The history of China that children love to read!

Many people know about the Great Wall of China and have heard the name 'Confucius'. But do they know who started building the Wall, and why? Do they know who Confucius was and what he stood for?

China has a very long history that goes back more than 5,000 years. It offers an endless source of stories that are not well-known in the West. These stories are fascinating, but are often hard to find and hard to read. Not many adults like plowing through dry historical facts – let alone children.

So how do you get your kids to learn more about China's rich history?

Let them read my books! I have rewritten the most well-known tales from Chinese history, so they are fun and easy for children to read. While some stories sound almost like fairytales, they are based on the true lives of famous figures in China's history. Beautiful illustrations bring them to life.

Younger children from 2 to 5 years will love reading the 'Heroes Of China' series. Written in both English and Chinese, they are great first readers or read-aloud stories. A few interesting facts, questions and a map will get them thinking about the story.


Older children from 5 years upwards will enjoy reading the 'Once Upon A Time In China' series. Each book features the life story of a Chinese historical figure. It also contains a list of interesting facts, a quiz and a historical map.


Happy birthday to Confucius!

It is more than 2,500 years ago when Confucius was born, but people still celebrate his birthday. In Taiwan, 28 September is known as Teacher’s Day, and China is also planning to show appreciation to their teachers on the same day.

Every year, many temples in China, Taiwan and other parts of Asia perform a special ceremony to celebrate Confucius’ birthday. It starts with three drum rolls and a procession to the temple. When it arrives, the gates open. Food and drink are placed at the altar as an offering. Traditionally, a pig, cow and goat had to be offered, but nowadays these have been replaced with fruit and other vegetarian options, including look-alike animals made of glutinous rice.

Eight dancers in eight rows, all dressed in traditional robes, perform the so-called Ba Yi dance, accompanied by Chinese instruments. Each dancer holds a bamboo flute, which symbolizes balance, in the left hand and a pheasant tail feather, which symbolizes integrity, in the right hand.

Incense or joss sticks are then lit, which is followed by speeches. At the end of the ceremony, people say prayers and burn spirit money. Not long after that, the gates of the temple close again.

On this day, long lines form outside the temple as students try to get a piece of a special rice cake, known as wisdom cake, which they hope will bring them luck in their studies.

To find out more about the life and ideas of Confucius, China’s ‘First Teacher’, read my books The Wise Teacher Of China (for children 2-5 years) and The King Without A Throne (6-12 years).

Why the Hungry Ghost Festival is the Chinese Halloween

The seventh month on the Chinese lunar calendar is known as the Ghost Month. That is when the gates of hell open, and restless spirits are free to roam the earth for food and entertainment. To appease the ghosts and ward off bad luck, people offer prayers and food, and burn paper items. Not surprisingly, this month is a bad time for travel, weddings, or starting a new business. 

In the middle of the Ghost Month—this year on September 5—the Hungry Ghost Festival, or Zhōngyuán Jié (中元节) is held. As this is the most important day of the month, people burn incense, fake money, and material items made of paper, such as clothes, cars, and even houses for ghosts and ancestors to use in the afterlife. 

They also leave food out to satisfy the the hungry ghosts’ appetite and hold live performances, like Chinese opera, to entertain them. The front row seats are always empty—they are reserved for the ghosts. Two weeks after the festival, people float water lanterns to direct the spirits back to the underworld.

The origins of the festival are unclear. According to one story, a student of the Buddha called Mulian tried to save his mother from the depths of the underworld. The Buddha told him to give food offerings to the ghosts to keep them from stealing his mother’s food. In another version of the story, Mulian and the other students prayed and meditated until his mother was released on the 15th day of the Ghost Month. 

Happy Chinese Valentine's Day!

On August 28 it is Chinese Valentine’s Day, or the Qixi Festival (七夕節). It is also known as the Double Seventh Day, as it falls on the seventh day of the seventh month on the Chinese lunar calendar.

The festival originates from a legend about two lovers, a weaver girl and a cowherd. Many versions of this story exist, but according to one of them, their love was forbidden because the girl was really a fairy from heaven and the cowherd only a mere mortal. That is why they were banished to opposite sides of the river of stars (or the Milky Way).

Once a year, on Double Seventh Day, a flock of magpies would form a bridge to reunite the lovers for a day. Traditionally, women would show off their weaving and sewing skills on the day of this festival. However, young Chinese people today prefer to celebrate the Western Valentine’s Day in February.