Chinese New Year party (or, in our case, for doing when you're snowbound).

If your children find themselves enjoying creating origami rabbits and are looking for more projects, ChinaSprout carries a great selection of origami paper and kits as well as  origami books for all ages.

Have fun watching these fun origami videos. And, if you create any of them yourself, please be sure to share pictures! We would love to see your Year of the Rabbit bunnies!

Easy Origami Bunny Face

Make an Origami Rabbit

How to Make an Origami Inflatable Bunny

How to Make an Origami Jumping Rabbit


Monday, January 31, 2011

Chinese New Year Crafts For Kids

Using crafts is always a fun way to engage kids in learning about Chinese New Year. While their hands are busy creating brightly-colored paper confections, you can tell them about the story of Nian, the Kitchen God, or why dumplings and noodles are a favorite food served at Chinese New Year dinners.

There are many great crafts for Chinese New Year, and ChinaSprout is pleased to carry a number of really great craft books for the holiday.

Paper Crafts for Chinese New Year - Written by puppeteer and storyteller, Randel McGee, this children's craft book mixes information about the history and traditions of the holiday with eight related crafts. Enlargeable patterns make individualizing the projects easy. Chinese New Year craft projects include dragon puppets, red envelopes, shadow puppets, Chinese lanterns, firecrackers, and more. This book is perfect for children 6 and up, but can be used for younger children if they have adult support with cutting.

Chinese New Year for Kids - This workbook for both parents and teachers can be used at home or in the classroom. Published by ChinaSprout, the 30-page, full color book is practically a child's handbook for the holiday. Explanations of Chinese New Year, the Chinese New Year calendar, the importance of ancestors in China, as well as ways the Chinese celebrate the holiday are accompanied by hands-on crafts, games and activities. Children will learn to make dragon puppets, red envelopes and paper lanterns. They will also participate in a lion dance and dragon parade.  Pair this with ChinaSprout's Chinese New Year Packets, and you have everything you need to share the holiday with a classroom or create a Chinese New Year party.

Chinese New Year Crafts - The combination of detailed instructions on the left pages with step-by-step photographs on the right create an easy-to-follow format.  This 32-page book features 10 crafts including a dragon streamer puppet, a ribbon lantern, Chinese zodiac pictures, and more. The introduction includes some brief information about the holiday.  Chinese New Year Crafts is a geared toward kindergarten through fifth grade students, though it will be more appealing to younger children.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Favorite Chinese New Year Books for Kids

The Chinese New Year is quickly approaching on February 3. This year, we say goodbye to the Year of the Tiger, and welcome the Year of the Rabbit. Chinese New Year is the perfect time to introduce children to Chinese culture. Although a good percentage of the world celebrates the holiday, it is a uniquely exciting celebration to many kids.

Whether you are sharing the holiday with a classroom or at home, there are many great ways to present Chinese New Year for kids. Even if you don't know a lot about the holiday, there are many resources available that you can use either to learn about Chinese New Year or as a teaching resource. Books are a great tool because they can be read together or independently. Following are some of ChinaSprout's best-selling Chinese New Year books:

Kitchen GodKitchen God - According to Chinese legend, the Kitchen God watches over families throughout the year. Just before the New Year, he travels to heaven to report on the family's activities to the Jade Emperor. This beautifully illustrated picture book is full of fun and mischief. Children will relate as the story unfolds about a family and their misbehavior, which occurs under the watchful eye of the Kitchen God.

The Year of the Rabbit: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac - This is the sixth in a planned 12-book series that introduces children to the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Oliver Chin introduces young readers to the characteristics of each zodiac animal through lively stories accompanied by exuberant illustrations. The Year of the Rabbit follows the escapades of Rosie, a long-eared hare with a nose for adventure. Along the way, she meets the boy Jai and other animals from the Chinese lunar calendar. By story's end, Rosie discovers that her unique traits serve her well.

Elementary School
Celebrate Chinese New Year with Fireworks, Dragons and Lanterns - This vibrant and informative book is part of National Geographic's "Holidays Around the World" series. It is filled with concise, but informative details about many aspects of the Chinese holiday, including giving lucky red envelopes, the Chinese zodiac, the importance of the colors red and gold in the Chinese culture, the use of couplets, lion dancers, dragons, and more. Celebrate Chinese New Year also includes a section on crafts and recipes that ties the learning in with more hands-on fun.

Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragonboats - This is a long-time favorite book of teachers and families, alike. This beautifully illustrated book delves deep into the stories, celebrations and customs that surround many Chinese holidays including Chinese New Year, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. Moonbeams is filled with recipes, activities and traditional tales that will engage readers young and old.

Middle School and Junior High
Origins of Chinese Festivals - The fabulous Origins series uses cartoon graphic stories to share history and culture with kids. This book explores all of the major Chinese holidays, including the customs and history behind them. There are 29 stories in all, which will have kids repeating facts that they didn't even realized that they learned because they were having so much fun reading comics.

Chinese New Year - Patricia Bjaaland Welch takes readers on a journey that provides a complete introduction to celebrating the Chinese New Year. She shares insights into holiday origins, greetings, customs, food and more. After reading Chinese New Year, readers will come to understand the meaning behind the various flowers, fruits and symbols that are prominent during this most important Chinese holiday. They will also learn what to expect during the holiday and appropriate ways to interact with others, based on thousands of years of traditions and customs.