Chi’s journey

The last two Parent Spotlights have featured families who have finished the sets with at least one child. This week, we’re highlighting Chi Tsai, a family who is still in progress. They’ve finished the first Set and are in the middle of Set 2. We hope you find her experience thus far to be helpful and relatable to your own.


Both Chi and her husband grew up in Taiwan and are native Mandarin speakers. Though they live in the US, they only speak Mandarin at home and chose not to use baby talk so their daughter had an expansive Chinese vocabulary. Her daughter has been in bilingual (Chinese/English) preschool since 18 months old and they constantly Facetime with her grandparents in Chinese. Both Chi and her husband work full time.


- 4.5-year-old daughter (started: 4.5 years old; in progress: finished up to Budding Reader, Book 1)


1) Why did you choose Sagebooks?

I struggled to learn zhuyin when I was little and didn’t want my daughter to go through it. We also didn’t want to teach pinyin before she mastered phonics. Sagebook’s system matches what I was looking for.

2) What was your experience with going through Sagebooks?

I started to introduce Sagebooks to my daughter when she was 4 years old but she refused to learn it. However, I kept the books in her little library. When she turned 4.5 years old, one day she picked up the book and asked me to teach her. We have lessons about 3-4 days per week and she finished set 1 in 3.5 months.

3) What did your typical lesson look like? Did you do additional activities?

We are working parents and have busy schedules so we try to teach her on weeknights but sometime we miss a night. 4 characters per lesson is our goal. I always ask her to use the new vocabulary to make sentences and I might come up with some stories or songs that relate to the lesson we just learned. Sometimes we play tiles with Chinese characters to let her make free form sentences or stories.

4) What did you like about Sagebooks? Was there anything you didn't?

Here is what I liked about Sagebooks:
A) Instead of starting to teach characters with less strokes, it starts with commonly used characters. Therefore, in a short time, my daughter could read sentences or books by herself. It builds up her confidence.

B) The context is fun for young age kids.

C) Characters have stroke order. Although I have not taught my daughter how to write, she has fun using her finger to follow the strokes to “write” the words.

The only thing I don’t like about is the price. It’s pricey especially after shipping.

5) If you have more than one child, would you do it again?

Yes. However, we only have one kid but I have recommended Sagebooks to several friends.

6) Any advice for parents who are just starting?

If your toddlers or preschoolers are not into learning recognizing Chinese characters, don’t worry! Build up their vocabulary as large as possible so when they are ready to learn, it’s easy for them to 举一反三 (jǔ yī fǎn sān) / learn by analogy / and know how to use characters in different sentences. They will learn very fast when they are ready.

The content is short and fun for small kids but it might be boring for older ones. I plan to finish the whole 5 sets before my daughter finishes kindergarten next year.

Set up a goal but be flexible because sometimes kids just don’t want to read the same book or repeat the same sentence. Be creative and teach or review lessons in other ways. (Eg: flash cards, making sentences competition game, children’s songs or tile game)


Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience, Chi! We look forward to following your daughter’s progress in our Facebook Group.

If you have a story and would like us to feature your family and experience, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Many of our featured families are part of our Facebook Group so if you’d like to take advantage of the collective wisdom of your fellow parents, please


We’d love to hear from you.