Saturday, January 13, 2018

Ling and Ting Series (Grace Lin)

Author:  Grace Lin

Illustrator:  Grace Lin

Target Ages:  4-8

Level:  Early Reader Chapter Book/Passport to Reading Level 3

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Ling and Ting is currently a four book early reading series. Each page has a combination of illustrations, simple text, and short sections, making the series ideal for youngsters wanting to move to the challenge of chapter books. 

The books are divided into six short story chapters. The first five stories are all connected to the same theme.  In the first three books, the last one is a story (usually silly and/or imaginative) that one of the girls creates from her perspective.  The final story is either a mash up of the details in the previous five or a contrasting narrative.  In the fourth book, this formula was not followed. Instead, all six chapters were stories about the weather.

The characters are kind, thoughtful, and inquisitive.  The author effectively conveys the girls’ animated and infectious personalities in the limited vocabulary and vivid snapshot illustrations. Their relatable experiences and charming personalities will draw children in while the positive themes and admirable character qualities will impress parents. 

One of my favorite characteristics of the series is how it celebrates reading and writing.  Ting and Ling are often found with books or reading. Also, each book encourages the characters (and readers) to become part of the storytelling.  The girls depict reading, creating, and writing as both fun and engaging. 

Here are the first four books in the series.

Each chapter reveals (both directly and indirectly) the ways the Ling and Ting are different.  Ling sits still during her haircut, but Ting is wiggly (which causes a slight problem).  Similarly, one girl eats with ease using her chopsticks while the other struggles with hers.  The final chapter is a story that Ting tells to Ling using the elements of the narrative, but in an embellished, mixed up way. 

Extension Ideas
  • Discuss how each girl is different. Look closely not only at the text but at the illustrations for clues.
  • Using a graphic organizer or chart, show the similarities and differences between the two girls. 
  • Compare the details in the “Mixed Up” chapter with what really happened in the story. 
  • Write a mixed up stories using this story’s (or another one's) details. 
  • Here is an educator's guide for the Ling and Ting series from the publisher. 

Ling and Ting celebrate their birthday together.  They buy gifts, bake cakes, make birthday wishes, and open presents.  They end their day with an alternate birthday tale. 

Extension Ideas
  • Build on the previous book discussion on how the girls are similar and different.   
  • Evaluate the different ways the girls show kindness and compassion to one another. 
  • Compare the “Birthday Story” chapter with the birthday story of the previous five chapters. 
  • Practice predicting skills in each chapter:  Which color shoes will girls each pick?  What gifts will they buy each other?  What will happen when they make their own birthday cakes?  What will their birthday wishes be? What will happen when the girls exchange gifts?
  • Compare their birthday traditions to your own. 

The focus is on silly stories the girls imagine and act out. For instance, Ting plants cupcakes in the garden in hopes of growing a cupcake tree (wouldn’t we all love that!).  The girls have an imaginary swing contest that takes them up above the trees and beyond. My favorite though is their elaborate plan to convince monkeys to pick apples for them! Like the other two books, it ends with a story the girls created using the elements of the previous chapters in a unique way.  In this one, there are several illustrations of handwritten pages with pictures they drew. 

Extension Ideas
  • Build on the previous book discussion on how the girls are similar and different.
  • Compare the fantasy or silly elements with reality or realistic elements. 
  • Come up with an imaginative plan to accomplish a goal or chore (like story 4). 
  • Write and illustrate a silly story (like story 6).

Together in All Weather
Beginning with a lightening storm and ending with a double rainbow, the girls experience all 4 seasons.  In the summer they set up a lemonade stand, and in the fall they rake leaves.  My favorite is the winter story though. Ling comes up with a creative way to prove Ting is not too sick to shovel the snow.  The final two stories involve playing in the spring rain and finding a rainbow. Like the first three books in the series, the stories are sweet and entertaining. They also often have a witty or ironic ending.  

Extension Ideas
  • Build on the previous book discussions on how the girls are similar and different.
  • Before reading, brainstorm the reader's (or readers') favorite activities in each season.  How does it compare to Ling and Ting's?
  • Pick a season. Together write (or tell it orally) a story about the girls experiencing the seasons in a different way, such as sledding in the snow, planting a garden, going to the pool, or carving a pumpkin.  
  • Compare the pictures to the text in story one.  What is revealed?
  • Like the mixed up stories in the previous books (in chapters 6), create one for this book.  Write down all the main events.  Mix them up.  Pick one from the pile and embellish it.  Keep going until all the events have been used up.

All children love to celebrate their birthdays, to use their imaginations, to participate in seasonal activities, and to play with their siblings/friends.  All children can show compassion and actively share.  In short, this multicultural series focuses on what makes us similar rather than different.  

The Ling and Ting series deserves a place in your primary classroom or home library.  Your children will enjoy reading and re-reading it.  


  1. This is one of my favorite early chapter book series! It's one of the first books I bring to students who are looking for those longer stories :)

  2. A fun series! Thank you for sharing!


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