Chinese Graded Readers

I know not everybody is a fan of graded readers but those who like them and study Mandarin might find the following books interesting:

Chinese Breeze by the Peking University Press
FLTRP Graded Readers (FLTRP stands for Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press)
Graded Chinese Reader by Sinolingua

All of them come with CDs.

I also try to read newspapers, magazines etc., but I like graded readers as a start to get into things.

I sometimes read books in various languages, which I think is good practice and a nice way to compare languages. I read one of Obama’s books in German, English, Russian and Japanese. I might try to find it in Mandarin too.


I read the first book of the series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ in English and then in German. I hope to read it in Russian in the future, if I ever get good enough.

Can you recommend any good graded readers for Russian?

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ad Colin: I’m afraid I don’t know any graded readers for Russian, but I’ll ask around if some of my friends and/or colleagues do.

I have several books from all three of the series you mention above, and they really are fantastic. As much as I am now enjoying reading more ‘authentic’ content slowly I really felt (even now) like I needed a lot of lower level reading first. The Chinese Breeze readers are fantastic because they don’t shy away from using long sentences with more complicated ideas and grammar. I also love the way the Graded Chinese reader series are simplified versions of original short stories by well-known Chinese authors. I’ve noticed that the Graded Chinese Reader series is restructuring into 500, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500 and 3000 word readers, which should provide more options.

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Just some additional information: The Chinese Breeze series has no pinyin, at least not in the story texts. They have a vocabulary list though which includes pinyin and English and some words are transcribed in pinyin in footnotes throughout the text. The Sinolingua series comes with some sort of a grid, so you can cover up the pinyin while you read. The FLTRP series uses pinyin but the higher the level the less pinyin you’ll find.

Regarding the graded readers you mention, at what level do they begin? I am at the 250-300 character level and haven’t found much that I can actually use.

ad Steven: In your case I’d recommend Level 1 of the Chinese Breeze Reader Series. It uses about 300 words (and probably fewer characters). Since you can also listen to the MP3 files, you should not have too many problems reading the stories. They are read at two different speeds (slow and normal speech).

The Graded Chinese Reader Series has pinyin throughout the text.

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ad lovelanguagesIII:

"Chinese Breeze by the Peking University Press
FLTRP Graded Readers (FLTRP stands for Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press)
Graded Chinese Reader by Sinolingua

All of them come with CDs."

Thank you for this tip - this is exactly what I have been looking for.

ad adrian_r: You are most welcome :slight_smile:

Colin asked for a series of graded readers for Russian. A question for anyone and everyone, not just LLIII, what about granded readers for any other languages?

ad don: (…) what about granded readers for any other languages? (…)

Here is a site where they offer so-called “Lernkrimis” (crime stories as graded readers for language learners) in English, Italian, French, Spanish, Swedish and German (for foreigners). Usually the explanations and annotations are in German. I guess in the German series they are in English.

I bought a few of them for my nephews and nieces and I thought they were pretty good (they normally also include some exercises and sometimes also mp3 files).

EDITED: You can get most of these books on amazon too, I guess (at least on

@Robert. Thanks for the reference.

By far the best and most brilliantly conceived set of graded readers for Chinese I have ever come across is John Defrancis’ aptly titled “Chinese Reader” series.

I’ve yabbered on about these books in the past, so I’ll link to the relevant thread below. Well, well worth your time if you are serious about learning to read Chinese and can stand dry, but thorough textbook material (turns out I couldn’t, although I got over half-way through the roughly 2000-page set of books with accompanying audio).


ad Chris: Thanks for the suggestion. It sounds really interesting. I had never heard about them. I have similar books for Japanese and I think they are very useful.

Are these books only for traditional characters? I just watched a youtube video where a lady said that the books don’t use simplified characters. I started out with traditional ones but am now focusing on simplified characters.

If so, damn! :slight_smile: I just want simplified, too.

The main lessons are in traditional, but they contain additional simplified lessons at the end of the book based on the main texts in order to teach the differences.

John Defrancis’ Chinese Reader series:
here’s the link to access the audio via iTunes:

Available at no charge…bloody great. I dropped over $100 for the CDs.

Ouch! Chris, you were studying this series years ago, yes? The free audio was made available in September of 2013.

Are the texts that correspond to these audio files available online somewhere so people an import them into LingQ.