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Books, Panda Items, and Other Favorites for Families with Children from China

Updated on September 17, 2015
Books and other gift ideas for families with children from China
Books and other gift ideas for families with children from China

Variety of Items Make Great Gift Ideas for Adoptive Families

This site includes books, DVD's, CD's, and other items that tie in with Chinese heritage, history, and culture.

I'm a librarian who has been reading everything I can find on China and Chinese adoption ever since my husband and I made the decision to adopt our girl 15 years ago.

I've highlighted the best of the books here.

You will also find other fun gifts ranging from DVD's to toys to jewelry, and even snacks to use as stocking stuffers.

For several years, I have been the coordinator of the Chinese market, a fundraiser for one of the Chinese Heritage Camps here in Colorado. I've kept an eye on what the families have liked to buy, and I'm listing the most popular items here.

I hope you enjoy browsing the site. If you have suggestions to add, please feel free to enter your comments in the Guest Book area down at the bottom of the page.

Gifts for Boys

Have a boy on your list? Here are some books and toys which have proved popular with boys at our heritage camp.

The Alvin Ho Series by Lenore Look

In this chapter book series for grades 1-4, Alvin Ho is a second-grade boy who has more than his share of worries. He finds lots of thing scary: talking at school, his piano teacher, elevators, etc.

He's smart, though, and he's determined to make friends, even though he finds that scary, too. This is a laugh-out-loud series that tucks in all kinds of interesting tidbits about Chinese culture, as well as Shakespeare, Beethoven, and Henry David Thoreau, among others.

I've provided a link to the first one here, but there are several more in the series.

The Five Ancestors Series by Jeff Stone

For ages 8-14

When I led a book club for kids at the library, this series was far and away the boys' favorite. Several of them rushed out to get the next book and delighted in telling me about all the twists and turns in the plot.

This series is great fun, combining fast-paced action and adventure with the history of China, and especially kung fu.

As the story begins, a kung fu monastery is being attacked by a renegade monk who has brought along firearms. Five teen boys, who will become "The Five Ancestors," are hiding, all squashed together in an earthenware jar.

When they emerge from their hiding place, they find that their grandmaster has been attacked, and the boys fight valiantly for him, but they are outnumbered and outweaponed. Before he is killed, grandmaster gives the boys two tasks: to discover how they are related to another, and to cause a change in the heart of the emperor.

These quests set the story in motion and send each boy into his own tales of mystery and self-discovery.

I have included a link to the first one here.

Here are the names of the books, in order:








Chinese Yo-Yo

This yo-yo works a little differently from the ones we are used to. A person rolls it side to side, rather than up and down.

Video Demonstration of Using a Chinese Yo-Yo

This fellow gives a simple and short demonstration of how to work this yo-yo.

Other Fun Things

Here are some odds and ends that are cute and cool.

The Cutest Panda Umbrella

Kidorables Panda Umbrella
Kidorables Panda Umbrella

Panda Umbrella

I have these umbrellas on some of the other pages, but I couldn't resist putting them on the main page.

One of my most treasured pictures is of my young daughter peeking out from underneath her umbrella.

Gift Ideas for Moms

Mom & daughter--families with children from China
Mom & daughter--families with children from China

Oftentimes adults are harder to buy presents for than kids are. In this section, I've aimed for books that would make for a fun holiday read. They may have some drama and hardship, but in the end they are charming, interesting, and hopeful.

I've also included some unique, but reasonably-priced jewelry and a few CD's and DVD's that I love.

Asian Noodle Cook Book

I have a noodle-lover in my house, and I was happy to find this relatively inexpensive book on cooking Asian dishes.

The recipes are simple, and they don’t call for a lot of specialized ingredients, though you’ll want to locate some fish sauce and some chili-garlic sauce for many of the recipes.

Cooking with Green Tea

Author Ying Chang Compestine used to live in Colorado, so I had the chance to meet her in person and taste her wonderful food.

She emphasizes healthy cooking (in this cookbook she emphasizes green tea, which has the most powerful antioxidant ever known) and simple preparation.

Her recipe for Spicy Thai Shrimp Noodles-- with flavors of lemon, cilantro, honey, and a little bit of spicy pepper—is absolutely delicious. I make big batches of the sauce and freeze it to use later.

Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen

Even if you didn’t make a single recipe from this book, it would be worth having just for the cultural and historical information surrounding food in China.

From this book, I learned the concept of “wok hay.” It literally means “the breath of the wok,” and it means you want to eat the food right after it comes out of the wok, so you don’t lose the flavors of wok hay. It’s kind of like the Chinese equivalent to “eat your dinner before it gets cold.”

This is authentic Chinese cooking—Cantonese comfort food. Some of the recipes are fairly simple, and others are pretty labor-intensive.

Fish Sauce

I know this sauce is used mainly in Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, but so many Asian cookbooks call for it, that I wanted to recommend a brand here, since it can be hard to find.

Our local Whole Foods carries this brand, and it works well. This links you to a six-pack, which seems like a lot, but it keeps forever. And this is a good price.

Chili Garlic Sauce

My family loves this sauce in stir-fry and on vegetables, especially green beans. I hit on a simple recipe for stir-fry (listed below), and now I use it all the time.

We used to have to take a trek to the Asian market, so I’m glad to see it available now to order.

Cook Time

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 6

Stir-Fry Sauce: Ingredients

  • 2 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 2 -3 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup


  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. This amount of sauce will work for two pounds of meat, cut into thin pieces for stir-fry. We usually use pork chicken, or shrimp.
  3. Stir-fry the meat until done, then pour on the sauce and heat until the sauce is warmed.
  4. Serve with rice and your favorite veggies. We like to use green beans.


Pendants--Chinese jewelry
Pendants--Chinese jewelry

Jewelry from ChinaSprout

The ChinaSprout website is a wonderful place to find all things Chinese. The items featured here run under $20.

These little pendants are sturdy, and I love the fact that they are painted on the backs of Scrabble and domino tiles. You'll need to get a chain to go with them.

Playing in the Rain

Being a children's librarian, I've listened to plenty of recordings of children singing. Some are grating or too high-pitched, but the Beijing Angelic Choir is lovely. The children are amazing singers, and they have touched my heart.

Our whole family listened to the album in the car, and I suppose I can offer no better recommendation than to tell you we listened to it for six months straight.

The Jasmine Flower

Remember that I told you we listened to the previous album six months straight? When we were ready for a change, we popped in this CD, and we found it equally charming. It includes folk songs from different regions of China.

Our favorite is the Mongolian song "Eight Fiery Horses."

Photo App for the iPad

Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China
Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China

This is a photo my husband took of the Temple of Heaven when he was in China. The Fotopedia app includes thousands of gorgeous photos taken around China.

Apps with a Chinese Theme

These apps are free. One is a great collection of photos of China; the other will translate English to Mandarin and vice versa.

Found a great gift? Share your suggestions here.

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    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      What a great gift list for a very special group of people!