Review of Greenfield 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
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Greenfield HK and have received no compensation for this review. All opinions here reflect my personal experience.
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My daughter learned to read Chinese at age 3 through a combination of reading the 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. 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! 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. Finally, I’ll include a list of online bookstores at the end of the post. iPad or desktop computer is recommended for detailed viewing of photo and videos.
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
*Please note that photos here only show 7 of the 8 sets; I did not have the rainbow book set to photograph at the time of this review.
Prior to starting the series, the child should have good conversational Chinese and know a couple hundred basic Chinese characters. The time it takes to complete the series depends on the child’s fund of knowledge.
Below are photos of the first 7 sets of the series:
Below are photos of the orange level Chinese workbook.
Why we recommend this series for children learning Chinese:
- Whole language approach: Words are introduced through repetitive sentences and normal Chinese grammar.
- Relevant, simple, cute, and humerous stories:
- The mini stories are about daily life, including siblings/friendship, bath/bedtime, school, zoo, playground, shopping, and seasons.
- Because the stories are relatable, kids are more likely to remember new words. My daughter thought most of the stories were amusing!
- 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 pictures serve as contextual prompts for new words, and the illustrations are well done. Since it’s hard to find realistic Chinese picture boks, 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.
You can hear an example of the CD in the video below and take a peek at the inside of the book and its flashcards.
How we used Greenfield 我自己会读:
We used these books for listening and reading practice and not as a formal curriculum. Therefore, our experience will probably not be a good example of what you’re supposed to do with the series. When we received these books, my daughter was SO excited about the rainbow colors and the CDs. When I told her we had to go in order starting from red, 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!
However, my daughter was enthusiastic, so I followed her lead. For me, this was not a battle worth picking, as I realized she learns when she is self-motivated. And 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. (As an aside, we love CDs! My daughter can manage them independently, carefully removing it from the CD wallet and playing it on our CD player.)
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.
- Ordering the books was very confusing. Part of the problem was ordering from another retailer that didn’t clearly link related books. I wished that there was a way to order the entire collection, rather than each set separately. When I previewed the books, I didn’t realize that the light green and dark green sets were different, so I had to order it later. Also, I didn’t realize the series included the rainbow set, which is why we don’t have it at the time of this review.
- The set is very expensive and highly marked up in US-based online stores. Each set costs $49.95 + tax + shipping! This means the complete series costs over $400!
- The traditional Chinese version has no zhuyin or pinyin. However, this could be a good thing if you want your child to focus on the characters only.
- 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 app, but I liked how there was less extraneous text on each page.
- The books to not have as much spaced repetition like Sagebooks. Therefore, I would suggest re-reading each book a few times to reinforce new words.
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, the workbooks and flashcards are excellent supplemental learning materials.
Where to buy Greenfield Chinese books for children:
For tips on how to get your child to read more, these 10+ ideas have been very helpful for our family!
Please leave a comment with any questions!