红蜻蜓学前阅读计划 is a Malaysian children’s reading series from the Odonata Chinese publishing company. The 学前阅读计划 Red Dragonfly Preschool Reading Plan covers 1200 Simplified Chinese characters. However, the books may also be useful for beginners in Kindergarten and the lower elementary years.
About the Odonata Chinese Leveled Readers
- Title: 红蜻蜓学前阅读计划 Red Dragonfly Preschool Reading Plan, 48 books
- Publisher: Odonata
- Language: Simplified Chinese characters with Hanyu Pinyin support
- Audio: CD读音 (CD pronunciation) available at additional cost; note that no CDs are available for the highest level of books (幼儿900字-1200字 9th to 12th Hundred Words)
- Supplemental materials: 字卡 (flashcards), 辅助作业 (workbooks), and 幼儿自读故事系列 (self-reading books) at additional cost
- Where to buy: Odonatabooks.com
Odonata Chinese Leveled Readers Review
I highly recommend this set for any family that is learning simplified Chinese. We have done Sagebooks, Greenfield, & 四五快读 (in this order), and the stories are most interesting and varied in the Odonata Chinese readers.
- Covers 1200 characters
- BIG font; text is away from the pictures
- Pinyin for new words is small & unobtrusive on the bottom of the page, away from the text
- Lots of human-based stories but also anthropomorphic ones
- You can get flashcards, workbooks, and audio CD at extra cost.
- You don’t have to buy the full set; each book level and supplemental materials can be ordered separately
- Starting from book 1, page 4, a short sentence is already introduced!
- 幼儿900字-1200字 9th to 12th Hundred Words have no CD
Like many other leveled readers, the paperback series uses a staple binding, which means that the books are thin and don’t take up much space. The pages are stiff like card stock and not as flimsy as regular paper, though they can wrinkle if not handled with care.
Our experience with the Odonata Chinese leveled readers
General timeline: This past summer, my daughter flew threw the Odonata preschool readers in less than 2 months. Since we had already completed other major leveled readers, most characters were already familiar to my daughter. However, because I am learning Chinese along with her, the pace at which she completed the books was too fast for me. Like our experience with reading 四五快读 together, I was slower at remembering new characters.
Mondays were our “homeschool days” (detailed schedule in this post), and we would read a few of these books during “Chinese time.” While my daughter was intrigued by the Odonata stories, the rest of the week was generally spent reading other picture books.
I’m not sure if my daughter looked at the books in the first few levels on her own, but I decided to start our cooperative reading at the 300 level when the stories began to have longer sentences.
As usual, we took turns reading. For example, I would read one page, and then she would read the next. Although my daughter’s reading level is far superior than mine, she always wants to hear mommy read. I also need to practice to improve my skills and, most importantly, model dedication, effort, and humility.
As with all books, I did not expect my daughter to memorize all 1200 characters. In fact, I think she probably retained about 1000-1100 characters, depending on the day! Some days, characters are very easy for her to remember; other days, she needs some time to think about them. I am not worried at all though, because I know she will encounter these characters in other picture books. If it’s an important character that we keep seeing in many books, then we can play a game or create an activity if necessary.
Challenges with using Odonata Chinese readers:
- Starting at around 800-900 characters, we really needed for audio CDs due to our limited spoken fluency. Unfortuantely, no CDs are available for the most advanced books. There were many unfamiliar words and phrases that I had to look up in my Pleco dictionary app. Since my daughter’s Chinese teacher was out of the country for several months, I did the entire series with her. In any case, I prefer that my daughter’s teacher focuses on speaking spontaneously and not spend much time on reading. We desperately need to improve our spoken Chinese skills, but we do not have enough contact with native Chinese speakers. So character retention is always limited by this challenge.
- The Odonata preschool readers typically introduce several new words per book. As the level increases, each book includes several new words with Hanyu Pinyin. However, since the books are like true stories, there is not as much spaced repetition like Sagebooks.
- Over the summer, since my daughter discovered her love of audiobooks on Ximalaya, she preferred to read books that she had heard before. Since the highest levels of the Odonata readers had no audio, she was less interested in the books outside of our “homeschool” time.
What’s inside the Odonata Chinese leveled readers?
Here’s a peek at each of the levels! The first page of each book shows the number of new words per book, word list, and title.
Yellow: 幼儿首100字 1st-Hundred Words
Green: 幼儿200字 2nd-Hundred Words
While writing this review, I discovered that EDU Mandarin Learning Center has flashcards on Quizlet for the entire series! At some point, I would like to study the flashcards and practice re-reading the books so that I will be ready by the time my younger child is read to read! Although I think my daughter could benefit from reviewing the upper level books, I’m not sure that my daughter wants to re-read these series.
I am also debating about getting the writing workbooks for my daughter to learn how to write Chinese versus regular worksheets that you can print on the Arch Chinese website. I might opt for the latter since I have a paid subscription for worksheets. However, I do like that Odonata has words not only alone but also in the context of a sentence and also some activities. Therefore, kids can learn proper sentence structure while practicing writing. Two workbooks options are available at each color level:
- 学写字一上 (Learn to write)
- 学华语一下 (Learn Mandarin)
I will update this review if and when we get the workbooks!
More reviews and experiences with Odonata Chinese leveled readers
Other reviews about Odonata Chinese Readers:
- Various posts about Odonata and learning activities on Instagram (#odonatabooks hastag)
- 红蜻蜓学前阅读计划首100字 (Mrs. Elaine Teh’s Blog)
- 积少成多的阅读方式，看到了其爆发点 、红蜻蜓学前阅读计划 200字 (Mrs. Elaine Teh’s Blog)
Where to buy Chinese books for kids
- For more Chinese book recommendations for kids, please visit and bookmark this link of our favorite books! Every week, I will be adding book reviews to this website!
- If you’re wondering where to buy Chinese books for children, please click here for a list of the most popular online bookstores!
- To shop low book prices on TaoBao, here is the How-To Guide for using TaobaoRing.
Recommended articles about how to teach kids Chinese
If you need tips on how to teach your child Chinese, these posts are for you!
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- How To Get Your Child To Speak the Minority Language
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent
- 10 Ways to Get Your Child to Read Throughout the Day
- 6 Fun Ways to Assess Reading Comprehension With Kids!