Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China

Supplementary Chinese Readers (中國語文補充讀物)


Recommended Posts

I've seen these books mentioned here and there, but never in much detail. I've been looking for a good reader using traditional characters, and the only other option I can think of would be Defrancis' books (there are the Mandarin Companion books, too, but those all seem to be around 50-60 pages long and at the 300-500 characters level).


The books that I've looked at are all over 400 pages long, so while they're not as long as the Defrancis books I'm guessing there's quite a bit of reading material in there. I was wondering if anyone here has experience with both Defrancis and the Supplementary Chinese Readers, and could give me a short comparison?


Also, I'm wondering what level these books are intended for. I've seen 1000-2500 mentioned, but presumably that's spread out over the whole series, so where to start? A couple of the books in the series focus on Chinese history, and all else being equal I'd prefer to start with those, but I'd rather start with a book that is closer to the 1000 character mark than the 2500 one.


I'm of course interested in anything else anyone might have to say about these books, and if you can recommend any other readers using traditional characters that aren't at the starter level, I'd be interested in that too.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

I have some of the DeFrancis books, but they're in a box in the US and I never spent enough time with them to give you a comparison. But the Supplementary Chinese Readers series is really outstanding.


I believe, in order of difficulty, Chinese Moral Tales is the easiest, followed by the Stories From Chinese History and Chinese Folk Tales books, and finally Chinese Customs and Traditions. I believe there's a book of short stories and a book of essays (散文) in the series too, both of which would be more difficult than the others by virtue of the fact that they're compilations of authentic, native material rather than texts written for second language learners.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks OneEye! Actually, your blog and a couple of your posts on these forums are some of the few places I've seen these books mentioned, so I'm glad you took your time to post here. :)


It's interesting that the Chinese Customs and Traditions books are more difficult, since (I believe) the first one is actually the second book in this series (after Chinese Moral Tales), while the second one was published much more recently. I guess that means the publication order isn't really any indicator of complexity.


Could you tell me a little bit about the substance of the books? I mean given that they are all pretty long (compared to most readers I've seen, anyway), I figure there must be a good amount of reading material in there, but I guess that depends on the format of the books. Do these books contain vocabulary lists and such, or is it just the stories?


I won't be back in Taiwan for a while, but I'll have a friend send me Chinese Moral Tales. If I like it, I can pick up the rest the next time I visit.


Thanks again!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I was going by the level at which ICLP has each book listed. They have Chinese Moral Tales at level 3, Stories from Chinese History and Chinese Folk Tales at Level 4, and Chinese Customs and Traditions at level 5 (none of them are core classes, of course, and I'm not sure how many people actually take them).


But I just checked, and it looks like the original series was:


Chinese Moral Tales

Chinese Customs and Traditions I

Stories from Chinese History I

Stories from Chinese History II


Chinese Customs and Traditions II was added later, along with Chinese Folk Tales I&II. I believe Chinese Folk Tales I is at about the same level as Chinese Moral Tales, with book II being a bit more difficult, maybe somewhere between Chinese Customs and Traditions I and Stories from Chinese History I. Chinese Customs and Traditions II seems the most difficult of the bunch.


The books do have fairly extensive vocabulary lists, with example sentences for many vocab items. There are discussion questions in some of the books, but not all. There's also a vocabulary index in the back.


One thing to keep in mind, though: they use Yale romanization and bopomofo only, no pinyin. Not a deal breaker, of course, but something to be aware of.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...