Chinese learning resources

Chinese Books for Beginners

Posted by Julia Song on Mar 18, 2016

Chinese books for beginners

If you're just starting to read Chinese - you may be hungry for reading material. Unfortunately, as a beginner it is hard to find materials that suit your Chinese reading abilities. Newspapers and novels are too advanced for you, and they will be out of reach for some time. So how do we solve this common and annoying problem?

Fortunately, this problem is mostly a solved one. After all, foreigners aren't the only people trying to learn to read Chinese. Think of the children! When Chinese children learn to read, they start with hanyu pinyin, and gradually build their knowledge of Chinese characters. That means Chinese books for children typically feature both pinyin and characters. The inclusion of pinyin makes it easier to look up unknown words in a dictionary. In addition, the sentences are usually simpler and the vocabulary less varied than the language used in newspapers. And as an interesting additional side benefit, the stories in children's books often relate fables and myths that form the foundation of shared Chinese cultural tradition; thus reading them will help you acclimate to Chinese culture from the ground up.

For example, it's easy to find character/pinyin versions of classic tales like Journey to the West, or fables giving the background to certain idiomatic expressions. The required reading level should suit many beginners, and the content is useful. Some other materials for this level include: Chinese Idioms. It has pictures and words that can make you understands better. Chinese fairytales, it has lots of interesting cultures and stories. Also there are some Chinese comic books - Older Master Q and Zhungzi Shuo, both written by Cai Zhi Zhong(Tsai Chih Chung)

Another option, just like with beginner english learners, is a graded reader. A graded reader is a book specifically designed to suit a language learner, and its level of difficulty is carefully controlled. A simple online search will turn up a large number of Chinese graded readers. Many graded readers also include Pinyin.

If you prefer reading on your phone, many such books are widely available as e-books. One advantage is that using a dictionary is easier if the text is already on your phone.

After you read, it's a good idea to have someone with whom to talk about it. It doesn't have to be a long conversation; even a short recap can help solidify the knowledge gained from reading. You can retell the story in your own words, or ask a few questions, having a simple discussion. A little bit goes a long way here.

Happy reading!

About The Author

Julia Song

Julia Song is a Chinese learning teacher at Hanbridge Mandarin. Julia Song excels at linguistic pedagogy and one-on-one instruction with 8 years teaching experience and her cheerful attitude and close attention to her students' progress make her an excellent Mandarin teacher for students of all levels.

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