Zhu De (朱德) is an early Communist folk hero, and the founder of the People’s Liberation Army (解放军), also called the Red Army (红军). This popular revolutionary story highlights his willingness to toil alongside the rank and file soldiers. HSK 3-4.
This song is a relic of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The melody was adapted from an old farmer’s folk song back in 1942, and became popular when Mao Zedong’s (毛泽东) cult of personality was in full swing.
One picky little horse doesn’t appreciate the food he is served, until he sees what everyone else is eating. Upper-beginner, bordering on intermediate, HSK 4.
In this short story, a garden rake (草耙 – cǎo pá) teaches one stuck-up kid a lesson in humility. HSK 3-4.
A little thrush (画眉 huà méi) trades one cage (笼子 lóng zi) for a bigger one, and doesn’t much like the upgrade. Suitable around HSK 3.
This is the first 成语 backstory I recall reading in class. It’s about a guy who can’t help but flaunt his superior skill in front of others, and the nasty surprise he gets as a result. This is upper-beginner, HSK 4.
This story is believed to have originated from a Buddhist sutra, the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra 《大般涅槃经》, donated to us by the content team over at Du Chinese. A challenge for HSK 2, should be smoother for HSK 3.
Mr. Coward’s home is invaded by mice, but he doesn’t have the gumption to do anything about it. Or does he? This little story will be comfortable at HSK 3-4.
This well-known nursery jingle that Chinese kids learn in kindergarten was written 1400 years ago, by Tang Dynasty poet Luo Binwang, who, in the tradition of great artists everywhere, did some jail time for dissing the reigning empress. You don’t get much sense of Luo’s rebellious side in this short poem, though – it’s about geese, and that’s about it.
In this one-paragraph read (HSK 2-3), Little Brother wants to help dad get ready to leave the house, but his contribution falls flat.
Poor little Mile (米乐) is so shy (害羞 – hài xiū), she never speaks, and her face turns bright red whenever someone speaks to her. This story is upper-beginner, will be a reasonably comfortable read at around HSK 4, and a do-able read at HSK 3 with a bit of effort.
Aw, reciprocity. An old man does a kindness for a little bird, and he receives a kindness in return.
A bite-sized story with repetitive sentence structure which seems to be about a fickle monkey who can’t focus long enough to enjoy his meal, but which is actually a gut-wrenching satire of my entire life.
This very sweet story about an old tree who sacrifices himself for the animals of the forest might be the longest piece I’ve ever found that’s suitable for a beginner (probably HSK 3-4) audience. Both language and grammar is mostly quite straightforward.
This bittersweet 1000-year-old rhyme from China’s artistic golden age is perhaps the country’s most well-known verse. Even better for beginners (HSK 2-3), it’s only a few lines long, and there are only a couple of difficult characters. In fact, this is such a perfect lesson, that the fact that I haven’t posted it until now may be a sign of early-onset dementia.
Yayzors, horsies. I know that when you first start reading, it’s hard to hold a narrative thread through a longer post, but give this one a try – 6 short paragraphs, all of them very straightforward. This one has mostly very beginner language, with a couple of intermediate or upper-intermediate words. The grammar, rather than […]
A fairly simple read for newbies about a self-hating rabbit.
Yang over at Learn Mandarin Now is spoiling me with all these guest posts. I’ve been struggling to find something that suitable for beginners lately – everything I stumble across ends up being intermediate. But this is a very good place for beginners to start reading chéngyǔ (成语 idiom) stories, because you’ll get an introduction […]
Though this post is beginner-level, it’s also very condensed. I’d say you’ll have to stop and remind yourself what something means every few words or so.
A quick and simple poem about morning dew.