Chinese Library Series – Simplified Chinese Readers with Pinyin & English

Chinese Graded Readers of the Chinese Library Series - Simplified Chinese, Pinyin, and English

Chinese Graded Readers of the Chinese Library Series is an excellent set of books for children who are learning simplified Chinese characters.

Written with the goal of teaching overseas children, these books were are among the first that we read when we first started our Chinese learning journey.

Since I am learning Chinese with my daughter, Hanyu Pinyin and English help me understand new Chinese characters while she focuses on reading and memorizing Chinese characters.

Chinese Graded Readers of the Chinese Library Series - Simplified Chinese, Pinyin, and English

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Chinese Graded Readers (Chinese Library Series)

Title: Chinese Graded Readers (Chinese Library Series) + Video CD

Author: Carol Chen (陈琦)

Publisher: Beijing Language and Culture University Press

Where to buy:

Reading the Chinese Zodiac story with realistic animal toys (similar here) in small basket

Chinese Graded Readers (Chinese Library Series) Book Review

The Chinese Graded Readers covers a variety of topics, including anthropomorphic animal stories, realistic stories about family, and famous Chinese festivals.

The simplified Chinese text is large and visible while the pinyin is subtle with a light gray font that is smaller than the Chinese characters. 

However, the Pinyin is conveniently available above each Chinese character. Pinyin can be helpful for people who are transitioning from English to Chinese.

English translations of key words are offered in the back of the book. 

Extended reading and questions provide additional reading and comprehension practice.

Chinese Library series - Nian Monster and Chinese Zodiac book with simplified Chinese and Pinyin
Top: Nian Monster; Bottom: Chinese Zodiac

How we used the Chinese Graded Readers (Chinese Library Series)

When my daughter was 3-years old, we were just starting to learn Chinese, and read the book while listening to the CD.

Then I would try to read the book with my daughter with the help of Pinyin, and she would point out characters that looked familiar to her.

When my daughter was completing the Sagebooks reading curriculum, she was gradually able to read most of the characters in the Chinese Graded Readers beginner level independently.

Therefore, these books were a great confident booster for her reading ability.

As for content, my daughter thought that most stories were interesting and cute, albeit simple.

Favorites include:

  • Fly High 飞吧
  • The Talking Bird 小鸟说话
  • The Chinese Zodiac 十二生肖
  • Two Little Cats 小黑和小白
  • Mei Mei the Panda stories
  • Golden Monkey stories

We would expand upon each story and try to speak as much Chinese as possible to describe what we thought could happen in the plot.

Explore this: How I Taught My Child 1000+ Chinese Characters as a Non-Fluent Speaker

Downsides to the Chinese Graded Readers: Video CD versus audio CD

Non-fluent families will be happy to hear that each book comes with a CD narration.

However, the CD is actually a VCD and not a regular audio CD and does not work in a regular CD player.

In order to listen to the native Mandarin-speaking narrator, we had to use the CD drive of a very old laptop computer, which was rather inconvenient.

Some of the stories are great for all ages while others might not be suitable for some children.

For example, the about about “我 (Wǒ / Me)” is about an only child who wishes she has siblings. She spends the whole story wishing for siblings while her relatives shower her with love. At the end of the story, she still wishes for siblings and there is no resolution to the yearning. While this might be relatable for some people, the lack of a resolution might be an uncomfortable trigger.

In another story, 老鼠小姐 (lǎoshǔ xiǎojiě), the mouse’s parents wants her to get married because she’s getting older. The mouse decides to marry a cat because the cat seems brave. At the end of the story, the mouse parents are looking for their daughter, but they cannot find her. Turns out, the cat ate the mouse because he thought she was so pretty and didn’t want anybody to see the mouse. Anyone else find this to be bizarre?

Try this: 6 Ways Kids And Parents Can Learn Chinese From Audiobooks

Photos of the Chinese Graded Readers (Chinese Library Series)

Fly High

This is one of the first books my daughter learned to read while we were using other Chinese leveled readers.

The Chinese Zodiac

This Chinese Lunar New Year book is a condensed version of Chinese Zodiac story.

We read this while using our realistic toy animals to act out the scenes and use our interactive printable Chinese Zodiac Wheel to review the animals.

Dong Dong the Golden Monkey – Time

This is a fictional story that introduces the concept of time.

This book can be paired with activities that teach kids time.

My Dad and I

This story may be relatable to school-aged kids with separated or divorced parents. It can be used to review family relationships in Chinese.

In summary, I highly recommend these books for non-native families who are learning simplified Chinese.

A wide range of relevant vocabulary is introduced with each story.

In addition, Pinyin and English will help with pronunciation and understanding of new Chinese characters.


Many websites and apps offer FREE multilingual books for kids!

Ximalaya FM is our favorite, and I highly recommend their free Chinese audiobooks for all kids!

Since the entire website and app is in Chinese, please refer to this guide on How to Use Ximalaya if you cannot read Chinese.

More Chinese books for kids

For all book recommendations, explore our favorite Chinese books for kids!

If you’re wondering where to buy kids’ books, click here for the most popular online Chinese bookstores!

Happy reading, friends!

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