Tag: chinese library

Case Study:  Organizing an Unfamiliar Chinese Book Collection

I can’t resist the call of a book collection.  So I talked Dots into letting me reorganize her Chinese books.

She thinks I’m helping her.  But really, I get to check out books I would otherwise not know about.  As I learned during our session, she buys a lot of books through books.com.tw 博客來, many I’ve never heard off and several I’ve been wanting to check out but can’t bear to buy because my kids are mostly out of the picture book stage.

Organizing Dots’ books comes with two unique challenges.  One, I can’t wait till she buys more bookshelves since I am just visiting.  This means that I couldn’t really do a complete reorganization of her books.  Two, I was unfamiliar with her collection.

But, I’m pleased with what we managed to do in a few hours.

We started by gathering most of the books together.  Her English and Chinese books were mixed together over 7 shelves, 5 in the living room and 2 in the bedroom.


Case Study: Organizing A Large Chinese Library Collection

This is part of my series on building A Chinese Library.   For a complete list of posts, see here.

Last year, I re-organized Mandarin Mama’s Library.    This year, I helped Fleur organize the 8+ boxes of books elfe brought back from Taiwan.  We’re not quite done yet, but at least the books are mostly on the shelves.  She has a substantially larger book collection, probably 500+ books and tons of magazine.


I wrote a super long post, but really the process is the same, with 1 or 2 tweaks.   So instead I’m going to just modify the original “recipe” and list them here, point out some of the things we did differently, and post tons of pics.  Because, when the Chinese books are all lined up along a wall, it’s so pretty! (more…)

Where to Buy DVDs in Taiwan

This is part of my series on Building A Chinese Library for the Kids.  My previous post was on Where to Buy Books in Taiwan.

No trip to Taiwan is complete without a DVD shopping spree.   Since my last shopping spree three years ago I’ve discovered YouTube.  But I find that it is sadly not a source of Disney movies or non-fiction DVDs.   (However, if you know where to look, websites abound that lets you watch these online!)

Our trip down the rabbit hole of DVD purchase started out innocently enough, first we went to Costo and found some interesting DVDs.  Then, thanks to Dr. Miyazaki’s request to find some good marine-life related DVDs, we went to stores in Electronic shopping district.  Eventually, I ended up going all over Taipei to look for DVDs for friends.

In any case, just like the bookstores, I did not go to every DVD store in Taipei.  But after a few, we kind of saw the pattern in what’s carried in stock and didn’t seek out new ones.


Where to Buy Books in Taiwan

This is part of my series on Building Your Chinese Library.  Check out my previous, related post on All About Buying Books in Taiwan.

It’s T-6 and seriously, NO MORE Book Buying.  Right now, it’s looking like my books may barely fit into my allowed luggage.

This means I can finally come out of blog rest and detail all the bookstores I visited, both physically and virtually.  Obviously I didn’t visit all the bookstores in Taipei.   But we did go back to the used ones multiple times.  After awhile, patterns emerged and there was no reason to go discover more stores during our trip.

You  may also want to check out the first general overview post I wrote about buying books in Taiwan a year ago.  This post just goes into more details about the individual bookstores.

This post is by no end an exhaustive list of all the bookstores in Taiwan, nor a list of the cheapest bookstores.  You can always be looking for that cheaper bookstore.  As I mentioned in my overview post, a super good deal is 65% of list price.  The cheapest option is easy to find online if you can pay by Cash/ATM Transfer, then carry the books back yourself.  This option is only available for people with relatives in Taiwan or people who go back often.  For me, I try to find stores that accept US credit cards and is wiling to ship to me in the US.

Since it’s the end of the year and my Dramabeans kdrama year-end reviews are fresh on my mind, I’m going to do something similar, give each bookstore a little verdict.

Note:  In Taiwan, prices are talked about as a % of list price, rather than % off.  So 70% list is really 30% off.


How to Organize Your Chinese Library

This is part of my series on building A Chinese Library.  I know I haven’t really talked about picture books or other types of books yet, but I recently got to reorganize a library and couldn’t resist taking a few pictures.  I was so giddy that I got to organize a library!

When I ordered a bunch of books for Mandarin Mama‘s Chinese library over the summer, I knew I would be itching to help her organize it.  Because, you know, I have to be able to browse and find books, even at other people’s houses.

Thankfully, she asked me to the minute she returned from Taiwan with her boxes of books.  If a home library collection gets big enough, and the goal is to methodically lead the children to learn to read, it’s a good idea to organize the library.

How We Re-Organized Her Books

Here is her bookshelf before we started.  This is the result of a semester of group ordering several boxes of books.  She completed her library collection, for now, over the summer.  Other than missing some books in Level 4, her library collection puts her up to 4th grade, if not 5th.

Right now, there are 1-3 sets for each reading level.  They can be added to when the child needs more books of that level.  Otherwise, I usually only suggest 1-2 sets per level to friends.  You never quite know how fast they’ll go through a level.


Chinese Reading Levels

I keep searching for my post of Chinese Reading Levels whenever I try to determine Thumper’s reading level.  Looking through the archives, it seems that I got confused by the levels myself and mislabeled them for awhile.  So spent some time today to re-research and re-organize.

The levels are a combo of the often cited reading levels articles by Tian Xia Magazine 天下 and what I saw in the jacket cover of the books by 東雨文化 Kingin Publishing.

Below, I present my Chinese Reading Levels.

Updated 12/18/2017: I added my thought of equivalent grade level for easier reference.  If you look at the Taiwanese recommended reading age for these books, they encompass a very wide range (bridging books go up to 10 year old!).  But I’ve shortened this range to “at grade level” instead, as a 10 year old reading a 5000 character bridging book is probably a bit behind.  Or maybe the book is still of interest to a 10 year old, but at grade level they probably could be reading something else. 

With this system, the child will have mostly finished Reading 123 series by 2nd grade level, which is my marker for being at “grade level” to Taiwan.  Keeping in mind many Taiwanese kids will probably surpass this level in in 2nd grade, just like in the U.S. with kids reading English books. 

You can also ignore the lexile level.  It’s for my own reference for the online Chinese books catalogue I’m building.


All About Buying Books from Taiwan

I haven’t really finished all the other planned posts in my series on Building a Chinese Library for the Kids.  But I’ve been coordinating so many group book buys and people are going back to Taiwan for the summer and buying books, I really want to document all the things I’ve learned about the book market in Taiwan.

How I Buy Books from Taiwan

I typically buy from online bookstores.  I’ve done this for myself and also for various friends who go back to Taiwan to visit for short periods.  Typically, I come up with a book list for them, purchase them through srbook.com.tw, and ask for it to be shipped to the Taiwanese address of where I (or my friend) are staying.

Why this bookstore?  Because there are only so many low price bookstores online that will actually accept a US credit card.  Many bookstores accept credit cards, but only Taiwan issue ones.  Even fewer will work with me on strange demands (read on).  This bookstore has been the only one for me that fulfilled both criteria.

For all the books I buy, I contact the bookseller directly and ask if they’re willing to put the books in boxes, maximum 20kg each.  Sometimes I give the book list to the vendor by a list of priority; as in, stuff as many books as you can in there in this order till you make 20kg.


Chinese Bridging Books 橋樑書

Bridging Books
This is Part 6 of my Building a Chinese Library for the Kids series.  In Parts 1-5, I gave some background on children’s books and how we pick them, and did a survey of local libraries and publishers and Taiwanese authors and started describing my Board Book and Picture Book Collection.  

This post is split into two, the next part on Bridging books is actually Books for Lower Elementary, Part 1.

Some Background

In this research paper on Reading 123 閱讀123 (p. 23), they say that an Eslite magazine started the term 橋樑書 by borrowing the English term Bridging Books, which is used to describe Early Readers (also known as Easy Readers, Leveled Readers) and Chapter books.  Even more interesting to me, chapter books, which is the bridge between early readers and children’s fiction (3rd+ grade level) was introduced in the 1980’s!


Chinese Books for Lower Elementary Kids 中低級橋樑書, Part 1

This is Part 7 of my Building a Chinese Library for the Kids series.  

As I mentioned in my last post, which might not have been published yet as I’m jumping around, Taiwanese publishers seem to call all non-picture books that have illustrations as Bridging Books.  Since this means these books cover a wide range of reading level, I decided to put Early Readers (Level 1) in the last post, and Chapter Books (Level 2-4) in this post.  This will put you up to 4th grade.  Even though Chapter Books are considered Bridging books too, to me, you kind of need a certain level of reading skill to start reading these longer books.

To recap, the levels, taken from the 閱讀123 (Reading 123) series are:

  • Level 1: <5K characters.  Around 64 pages.  Picture to text ratio 1:1
  • Level 2: 5k-10k characters.  Around 128 pages.  Picture to text ratio 1:2 (1st-2nd grade)
  • Level 3: 10k-20k characters.  Only some illustrations.   (1st-2nd grade)
  • Level 4: 20k-40k.  Few illustrations  (3rd-4th)
  • Level 5: 40k+?


Chinese Board Books 翻翻書 : Our Collection and Recommendations

Board Books
This is Part 4 of my Building a Chinese Library for the Kids series.  In Parts 1-3, I gave some background on children’s books and how we pick them, and did a survey of local libraries and publishers and Taiwanese authors.

If you look at the photo of our Chinese library (as of Aug 2015), you will see that board books takes up a very, very, very, small section of our library.  It basically takes up right 1/4 space on shelf #4.

In my faulty memory, I did not read to either kids too much, especially Astroboy, before they were 1 (or was it 2?).   By the end of the day, I just wanted to go to bed.  They only seem to have 5 minute attention spans when it comes to reading.  Plus it was so easy to rip the precious Chinese picture books that traveled 3000 miles to get here.