Chinese Reading Progress: Videos of My Daughter From Age 3-6 Years

I have videos of my 老大 (oldest child) Chinese reading progress throughout this website, but I thought I would organize major milestones in one place!

Since we are in another long plateau/maintenance phase, looking back at old videos has been encouraging. These videos show how much my daughter’s Chinese reading skills have improved over the past few years!

Videos of my daughter's Chinese reading progress

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Our Chinese reading journey

As you may know, 老大 and I started the Chinese learning journey when she was 2 years old, and I was committed to learning Chinese as a busy parent. 

Together, we learned a handful of spoken Chinese phrases and Chinese characters.

However, we weren’t really consistent until 老大 was 3 years old and I was on maternity leave with my son.

Now, we speak the minority language consistently.

Chinese reading skills: improvement shown in videos

Here are just a few videos that demonstrate my daughter’s reading progress from age 3 to 6 years.

Improvement of Chinese reading skills undoubtedly takes significant time and practice.

In these videos, you’ll see how my daughter went from reading single Chinese characters to more fluid reading.

Chinese reading progress: from 0 to 1000+ Chinese characters

Since everybody is curious about character count, 老大 learned up to 1200 Chinese characters but forgot a couple hundred and has been hovering around 1000 characters for a few months.

She reads simplified Chinese 99% of the time, though she has learned an unknown number of traditional Chinese words through 巧虎 (Qiǎo hǔ) workbooks and hands-on Chinese activities with me.

Please refer to the detailed article about how I taught her to read Chinese characters despite my lack of fluency.

I pray that these examples can help your family’s learning journey! 🙂

Age 3 years 4 months

Reading a story that I wrote about our family’s trip to the zoo

At this age, I often wrote short Chinese paragraphs and stories for 老大 to read.

This helped me practice my Chinese skills while giving my daughter motivation to read since it was relevant to her.

On page 3, please forgive the grammatical error in my writing that our Chinese teacher later corrected and explained to us.

While 老大 has good character recognition, she reads single words without connecting them together.

Also, her tones are intermittently off.

At this point, she is oblivious to punctuation, such as commas and periods.  Around this time, we started using Sagebooks 500.

Age 3 years 10 months

Little Bear

老大 had completed the Chinese Greenfield leveled readers over the summer and seemed ready to start Chinese bridge books (early chapter books).  Her tones were improving considerably. After this video was taken, her teacher taught her how to blend ‘s with preceding words.

Although she is able to read rather fluidly by this time, she was intimated by long passages of text and often lost her spot while reading.

While she liked the stories in this series, she still preferred to read books with only 1-2 lines of text per page.  A couple months after this, we started 四五快读.

Age 4 years 3 months

四五快读 Book 8

This Chinese leveled reading series was very helpful for improving reading stamina for 老大!

In this video, she sounds tired because it’s past her bedtime and she’s sick with a cold.  But she wanted to stay up and keep reading!  (Anything to avoid sleep, right?)

Age 4 years 4 months

狼和七只小山羊

This video depicts the power of Chinese audiobooks.  狼和七只小山羊 was one of 老大‘s favorites at the time, and she memorized the story almost verbatim.

This month, she had re-enacted the Chinese story over and over again with her toy animals!

Sorry about the bad camera angle – my husband and I prefer to keep our kids’ faces off social media and the internet.

Age 4 year 9 months

第一次上街买东西

This is one of 老大’s favorite authors!  She listened to Chinese stories like this on replay via Ximalaya FM, and it significantly helped improve her listening, speaking, and reading skills!

Our Chinese teacher was away for several months, and Mandarin Chinese audiobooks were the main way that we were able to maintain our Chinese reading skills.

Age 4 years 11 months

The Giving Tree

老大’s Chinese reading level has been about the same over the past few months: no major improvements or jumps in progress.

This reading is actually not as smooth as the above video, and you can hear her getting stuck on a word half-way through the book.  But we are just enjoying stories that capture her interest and enjoy talking about them together!

In addition, we are working on being aware of how our voice sounds while speaking and reading, and how we can convey emotion and respect with our tone.

Although 老大 is able to enjoy chapter books like 加油小米啦, we were mainly reading picture books so that my younger child (age 2 at the time) could enjoy the illustrations.

Since we are not fluent, pictures provide useful visual cues to help us understand and remember new words.

Age 5 years 2 months

玛蒂娜故事书系列 (I Love Martine Series)

My daughter’s weekly Chinese teacher has been traveling again, so we are so thankful for lots of Ximalaya to keep up with native Chinese exposure.

Since 玛蒂娜故事书系列 (I Love Martine Series) is so realistic, she loves listening to the stories over and over again.

She’s also fascinated by medicine and hospital-related topics, so book 46 is currently her favorite.

I recorded her reading book 46 a couple weeks ago when she was ill, and it took about 18 minutes to read the story.

Since she was sick for much of December, we did not do much reading after that video, just resting and listening to Chinese audiobooks.

When she recovered from her illness, we re-recorded this story.

Wow a difference time and health can make!

Her Chinese reading became very fluid, and her reading speed also improved. This read took only ~13 minutes!

As you can see, listening to Chinese audiobooks can make a huge difference in Chinese reading skills!

Age 6 years 2 months

老大 continues to enjoy lengthier picture books but has a strong preference for Chinese bridge books (early chapter books).

She reads very quickly now and can finish a bridge book in under 2 hours with good understanding of the plot.

To improve her speaking, reading, and writing skills, her Chinese teacher has been working on a collaborative dictation journal with her.

Below is a video of her reading from the journal.

Recording Chinese reading progress

In case anybody is wondering, I was able to convince her to record a few stories by explaining to her that I like to listen to her reading after she goes to bed!

When she watches her old videos, she can also see how much her Chinese reading skills have improved.

She also thinks that it’s nice to share stories and encouragement with other Chinese-speaking families because she has been inspired by Chinese storytelling on YouTube.

Therefore, she has modeled the introduction of each reading from her favorite Chinese narrators!

Since my daughter doesn’t like me hovering over her with my phone camera, I have been recording with this camera stand.

Do you have any questions about how to improve Chinese reading progress?

Please let me know in the comments and I’ll try my best to point you in the right direction!

Advice on raising multilingual children

大家加油! You can do it!

5 Comments

  1. Hi,

    I feel a little overwhelmed and lost. I am homeschooling my girl and due to health reasons, I could not consistently teach her. Now, I am just teaching her using random activities. I am looking for a curriculum to guide me along. She is coming to 6 years old, but her reading level would be similar to 3-4years old. I was wondering if you know of any online curriculum that could help me as it is hard for me to get any materials shipped to me now given the current situation. Thanks!

    1. Hi Samantha! Thank you for reaching out, and I hope your family is safe and doing okay. For online curriculums, you may want to explore Little Chinese Readers (simplified and traditional Chinese) or Little Fox Chinese (simplified Chinese only). We have not used them, but other families have great reviews of both websites. If you are able to get physical books, Sagebooks and Le Le Chinese are great places to start. I hope these resources can help!

  2. Hi, I’ve been following your blog for a little while now and I just want to leave a message to say what an inspiration you are and how impressive your little one is with her reading and writing skills. I am fluent in Mandarin as I grew up in China and I’ve been trying to teach my 32 month old to read Chinese characters, words and phrases. Little one impresses us on a daily basis but I can’t say it’s all smooth sail. I come back to your blog and it reminds me of all the work you were willing to put through to make this happen. I always leave feeling inspired.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Lynn! Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share about your family! It’s so nice to know that we are sharing the journey together. Day by day, enjoy the time with your little one! 🙂

  3. Hi Betty,
    I am absolutely amazed at how well your daughter can read at such a young age of 3. I have mainly been focusing on trying to get my 2.5 year old son to speak in mandrin thinking that it is still to early for him to learn to read. But watching your videos has inspired me to teach him to also read. I love the idea of writing little stories, getting chinese books where I live is very difficult.
    Well done in doing such a wonderful job teaching your kids!

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