During my search for Montessori-friendly books, I came across the Greenfield 我自己会读 (Wǒ zìjǐ huì dú) I Can Read Series, and I’m so glad we added it to our library! These Chinese leveled readers come with Mandarin and Cantonese audio CDs!
My daughter learned to read Chinese through Sagebooks Beginner 500 series, other picture books, and hands-on activities. After completing Sagebooks, I had a hard time finding the right books for her reading level. I needed to find something that my daughter could read independently to boost her confidence and also improve her reading fluency.
Greenfield 我自己会读 I Can Read series was the perfect follow-up to Sagebooks for reading practice and boosting confidence!
First, I’ll give an overview of what the series entails. Then, I’ll review our experience with the books and why we recommend it.
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Review of Greenfield 我自己会读 I Can Read series
- 我自己会读 Series: Simplified Chinese with pinyin (no English)
- 我自己會讀 Series: Traditional Chinese (no pinyin, zhuyin, or English)
Author: Kong Li Chi-Ho, Cathy Lee
Illustrator: Hong Bo
Publisher: 青田教育中心 Greenfield Education Center, Hong Kong
Where to buy Greenfield Chinese books for children
- Greenfield HK (ships internationally)
- China Sprout (links to each book set below)
*Note: Please compare prices before shopping. Although I ordered from China Sprout, other parents have since told me that they had a better experience shopping directly from Greenfield. Ordering the books from China Sprout very confusing as they offer the book+CD+workbook sets separately and not as full sets.
Overview of the Greenfield 我自己会读 I Can Read Series
Greenfield offers 3 different leveled reading series:
- 我自己会读 I Can Read (Ages 3-9)
- 我爱读 I Love to Read (Ages 4-9)
- 魔术盒 Magic Box (Ages 5-9)
I chose the 我自己會讀 I Can Read Series based on detailed reviews by other parents (Alex Pang, Mandarin Mama, and Guavarama). These other parents used the traditional Chinese version, so I wanted to share my experience using the simplified Chinese version of the books.
The series is divided into 8 sets indicated by color: 红,橙,黄,绿,青,蓝,紫,彩虹 (red, orange, yellow, green, light green, blue, purple, rainbow):
- Teaches 840 characters and 1600 words
- 12 books per set (Total of 96 mini stories, 8 pages per book) with flashcards in each book
- Color-coded workbooks and CDs in Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese are included
Prior to starting the series, I recommend being able to speak Chinese conversationally and knowing a couple hundred basic Chinese characters.
Photos of the Greenfield 我自己会读 I Can Read Series
My photos here only show 7 of the 8 sets; I did not have the rainbow book set at the time of this review.
Below are photos of the orange level Chinese workbook.
Why we recommend the Greenfield 我自己会读 series for children learning Chinese
- “Whole language approach”: Words are introduced through repetitive sentences with apporpriate Chinese grammar.
- Relatable, simple, cute stories:
- The mini stories are about daily life, including siblings/friendship, bath/bedtime, school, zoo, playground, shopping, and seasons.
- Because the stories are relevant, kids may be more motivated to read and retain new words.
- Short length:
- The short length of each book gave my daughter confidence because she could finish each story in 1-2 minutes.
- Each book has only 1 line of Chinese characters per page. At that point, although my daughter could read 500-600 characters, she would get overwhelmed if she saw a page full of words. So these books were perfect for her.
- Beautiful, colorful illustrations:
- The attractive pictures serve as contextual prompts for new words. Since it’s hard to find realistic Chinese picture books, I appreciated that most pictures in this book showed people, animals, and items in relatively normal proportion.
- There are some talking animals and unrealistic colors, but overall I would say this series is mostly “Montessori-friendly.”
- Legible font: The Chinese characters are in large font while the pinyin is in small font
- Excellent CD:
- This is one of the most valuable aspects of the series. My daughter relies on audiobooks for exposure to native Mandarin, and the audio is pleasant and easy for a child to follow along, as long as they are conversational in Chinese.
- Even if the parent is a native or fluent Chinese speaker, I still think it’s important for children to hear various other speakers for exposure. For example, if the parent speaks Taiwanese Mandarin fluently, I think the child would benefit from hearing Mandarin from a Hong Kong-based CD to become familiar with slight differences.
- Interactive workbooks: Writing practice, coloring, and matching games are in each workbook.
- Flashcards: Tear-out flashcards of new characters are in the front and back of each book.
Videos of the Greenfield 我自己会读 I Can Read Series
You can hear an example of the CD’s Mandarin narration in the video below and take a peek at the inside of the book and its flashcards.
Here is a sample recording of the CD’s Cantonese audio narration:
How we used Greenfield 我自己会读 series
We used these books for listening and reading practice and not as a formal Chinese learning curriculum.
Flexible reading and learning schedule
When we received these books, my daughter was SO excited about the rainbow colors and the CDs.
My only rule was that we had to start from red, so she literally sat through each CD and finished listening to the books in 2 days. Then, my daughter decided she wanted to pick one book of each color to read so that she was reading a “rainbow” each night. See – not normal!
The most important thing was my daughter’s enthusiasm, so I followed her lead. For me, this was not a battle worth picking, as I realized she learns when she is self-motivated.
I’m so glad that we did it her way, because after a few weeks of reading and listening to random CDs, she was able to read most of the stories on her own.
Greenfield 我自己会读 series Mandarin and Cantonese CDs
My daughter was so happy that she could manage the CDs independently. When she wanted to listen to a specific story, she would remove it carefully from the CD wallet and play it on our CD player.
Chinese flashcards and workbooks
We did not use the flashcards, because my daughter does not like to learn from them. She also only did a few pages of one workbook, but we did not use the others. However, other parents have found these resources as helpful supplements.
- The traditional Chinese version has no Zhuyin or Hanyu Pinyin. However, this could be a good thing if you want your child to focus on the characters only.
- For those learning Cantonese, none of the versions have jyutping (Cantonese Pinyin).
- The books have no English and would not be suitable for a family who is learning Chinese for the first time. The amount of vocabulary might be overwhelming for someone not previously exposed to basic characters. However, although my speaking/comprehension level is limited working proficiency, I was able to understand most of the stories in this series. I did have to look up several words in my Pleco dictionary app, but I liked how there was less extraneous text on each page.
- The books do not have as much spaced repetition like Sagebooks. Therefore, I would suggest re-reading each book a few times to reinforce new words.
Final thoughts about Greenfield Chinese Leveled Readers
Despite these downsides, if your budget permits, I recommend Greenfield 我自己会读 Series as a follow-up to Sagebooks. The combination of those two series gave my daughter strong reading and comprehension skills.
The Greenfield 我自己会读 series offers plenty of reading practice and build reading confidence. The CDs give exposure to native Mandarin or Cantonese. In addition, workbooks and flashcards are included for supplemental learning.
Other Chinese leveled readers for kids
For a head-to-head comparison of all of the options, please refer to this post: Chinese Leveled Readers: Comparison of Graded Books for Kids.
Tips on creating a Chinese learning environment at home
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent: 7 Lessons Learned
- How To Get Your Child To Speak the Minority Language
- How to Find a Foreign Language Teacher for Your Child
- 5 Reasons Books are the Best Gifts for Multilingual Kids
Teaching kids how to read Chinese
- When and How to Introduce Chinese Characters to Kids?
- 5 Basic Tips for Memorizing Chinese Characters
- Create a Print-Rich Environment with Labels that Promote Literacy
- How I Taught My Child 1000+ Chinese Characters as a Non-Fluent Speaker
- When Should My Child Learn Hanyu Pinyin?
Happy reading, friends!