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Common Chinese Stories


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Hi there

I was wondering if anyone knew of a list of classic stories which most Chinese people would be familiar with? For example, chatting to some friends today they mentioned the 玉兔 story behind 中秋节 and chinese people know the basic story behind 三国 (even of they haven't read the book) and stories about foxes turning into 妖s etc.

I was hoping to find a list such that if you were familiar with the outline to the stories, you would have a superficial understanding of many of those stories which are common knowledge for Chinese people but may be foreign for a lot of Westerners.

What I was hoping to do was to find such a list and then read some summaries concerning the basic plot of the stories (rather than reading the complete books/ original sources at this stage) to have a superifical understanding of these well-known stories.


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Cheng & Tsui publishers, Boston, does that. They have two graded readers' series to my knowing, "Readings in Chinese Culture Series", and "Tales and Traditions. Readings in Chinese Literature Series 1-4". I haven't held one of the first in hand, but I have one of the latter, and even though the sub title is "Literature", it features folk stories exactly like you mentioned. Each story is about half a page up to a full page in relatively large font.


What's also neat about them:

text is given both in Simplified and Traditional, on opposite pages

some vocabulary is given (Chinese-English) directly under the text.

Full translations in the appendix

alphabetical vocabulary list in the appendix

Nice stuff in my opinion :)

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Depending on your level, there is a series of books published in Taiwan called 中國語文補充讀物 (Supplementary Chinese Readers):








Each has 20 stories or fables. I think there are a few that get repeated, but not many. They actually run the gamut from fairly simple (中國寓言) to fairly advanced (中國人的風俗習慣), with most of them somewhere in between. They use Yale romanization, but it's pretty simple to learn and the books are great and well worth it.

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Thanks Ruben I read the previews of each book. Been interested in the 西游记 story for a while which I noticed in the contents of the third book.

OneEye, cheers for the series suggestion. Would you mind telling me the publisher? Had a look on baidu but not sure if I found the same series or other books with the same/similar titles. Does the series cover the 四大名著 stories?

I picked up (白话)聊斋志异 recently as quite interested in 画皮-esq stories. I imagine the more well-known ones might be in the 中國寓言 book?

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They're published by 正中書局. I don't know if it covers 四大名著 or 聊齋志異, but I doubt it (I only ever did a few lessons here and there). The stories are only a few pages each.

You can get kids' versions of 四大名著, so that may be worth looking into.

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Ruben thanks, this is what I was looking for to use with my boys. The Chinese textbooks they have, the readings don't have this kind of cultural knowledge they need to have. OneEye I think that is the same company that does the Practical Audio Visual Chinese textbooks?

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