Kai-lan Everywhere

January 26, 2010

It's nice to see a show with a Chinese American character as the main star really take off. There are some cultural elements to the show, such as when she takes a trip to China to visit "Gu Nainai" or the Lunar New Year episode, or the mid-Autumn moon festival one. (In the trip to China, Kai-lan and her friends get to visit and hold a baby panda! Totally unrealistic, but it's TV after all). Other episodes are just about being nice to friends, sharing and expressing your emotions. (One of my son's favorite phrases right now: "I'm saaaaad." Which I am positive he learned from watching Kai-lan).

I wasn't sure if this show would be successful, but I meet kids all the time who say (or their parents say) they like the show. Their kids won't be fluent in Mandarin, but that's not the point. They'll be able to pick up some phrases.

*This post has been modified because for some reason, half it got erased, and I had to recreate the latter half from memory. And my memory isn't that good.


Momo Chang

Senior Contributing Editor

Momo Chang is the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media, and freelances for magazines, online publications, and weeklies. Her writings focus on Asian American communities, communities of color, and youth culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Her stories range from uncovering working conditions in nail salons, to stories about “invisible minorities” like Tongan youth and Iu Mien farmers. She has freelances The New York Times, WIRED, and East Bay Express, among other publications.



My son absolutely adores Ni Hao, Kai-lan! (Or "Nai-lan" as he calls her... with Ho Ho as "Uh Oh," Rintu as "Tiger," and Tolee as "Toyee") The show encourages emotional intelligence, helping children identify and manage their emotions and their friends' emotions. This is so important in teaching compassion and empathy to our children. Plus the show is just so darn cute! I try to limit the amount of TV my son is exposed to, but this is one we definitely watch together almost every evening.