[Book Review]—Mandarin Companion Graded Readers

I am currently obsessed with grader readers! Even if you don’t specifically know the term “graded reader,” you’re almost certainly familiar with the concept. A graded reader is a book that is written using a limited amount of unique words (or in the case of Mandarin, unique characters) to suit readers at a certain level. I remember using graded readers when I was a child learning to read back in elementary school! How can graded readers help us with our language studies?

Why should we use graded readers?

Graded readers are awesome because they make extensive reading—reading for a long period of time—accessible even to those with limited vocabularies. The subject matter does not have to be simple just because the vocabulary is, either. Graded readers are published with all kinds of subject matter so even adults who are just learning to read for the first time or second/foreign language learners who are a bit older can read something that is comprehensible but not too childish for them. My point is, graded readers are an awesome part of reading education!


Mandarin Companion

Anyway! Now that you know what graded readers are, I want to introduce the ones that I’ve been using lately. I first heard about Mandarin Companion’s graded readers a good while ago, but I sort of let it go in one ear an out the other because I definitely wasn’t near being ready to read at that point. However, a friend recently brought them up to me again as I was lamenting that I had finished HelloChinese and wasn’t sure what to do next, so I decided to check them out again. I’m so glad I did!

Mandarin Companion’s graded readers take English-language classics and give them a Chinese twist while shortening and simplifying the tale. They have stories like “The Secret Garden,” “The Prince and the Pauper,” “The Monkey’s Paw,” “Sherlock Holmes,” and more. I’m currently reading “The Sixty Year Dream (六十年的夢)”, which is based on “Rip Van Winkle” (which I have never read before, so the story is all new to me). The readers are available in print and digital formats—as you can see, I went with the digital.

What’s so good about it?

I really love that most of their readers are available in not only simplified but also traditional characters! You guys should know my love for traditional characters already :> Also, the glossary in the book is great and, at least in the Amazon Kindle format that I have, very easily accessible with in-text links. The feeling of being able to read books in a new language is SUPER rewarding, and since you’re reading a story, it doesn’t feel so much like studying. You do have to pay for these readers, but the digital formats are inexpensive (less than 7USD per), which is definitely fair for such helpful, quality content.


Ultimately, I would definitely recommend these readers to anyone trying to bring a bit more fun into their Mandarin studies. Also, I will be on the lookout for graded readers in Korean and Japanese to review! If anyone has any recommendations, let me know so I can take a look 🙂

Happy reading, and happy studying~