This Podcast is Here to Read Stories in Both Mandarin and English to Help You Sleep

Imagine yourself lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and feeling restless. You've had a long day, and all you want is to drift off into a peaceful slumber. But your mind won't let you. That's when Tucked in Bed comes in.

By Hannah Liza Tapan

April 28, 2023

Tucked in Bed is a sleeping podcast founded and hosted by the talented Chinese-American Karen Zheng, where she reads children’s stories both in Mandarin Chinese and English.

Growing up, Karen’s parents were busy working every day and they didn’t have the time to read bedtime stories to her. So, Karen created this podcast in an attempt to heal her childhood self.

TO HAVE SOMEONE READ TO YOU AT NIGHT IS A SACRED THING

As a child, I had a pretty good foundation in Chinese since I went to a Chinese school and spoke Chinese at home (or rather, was required to speak Chinese at home).

However, my parents, like the usual immigrant parents, were always busy, and they were never home. I started staying home alone around the age of seven, so when the clock strikes sleep o’clock, I read myself to sleep.

Oftentimes, these books were English grade school novels or Chinese versions of Crayon Shin-Chan (my favorite cartoon to date). Growing up, I never got bedtime stories read to me, so this podcast is a way for me to heal my childhood self and read bedtime stories for other children who may not have easy access to bilingual stories, or those who do not have anyone to read to them before they sleep like I didn’t.

For me, to have someone read to you at night is a sacred thing. It means that there is someone out there who cares and understands that you would appreciate a story in both Mandarin and English.

SOME OF STORIES ARE GOOFY AND SOME HAVE A MORAL THEME

For each season, I try to have a mix of Idiom stories to teach children and non-Chinese speakers the importance of Chinese idioms and light-hearted stories revolving around animals.

Some of these stories are goofy and some have a moral theme. In the most recent season that I’m working on, I’ve been including origin stories such as the origin of the Chinese dumpling and also the legend of the Lunar New Year. These folklores and histories provide a basis for children to understand their heritage and lineage.

Karen preparing the stories before recording

COLLABORATING WITH FELLOW AHN MEMBER

Another AHN member, Serena Li, reached out to me for collaboration in Season 2, where she read one of her books called “All Puppies Are Good Puppies” in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. We connected very well, and I got to listen to her story. It’s a wonderful experience to have another person read with me in the podcast.

Serena Li is the founder and CEO of Duck Duck Books, a multilingual children’s book publisher.

STAYING IN TOUCH WITH MY ROOTS

The podcast has definitely helped me retain the Chinese in me.

Lately, ever since going to college and not being around the house too much, I haven’t had the chance to speak Chinese. With this podcast, I’m getting the practice I need and I get to stay in touch with my roots. Aside from that, I’m also having lots of fun, learning about new folktales and translating them for other children.

While Karen is recording for Tucked in Bed podcast

HOPES FOR THE PODCAST

My hope for the podcast is that it will make it easier for children from bilingual backgrounds to learn and keep both English and Mandarin languages. I also hope that it will be a way for speakers interested in learning Chinese to interact with Mandarin.

I think it’s important for children to be able to read and listen to their home language and English at the same time, in order to normalize speaking their home language, in this case, Mandarin.

I want to keep the podcast going for as long as I can. Perhaps, in the future, I’ll try to write my own children’s stories as well.

LISTEN TO TUCKED IN BED PODCAST

Spotify: Tucked in Bed

Apple: Tucked in Bed