Categories
Beginner

Children’s Story: 《小猴子偷玉米》Monkey Steals Some Corn

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. HSK 2-3.

Categories
Advanced

Letter: Famous 20th Century author Lu Xun writes to his friend in 1926

Lu Xun (鲁迅) lǔ xùn was one of China’s great 20th century writers and thinkers who felt that the heart and soul of the Chinese people had been sickened by the depravity and corruption that ran rampant after the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912.

Categories
Beginner

Children’s Story: 《大树公公》Grandpa Tree

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.

Categories
Beginner

China’s most famous poem: 《静夜思》by Li Bai

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.

Categories
Intermediate

Mythology: 《精卫填海》 from the Classic of Mountains and Seas

This one’s pretty cool, guys. Today, we’re going to take look at a short text that’s almost 2000 years old. This passage comes from the 《山海经》shān hǎi jīng, or The Classic of Mountains and Seas, an ancient compendium of mythological beasts that was formalized during the Han Dynasty – that’s around the same time as the Roman Empire.

Categories
Advanced

Novels: Start Reading “To Live” 《活着》by Yu Hua

Yu Hua (余华) is for sure my favorite author of Chinese modern lit. He writes the lives of ordinary village people, and like pretty much all great Chinese village-based fiction from the 20th century, the stories are full of vulgar realism, as you will soon see. But Yu Hua’s work is also tinged with bittersweetness, and for anyone with an HSK 5-6 vocabulary, his novels are surprisingly approachable.

Categories
Beginner

Children’s Story: 《小马过河》Little Horse Crosses the River

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 […]

Categories
Advanced

Modern Chinese Poetry: 《雨巷》by Dai Wangshu

Hey guys. Been a while. I’m studying Chinese IRL, so I’ve got less reason to focus on the blog, but I have been getting all the letters – thank you all. I’ve also received two guest posts that I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t put up yet. Apologies, it may be a while, but they’re […]

Categories
Intermediate

Children’s Story: The Little Polar Bear and the Doll Dance Together

Feels like it’s been a hundred years since I threw something up here. Rest assured I carry the shame of an un-updated blog around with me constantly, so – yay, guilt. I’m actually taking intensive classes in Chinese (yet again) to push my reading level higher, hence the lack of posts. I’m more active on […]

Categories
Beginner

Children’s Story: The “Beautiful” Rabbit

A fairly simple read for newbies about a self-hating rabbit.

Categories
Beginner

Story Behind the Idiom: 刻舟求剑 – Being too rigid in the face of change

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 […]

Categories
Intermediate

Guest Post: Story Behind the Idiom: 塞翁失马 – A blessing in disguise

Hey hey, lookie here, an excellent guest post submitted by native Chinese speaker Yang from Learn Mandarin Now. This story tells us a bit about the Chinese chengyu (idiom),塞翁失马, which can mean “a blessing in disguise”, or can conversely mean “bad luck disguised as good”. It’s used to point out the hidden positives or negatives […]

Categories
Intermediate

Novels: Start Reading 《最后一个阴阳师》The Last Yin Yang Master

Happy Year of the Sheep! Couple of days ago, I stumbled across the Book “The Last Yin Yang Master”, aka “The Last Onmyoji” 《最后一个阴阳师》, a supernatural ghost story available for free online. Grab the whole thing Zhuaji.com.

Categories
Intermediate

Story Behind the Idiom: 专心致志 – Single-minded devotion

Story behind the Chinese idiom 专心致志 zhuān xīn zhì zhì, which means “to do something with single-minded devotion”.

Categories
Intermediate

Guest Post: The History of Chinese Americans

Hey, whaddaya know! A guest post. Been a while since we got one of these. Many thanks to Ryan, who submitted recently. Ryan tells us: “This is a very interesting article about Chinese-Americans that shouldn’t be too hard for intermediate-level readers. The grammar in this article is fairly simple, and I could understand most of […]

Categories
Advanced

Science: Why are some peppers different colors?

Science! A quick paragraph about why peppers come in so many hues. Though the sentence structure here isn’t too bad and the article is very short, I’m classifying this as ‘advanced’ since several of the words are quite chemistry-specific.

Categories
Intermediate

Essay: Desk-chairs of the Future

This kid was asked to imagine the perfect desk-chair of the future – what it would look like, and what it would do – and boy, does he ever. The chair turns into all kinds of utopian machinery. It flies, it helps you sleep, and it carries your books to school. Sentence structure is pretty […]

Categories
Beginner

Essay: Catching Frogs

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.

Categories
Beginner

Poem: Dewdrops

A quick and simple poem about morning dew.

Categories
Advanced

History: The History of the Pencil

Woo, I’m on a roll this week. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the history here, not being a pencil history expert myself, but this read has a lot of good words for larnin’. I’d put this in the lower-advanced spectrum, as the sentence structure isn’t over-the-top literary, but there are a ton of [...]