Personally, I’m a huge fan of graded readers: not only do I use them in my own Japanese language studies, but they also play a large role in my graduate school research. However, I find that for Chinese learning, there’s far fewer selection of graded readers to come by. Recently, Mandarin Companion has started releasing Graded Readers to fill in this gap.
These books are put out by both Jared Turner and John Pasden (the one behind All Set Learning and Sinosplice). Both Jared and John are strong believers of Extensive Reading, which was the source of their inspiration for creating a series of graded readers. Jared wrote up a post about his own experiences uses Extensive Reading, which is worth checking out. They also provide a great explanation for using Graded Readers on their website, too.
About the Readers
In the Level 1 Readers, which is the only level currently available, contain a core set of 300 characters that have been picked by Mandarin Companion. This level is intended for readers with a decent reading ability in Chinese, as they say:
If you are able to read this book without stopping every sentence to pull out a dictionary to look up a character, then this book is probably at your level.
I would say, practically, this equates to probably being in your second or third year of Chinese language education, depending on the pace of your program.
In each reader, new characters and words that fall out of the range of the level of the story have numbered footnotes, which links you to the the Key Words section at the back of each story. Each entry has the character, the pinyin, the part of speech and an English translation.
In addition, there is a section at the end of each book with discussion questions on each chapter, provided at the end of each book.
Currently the following stories are available, which are all Level 1 Readers:
- The Secret Garden (《秘密花园》) by Frances Hodgson Burnett;
- Sherlock Holmes and the Red-Headed League adapted into “The Case of the Curly Haired Company” (《卷发公司的案子》) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Monkey’s Paw (《猴爪》) by W.W. Jacobs
- The Country of the Blind(《盲人国》)by H.G. Wells;
- The Sixty-Year Dream (《六十年的梦》) which is based on “Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving.
You can read full descriptions of each book on the Mandarin Companion website here.
In this post, I’ll be looking specifically at two of the Level 1 readers, The Secret Garden (《秘密花园》) and The Monkey’s Paw (《猴爪》). I won’t dive much into the stories themselves, saving those for the reader to enjoy, and instead will just focus on interesting tidbits about each one.