A very basic story about a young elephant who learns a valuable life lesson.

Basic Chinese Reading PracticeThere is one particularly difficult sentence here, and that’s 小象爬到树去学飞“哎哟”一声,摔了一个大跟头. The words themselves aren’t too hard, but the sentence arrangement doesn’t make a lot of sense when directly translated into English. Let’s take it step by step:

小象 – Little Elephant
爬到 – Climbed to / climbed up
树 – tree
去 – go
学飞 – learn to fly
“哎哟” – ‘Ai yo!’ Sound which means “Yikes!” or “Ow!”
一声 – Noise, sound
摔了 – to fall
一个大 – a big
跟头 – Fall, trip and fall.

If you look at all these words together, you can more easily process the overall meaning of the sentence, which is, “In order to learn to fly, Little Elephant climbed a tree and, with a yelp of “Ai Yo!”, fell heavily to the ground.”

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小河 – xiǎo hé – Brook, stream
飞来飞去 – fēi lái fēi qù – Fly back and forth, fly here and there
爬 – – Climb
跟头 – gēn tou – Trip and fall, take a fall
本事 – běn shì – Ability, skill
宽 – kuān – Wide
不能比的 – bù néng bǐ de – Cannot compare
钩 – gōu – Hook







On the third day after he was born, Little Elephant went with his mother to the banks of a stream, and there he saw a bird in the sky flying here and there. Little Elephant said: “If I could fly, I could see even more things, it would be great!”

In order to learn to fly, Little Elephant climbed a tree and, with a yelp of “Ai Yo!”, fell heavily to the ground.

Seeing this, the snake said: “Little elephant, we all have our own abilities. I can’t fly, but I can sleep in a tree.”

Lion said: “I also can’t fly, but I can jump across a wide river.”

Tiger said, “I can’t fly, but I can swim!”

Little Elephant’s father and mother said to him, “We elephants have great strength, incomparably greater than that little bird’s.”

Little Elephant understood. He used his long nose as a hook and moved a large branch.

53 comments to "The Little Elephant that Wanted to Fly"

  1. Thank you for posting this story, it was officially the first text I’ve read in Chinese !

    The Little Elephant was a really pleasant read, and your commentary / vocab list were both useful. I’ll be sure to read your other stories as well :)

  2. thx for this story and and other stories.

  3. This is fantastic. It’s exactly what I need to improve my Hanzi reading. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. Thank for your lesson. I am really interested in this way of study chinese.

  5. Reply Kuldeep Sharma says: July 23, 2013 at 5:19 am

    This is the first long tex..that I read with confidence ,,thanks a lot

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  6. Ahh, the tiger knows how to swim, not jump over the river the english translation is wrong
    other than tht it is very good!


  8. Cool story

  9. I can fly

  10. This is STUPID I HATE it!!!!!

  11. I believe I can fly

  12. Reply Random person who doesn't have a name says: January 25, 2016 at 2:58 pm


  13. Yo yo yo my name is Joe!!

  14. Heyo

  15. This is so good but it’s so short!

  16. Who is “yo”

  17. I am a zombie that eats people’s arms and brains

  18. I’m an elephant that can fly

  19. Fart!!!!!!!!

  20. this is weird LOL

  21. what does LOL mean

  22. Reply Uzbekistan _boy says: February 5, 2016 at 10:48 am


  23. I do not care about my name so it is the best name in the world! FART BOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Cash money

  25. Hello poop heads

  26. Reply Uzbekistan _boy says: February 5, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Your mean

  27. My name is blank

  28. Hi guys

  29. Hi hitthequan my name is blank

  30. I’m a girl and nice too me to


  32. Reply ⚽️⚽️ says: February 5, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Can elephants play ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️

  33. No

  34. Doesn’t anybody think this is a spinoff of dumbo?

  35. Can elephants play ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️ or football?

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