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AlexanderH

Comic Books / Children's Books to train reading ?

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AlexanderH

Hey all --

I finished a basic semester of Intro to Chinese, so I know maybe 3-400 characters and can do some decent speaking.

I'm interested in finding some basic reading materials to reinforce proper sentence structure in my head, as well as learn more grammar and vocabulary.

Can anyone recommend a comic book series, book series, or children's book series that I can order in order to practice?

Thank you

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trisha2766

I like learning from kids book myself - China Sprout has quite a few. Many, of not most or all of them were originally published in English. Kind of on the expensive side if you ask me though, at least if you buy very many of them. I think it is easier to find what you are looking for on their catalog rather than their site too. You really have to check each book to see if they are simplified or traditional characters, whether or not they include pinyin or if they are bilingual with English translations. For some of the story books that were originally published in English, I went to the library and borrowed the English versions so that I could make sure I was understanding what I read better. They have some Magic Treehouse books that are bilingual. I have mixed feelings about that, overall I'd rather not have English because it might be distracting, on the other hand it could help with making sure you understand the meaning better.

China Books also has some children's books. They tend to be cheaper too, although shorter and softcover. I just ordered some that include pinyin. I kind of feel like I will be cheating, but the pinyin will make it much easier to look up words I don't know - and I'm sure there will be a lot. Textbooks for adults don't teach that many animal and other words common in kids books.

www.studychineseculture.com has some Tom and Jerry comic books. Otherwise most comic books I've seen so far in Chinese are the classic Chinese novels written in a more simple form, sort of like a comic book. Since they are in China it takes a while to get stuff in the mail from studychineseculture.com though. But they also have Spongebob vcd/dvds if you are looking for any kids material for listening skills.

Harry Potter can be bought at any of these places in Chinese, but it is quite a but more difficult to read. I wish I could find something in between children's story books and Harry Potter in difficulty like Goosebumps or Magic Treehouse, but in Chinese only with no pinyin.

Even though they are not for kids the Chinese Breeze Graded Readers might be worth checking into also - there are a few threads around about those.

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aristotle1990

Tintin!

http://www.amazon.cn/mn/detailApp/ref=sr_1_10?_encoding=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265600848&asin=B000YGHVG6&sr=8-10

The stories are awesome (of course), and the Mandarin is not especially difficult. A lot of great vocabulary is introduced in context, and because it's a comic book (graphic novel?), the words are reinforced with pictures. See Tintin hauling his dog up onto the deck? Boom, now you know 拽...

Get the whole set for $30, a steal when you consider that each would be around $10 in English. I don't know if what's currently for sale on Amazon is one of the myriad pirated versions or not, but you can get them in Beijing's Wangfujing bookstore.

Oh, and Goosebumps is available in Chinese under the name 鸡皮疙瘩. They're not difficult to read.

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Hobbes828

! I thought I had seen Goosebumps around but I wasn't confident enough to speak up :)

with 300-400 characters, you aren't really going to understand much beyond some books for first graders (which I personally can't stand but apparently some (trisha among others) like). Graded readers like Chinese Breeze are highly recommended, I read most of the Red ones and it really helped my reading and then I did 2 or 3 of the Green ones (500 characters?) as well. Wish they would release the higher ones already, but I think I might be past them by the time they come out.

Once you get a little higher, I am reading Detective Conan (7 rmb full price at a bookstore for each 150 page comic). Read #1-4 so far and I just alternate between either skipping detective words / words I don't know or taking time to look them up and remember them. Works out pretty well, and despite it aimed at primary students the stories are mysteries with actual murders, etc. putting it at a much more enjoyable level than Pokemon or those Sheep or whatever else the kids are reading these days in China :)

My 2c.

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atitarev

trisha2766, I suspect you may be using your Japanese learning experience in Chinese. Japanese comics (manga) often come with Furigana (Hiragana symbols written above or next to Japanese Kanji). They don't do this in China or other countries where Chinese comics are published. So Chinese comics may not be the easiest way to boost your reading. There will be too many characaters/words you don't know. There are books though, that come with both Chinese characters and Pinyin, if you are looking for them.

Try these:

注音故事乐园 (Zhùyīn gùshi lèyuán) series

Or:

Graded Chinese Reader thread

Your number of characters (hence number of words, I think) seems to be low to rush into intermediate level books, though.

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cababunga

Here are some bilingual web comics at http://www.mandmx.com/

Although I find it more productive to read something that you can at least copy/paste into a dictionary.

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renzhe

Reading comics is not QUITE as easy as some people imagine, because of the absence of phonetic aids, which means you need to look up characters you don't know, which is difficult for a beginner.

Still, they are an excellent resource for people who can read a bit, but are nowhere near reading a proper novel. Comics are often more interesting than specially constructed stories for learners. If you're approaching the 1000-character mark, you should definitely give some cool comics a try.

For people only starting to read, I recommend Doraemon. It's ubiquitous in China, and the grammar and vocab is very simple.

Ranma 1/2 is great for people who can read simple stuff already. I finished all 7500 pages of it :)

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xiaotao

There is a series called Easy Chinese Readings in 500 Characters, (3book)

1. Chinese Traditions and Festivals, 2. Life in Beijing 3. Chinese Myth and Folktales

Then there are the Tales and Tradition Series and Reading in Chinese Culture Series from Cheng and Tsui.

These books are for learners and I feel are easier than chinese children's books.

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trisha2766

That's so cool that Goosebumps books are available Chinese! I asked China Sprout about them and they said they could get some in. I think they will be a good choice to read before trying Harry Potter.

atitarev - I don't know any Japanese. I was a bit surprised to see that the Tom and Jerry comic book is so small, the print is hard to read. And they do have the classic Chinese novels in a sort of comic book style at studychineseculture.com with pinyin. Comic books I was used to as a kid were like Richie Rich (I can't believe I'm admitting in public that I read a lot of those), which were more like thin magazines, but nearly standard size, but thin paper. These are more like books, with the text below the pictures, not in bubble things. Here's example: http://www.studychineseculture.com/book.asp?id=4719 , there are couple sample pages to look at.

I'm a bit surprised at how many words there are in the children's books I got from chinabooks.com that I don't know. But luckily they have pinyin. While it feels a little bit like cheating, it sure makes it easier to look up the words. And then I can make them into flashcards. And I can tell I'll learn a lot from them and improve my reading ability pretty fast. I seem to be able to memorize new characters faster now than I could in the past. I don't know why.

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Daan

I think someone else on here pointed out that children's books contain a lot of vocabulary that adults never use, but that everyone knows all the same because they learned those words as kids. And if I look at Dutch children's books, I can only say that's true: I would never use some of those words, but I still know what they mean.

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aristotle1990

How about the entire Dragon Ball series? With a practically never-ending, addictive story, you'll finish all 42 volumes in...well, I dunno when you'll finish them, but you can get them for 293 RMB on Amazon.cn, which will ship internationally.

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chrix

I loved Dragonball when growing up, but it does peter out towards the end... And the violence and sexual innuendo (though in a lighthearted way) might not be for everyone.

I think Doraemon would be a safer bet. They also have "long story editions", i.e. a story spanning an entire comic book rather than shorter stories...

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darvil

First of all, I'm taking Chinese at a local college here. This is my 2nd semester (of the first year) and we're using Integrated Chinese for the class. Currently we're about 200 chars in so I'm quite a newbie. I don't know Chinese at all even though I grew up watching lots of Chinese movies/series. The tones aren't as problematic for me since I also speak 2 other tonal languages (SE Asian).

Right now I'm interested in trying to improve my reading and after filtering through the forum threads, I've found alot of great information. Now I know this is kind of a stretch but I was wondering if there might be manga where I could copy and paste text. Perhaps texts that comes with the scanned manga images? I browsed through verycd and got myself a few mangas and also got myself the same manga with english translation. The problem is since I'm rather lacking in characters, I will need to look up alot of words. This will be an issue for me. Should I get an electronic dictionary or would using a site like www.mdbg.net be good enough? (although I haven't learned how to look up chars yet).

Thanks to this forum I found sites like slowchinese which comes with a PDF that I can copy and paste to sites like www.mdbg.net (although I think slow chinese is too much for me). I will also get my hands on those breeze books that I hear some people rave about on this forum. They look good.

The problem I have right now is how unstimulating reading through the textbook is. I know when I was learning English, I picked up short novels with a trusty dictionary and struggled through it. Even though I would have to look up words all the time, I enjoyed the process and wrote down the words with notes on paper (this was before I had a fancy PC). I would like to do this with Chinese but of course with an easier start. I was just hoping I would copy and paste the manga text.

This brings me to another question; How many characters is a reasonable amount for one to read through these mangas with little issue?

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chrix

I personally prefer the good ol' approach with paper dictionaries. Many online dictionaries amount to mere word lists, and won't be of too much help to the learner.

Get a good pinyin-ordered dictionary (like the 21st century Chinese-English dictionary), and use online stuff as a supplement. You'll learn how to look up characters soon enough, don't be discouraged by the fact that it will be excruciatingly slow at the beginning.

I don't know about any manga sites that have the text in a electronically readable format. It wouldn't be likely, as those sites are all geared towards native speakers. The character level you need depend on the manga. Beginners should maybe start with something like Doraemon, followed by Dragonball, and Conan the Detective even later....

(Merged)

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renzhe

Looking up characters is a legitimate concern when you don't know too many characters. Even if you know how to look them up by radical and stroke count, doing this over and over again with a paper dictionary will make the whole reading process painful.

If you have a grip on the basic stroke order, you can try using http://www.nciku.com/. which lets you handwrite characters. Nciku uses several dictionaries and will provide example sentences for seeing the words in context.

Alternatively, you could look them up in an online dictionary like xiaoma cidian, which have a radical index.

Of course, a paper dictionary is much better, but a bit of a hassle if you can only read a couple of hundred characters.

This brings me to another question; How many characters is a reasonable amount for one to read through these mangas with little issue?

With little issue?

Upward of 1000. Over 2000 for teenager things like Ranma 1/2. Less than 1000 for children's stuff like Doraemon (though odd characters will still pop up from time to time).

This doesn't mean that you can't enjoy them with less. I fought my way through loads of comic books before I started reading a proper book, and I found it extremely useful for improving reading speed.

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chrix
Even if you know how to look them up by radical and stroke count, doing this over and over again with a paper dictionary will make the whole reading process painful.

It becomes better with time. I think you have to start somewhere....

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renzhe

True, but it's always slower than an online lookup.

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chrix

Not necessarily. If you're an experienced dictionary user, you can be quite quick... (I mean you're not always in front of a computer either) Especially if it's pinyin ordered. I mean this is also the best way to familiarise yourself with the radicals...

千里之行,始於足下

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Gleaves

Some good suggestions in here.

Roald Dahl is also available in Chinese (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, etc.). I ordered James and the Giant Peach from Bookseed (which is based in San Francisco). They have a set of 12 Dahl books for $50.

As far as characters needed, renzhe's estimates seem pretty good. At about 1500+ characters, I was able to work through 死亡笔记 (Death Note - a very good adolescent manga), and at around 2000 I was more comfortable with it. As always, you really need the words to go with the characters.

As far as looking up characters/words, I highly recommend a portable device of some sort if you don't mind spending the money. I use an ipod touch with pleco. The handwriting recognition is excellent.

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chrix

It's true that if I can't find a character using the old traditional method (the character index of my favourite dictionary is a bit incovenient as it doesn't show the stroke count individually), I resort to the IME handwriting recognition - a tool free of charge :mrgreen:

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