Linking Chinese Culture with 5 Characters and 10 books

Beauty, Wisdom, Elegance, Charm, Harmony

Culture is a huge word and contains a variety of aspects such as language, social customs, habits, arts, music, drama, literature, religion and values.

For the beginner of Chinese culture I am going to introduce 5 characters and recommend 10 books for a start.

All the books that are mentioned can be found in the IST library collection.

1. 美 Beauty

782.1 TAN

Tan Gudnason, Jessica, et al. Chinese Opera. New York: Abbeville Press, 2001.

The Chinese opera’s roots extended back to the Tang Dynasty. The most famous Chinese opera is京劇. Beijing opera is a form of traditional Chinese theatre which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. The form was extremely popular in the Qing Dynasty court and has come to be regarded as one of the cultural treasures of China.

Chinese Opera offers glimpses of the history and highlights of Beijing and other opera traditions. The authors want to share their appreciation and love of this classical art with readers.


Wang, Luxiang, et al. Shen Ren Gong Ju (Xizang) = Living with Deities They Worship (Tibet). Hangzhou : Zhejiang People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, 2000.

神人共居 (西藏) Living with Deities They Worship(Tibet) gives you a brief picture of Tibetan vernacular architecture. Four other books in the same series (Local Structures in China) are also available from the IST library collection.

732 ANC

Wu, Wen, and Shuming Sun. Ancient Sculpture. Culture of China. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2002.

This is a collection of sculptures from different dynasties of ancient China. Though the size of the book is small it provides a visual feast of works of art in stone, clay, metal and wood

2. 智 Wisdom

Confucius and Lao Tzu were two great philosophers in the history of China. Their theories are prominent in Chinese thought and have been followed by Chinese people for thousands of years. The following quotes are selected from their master works.

上善若水 “The highest good is like that of water. The goodness of water is that it benefits the ten thousand creatures; yet itself does not scramble, but is content with the places that all men distain. It is this that makes water so near to the Way” (Lao Tzu).

君子和而不同 “The Master said, The true gentleman is conciliatory but not accommodating. Common people are accommodating but not conciliatory ”  (Confucius).

181 CON

Confucius. The Analects. Trans. Arthur Waley.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1938.


Lao Tzu. Tao Te Jing. Trans. Arthur Waley. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 1998.

3. 雅 Elegance

琴棋书画 Qin Qin Shu Hua (music, chess, calligraphy and painting) are considered “the four arts”. In ancient China a learned scholar was accomplished in these “four arts”.


Trans. Xu, Yuanchong. Jing Xuan Shi Jing Yu Sh Yi Hua = Selections from the Book of Poetry (Illustrated edition). Beijing: China Intercontinental Press, 2006.

Chinese painting and poetry are high cultural achievements. This book is a perfect combination of these two forms of arts. Two other books from the same series can also be found in the IST library.

745.6 SHI

Shi, Bo. Between Heaven and Earth: A History of Chinese Writing. Boston: Shambhala, 2003.

The characters used in Chinese writing are not letters but stylized ideographs, each with its own history. In Between Heaven and Earth: a History of Chinese Writing master, calligrapher Shi Bo gives a fascinating overview of the evolution of seven seminal Chinese writing styles starting as far back as the 17th century BC. He also introduces the reader to the calligrapher’s art, including its materials and techniques.

4. 韻 Charm


Young, Ed. Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem About China. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2005.

Ed Young, Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator, was born in Tianjin. His illustrations and writing are full of Chinese flavor. All Ed Young’s award honor and winner books can be found in the IST library collection. Take a look at Beyond the Great Mountains and enjoy the beautiful verse and meaningful illustrations. All Ed Young’s award honor and winner books can be found in the IST library collection.

5. 和 Harmony

741.5 YAN

Yang, Gene Luen, and Lark Pien. American Born Chinese. New York: First Second, 2006.

Many Chinese people believe that everything in the universe can be explained as a balance between yin and yang. Yang represents energy and light and is a male force. Yin, the opposite of yang, is still, dark, and female. Many aspects of Chinese culture try to keep this balance and Chinese people generally try to find harmony within themselves and with others in all sides of their lives.

American Born Chinese, alternates three interrelated stories about the problems of young Chinese Americans trying to participate in the popular culture. The culture conflict is conquered by the inner harmony at last.

92 SU

Demi. Su Dongpo: Chinese Genius. New York: Lee & Low Books, 2006.

Su Dongpo is an illustrated biography of Su Dongpo, Chinese poet, civil engineer, and statesman, whose appreciation for nature and justice were evident in his works and led him to experience both triumph and adversity in eleventh-century China.

Demi, award winning author and illustrator, has traveled extensively and studied art in Mexico, India, and China. She holds a special place in her heart for Chinese culture and her books of Chinese stories and culture are highly recommended.

For more examples see also Yancy. “10 Things Related to Chinese Literature.” Web log post. Goodreads. 2 Feb. 2010. Web.

Teen Health and Wellness Center

According to Rosen publishers:
Every article in  the subscription database, Teen Health and Wellness Center now includes a Translation Widget in the upper right corner. Users can instantly translate any article into Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian, Korean, and more. (Haitian Creole will be available later this summer.) This should help all of our community of users⎯teens and adults⎯to feel even more “at home” while finding answers, easily and with confidence, 24/7.

Remember students can view databases over the summer. Login passwords can be found on the homepage of the OPAC.

Is It Endangered?

Grade 2 is embarking on an inquiry into how we share the planet. They are focusing on endangered animals and were in the library earlier this week looking for books and websites about different animal species.

Not all animals are endangered, thankfully. To know which animals are endangered, grade 2 students – and other animal lovers – can use the library catalog. Click on the link below to see a screencast that will show you how.

Endangered Animals List

End of Year …

made with

Overdue notices were distributed this week. Please make sure library records are cleared. Students who do not clear their records will not receive reports.

All returning students, who have cleared their records, are invited to check out books over the summer. And remember all databases are available throughout the summer too.

We are nearing the end of the year. Students can find recommended booklists for summer reading in the library OPAC.

See Summer Reads, Book Lists, Reads for Teens, and Panda Books.

More Books

This past week students received their book orders from Scholastic. Purchases enabled the library to receive several bonus books that have been added to the collection.

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen

Lisa has been busy adding titles to the collection. The following novels have been added into Reading Resource collection:

The Japanese Ninja Surprise (Flat Stanley’s World Wide Adventure) 35 copies. Reading level: 4.5

Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher 6 copies. Reading level: 5.8

The Voyage of the Frog by Gary Paulsen. 6 copies. Reading level: 5.9

Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Leal, 6 copies. Reading level: 4.0.

Hard Gold: the Colorado Gold Rush of 1859 by Avi. 6 copies. Reading level: 4.2.

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen. 6 copies. RL: 4.3.

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech. 6 copies. RL: 5.4.

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen. 6 copies. RL5.9.

It Only Looks Easy by Pamela Curtis Swallow. 6 copies. RL5.2.

This is a case where individual reading habits support the full school reading practices. Thank you!

Scholastic Book Club orders have arrived

The March Scholastic Book Club orders arrived on Friday!

The March Scholastic Book Club orders have arrived.

The Scholastic Book Club orders arrived on Friday. Elementary teachers have distributed the books to the students who ordered. Secondary students are invited to pick up their order at the library’s circulation desk. Please come see us at the library if you have any problems with your order.

Thanks to the IST’s community participation in the book club orders, we were able to obtain many new items for the library and the elementary reading program for free. Thank you!

This is our second and last order from the Scholastic Book Clubs this year. We plan to continue with the book club ordering next year. If you have any comments or questions regarding the Scholastic Book Club orders, please comment here or contact us at the library.

Monkey Business

Grade one is working on one of my favorite units—The Stories Unit
Their central idea is …
We all use stories to share our ideas, feelings and what is important to each of us.

I had the opportunity to be a guest storyteller and share one of my favorite stories that has been around since 1940, Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. For awhile we had a room full of little monkeys shaking their fingers and hissing, ‘Tsz, tsz, tsz.” After the story, students were grouped in threes and retold the story to each other using one of Dr. McDonald’s storytelling techniques.

It was a delightful morning for all of us!

The 100 Books Club

Badge given to the members of the 100 Books Club

Congratulations to the 8 IST elementary students who have checked out 100 books or more this year. They will be given a badge like the one shown on this post and they will be the first to check out one of our latest batch of new books, especially chosen for each of them.

The 100 Books Club members for the year 2009-2010 school year are:

    Tracy Zheng, 2M
    Angela Yang, 5W
    Jung Bin Hong, 4T
    Joo Young Hwang, 5C
    Amber Garrett, 4T
    Julius Bernhardt, 4S
    Michael Fitzgerald, 4T
    Seung Hwan Cha, 4T

Keep reading, everyone!