Kai-Lan, or the Chinese Dora

ni-hao-kai-lan-special-kai-lan-s-grWhen you’re the parent of a toddler, there’s something you share with the parents of all the other young children out there in the world. You know who Dora the Explorer is, and you can probably name most of her extended family as well. Dora is an interesting cross-over phenomenon because every pre-schooler knows her, regardless of their race, ethnicity or primary language. It’s because of Dora, my daughter speaks more Spanish than she does Chinese. Given the widespread success of Dora, it was no surprise when Nickelodeon announced a new children’s cartoon, Ni Hao, Kai-Lan featuring a character who speaks Chinese (Mandarin) words sprinkled in with her English.

Ni Hao, Kai-Lan has been around since February of 2008, and has only recently started to gain in popularity. The show features a pre-school aged Chinese girl, named Kai-lan, her animal friends, and her grandfather, Ye-ye. The show not only sprinkles in Chinese words here and there, it also occasionally sings songs in Chinese. I’ve put the show on for my daughter since it aired, trying to get her to pick up more Chinese, but she still favors Dora to Kai-lan. The recent introduction of Kai-lan toys and clothes wear by Target has helped move her closer to the Kai-lan camp. (And my buying her those toys and clothes hasn’t hurt either.)

I’m hoping the introduction of a new episode, titled Kai-Lan’s Great Trip to China will move her even closer. My daughter’s started asking about going to China (since I’ve gotten her to self-identify as Chinese), and I think this episode will really interest her. Right now her favorite episode, features Ye-ye singing the Chinese nursery rhyme about two tigers (the one sung to the tune of Frère Jacques). She loves it because I sing that song to her, and it’s the only song I know in Chinese.

So if you got a little one, you can join Kai-lan as she travels across China to find presents for Baby Panda’s naming party, when it airs on August 14, 2009 at 10:00AM (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon.

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About Tim

I'm a Chinese/Taiwanese-American, born in Taiwan, raised on Long Island, went to college in Philadelphia, tried Wall Street and then moved to the California Bay Area to work in high tech in 1990. I'm a recent dad and husband. Other adjectives that describe me include: son, brother, geek, DIYer, manager, teacher, tinkerer, amateur horologist, gay, and occasional couch potato. I write for about 5 different blogs including 8Asians. When not doing anything else, I like to challenge people's preconceived notions of who I should be.
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