Book+CD Review: Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes

We’ve shared our enthusiasm for Speak and Sing Chinese with Mei Mei, but while Mei Mei wins top points for enthusiasm, her production values leave a bit to be desired. Also, CD liner notes just don’t cut it for toddlers to read. So we were excited to receive this book-and-CD set as a gift for Jacob from Gene’s sister.

Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes: Share and Sing in Two Languages is a nice hardcover with colorful illustrations, and the music on the CD sounds professional and clear. You get a lot of content for your dollar: 20 songs in English and 20 in Chinese.┬áThe price is worth it for the CD alone! And you’ve heard many of these songs before, so it’s easy to sing along.

I find the pages just a little too crammed and the typeface too small. This allows more songs to fit into the pages, creating good value, but that makes it hard for Jacob to ask for one particular song (or for me to read the lyrics when the lights are dim). The pictures are vivid and interesting, though that can make the text even harder to read (for example, when printed black-on-blue).

The songs are organized thematically (Outside, Inside, Party, Play, Night), but I think there could have been even closer alignment among them. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Happy Birthday to You,” and “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” are matched with their Chinese translations, but more pairings would have been nicer for purposes of language acquisition of parent as well as child. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why there are English songs in here that aren’t translations of the Chinese. If I wanted music in English, I’d go buy that separately – as nice as these songs are, there are better from American artists.

Overall, this book-CD combination is well worth its value – I recommend it, despite the criticisms above. So far, Jacob has not been smitten with this book, but he’s still at the stage where a single-song book, or just humming a tune, is his best way of asking for music. Maybe as he gets older this book will become more fun for him.

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