An unexpected benefit of being hosted on the Executive Club level at Four Seasons Hotel Beijing was being able to browse the interesting library of China travel books at our leisure. In fact, we spent hours here at the request of my daughter. The collection ranged included fiction based in China, general travel guides, souvenir and shopping guides, photography books, and some kids’ books.
The Executive Club library’s policy is that guests are free to borrow or exchange books. Pretty neat, I’d say. And, it’s certainly not a bad way to digest the breakfast (complete with fresh Beijing-style noodles) or spend happy hour with a glass of wine as the sun sets over the city.
Over the course of our stay, we browsed most of the books and I wished I had purchased several prior to our China family vacation. I was blown away by all of the fun things to do in Beijing with kids.
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The Great Wall Revisited: From Jade Gate to Old Dragon’s Head
The Great Wall Revisited: From the Jade Gate to Old Dragon’s Head is an amazing compilation of several years of work. The author gathered vintage photographs (some date back to 1871) and traveled along the Great Wall of China to replicate the vintage photos in today’s setting. The book compares the vintage photo and the modern photo of each section side-by-side accompanied by historical narrative. My 7-year-old thought it was so cool that we bought it for our bookshelf.
How to Select Chinese Souvenir
I’m more of a purchase-on-the-fly type person, but I did enjoy thumbing through How to Select Chinese Souvenirs : A Quick Shopping Guide for Travelers to China. I mention it because it’s pictured above with the amazing Great Wall photography book. This is for the person who loves to know every single detail regarding souvenir possibilities. Skip it otherwise.
Despite living in Hong Kong and being a fan of jade, it never occurred to me to purchase a book like this. I wish I had. The cultural books I’m referencing start at Chinese Jade in the top photo and end at Chinese Ceramics. My daughter had me read the Peking Opera book to her out loud for a bit. I thought she was too young to enjoy Peking Opera during this trip to China but she was so interested in the book that I will definitely take her next time.
I mention these because if you have a passion for a particular aspect of Chinese culture, these books are helpful. In the United States, they’re published by Cambridge University Press.
My First Chinese Word Book
My daughter actually understands a decent amount of Mandarin but this book packs in a lot of information including matching photos to pinyin and Chinese characters in “action” photos that are easy for kids and adults to understand.
The book comes with a CD-ROM which must demonstrate the correct pronunciation of each word on it. This is an excellent book for kids who are just starting to learn Mandarin or want to know how to say a handful of words.
Speaking of Mandarin, we have the Kids Learn Mandarin app by Fingerprint on our iPad which teaches the language through games. It’s free and my daughter enjoys it.
China Folk Arts Series
I regret that I can’t seem to find where to purchase these China Folk Arts Books in the United States, but my daughter enjoyed reading and flipping through this series, especially the book about Chinese Paper Cuts. I mention them as a reminder to study specific topics before your China family vacation to make it that much more special for you and the kids.
LUXE City Guides
While we’re on the subject of books, I swear by LUXE City Guides when traveling in Asia. I’ve used a number of their shopping itineraries and they’re pretty spot-on. LUXE China cities include Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. The paper version folds up tightly to fit into your pocket, however, the app costs less money and can link you to Google maps if you need directions.
If your China family vacation lands you in Beijing, definitely book yourself on to Executive Club level at Four Seasons Hotel Beijing. The food is delicious, too. During good weather, you can even read books on the rooftop patio.