This is Part 7 of my Building a Chinese Library for the Kids series.  

As I mentioned in my last post, which might not have been published yet as I’m jumping around, Taiwanese publishers seem to call all non-picture books that have illustrations as Bridging Books.  Since this means these books cover a wide range of reading level, I decided to put Early Readers (Level 1) in the last post, and Chapter Books (Level 2-4) in this post.  This will put you up to 4th grade.  Even though Chapter Books are considered Bridging books too, to me, you kind of need a certain level of reading skill to start reading these longer books.

To recap, the levels, taken from the 閱讀123 (Reading 123) series are:

  • Level 1: <5K characters.  Around 64 pages.  Picture to text ratio 1:1
  • Level 2: 5k-10k characters.  Around 128 pages.  Picture to text ratio 1:2 (1st-2nd grade)
  • Level 3: 10k-20k characters.  Only some illustrations.   (1st-2nd grade)
  • Level 4: 20k-40k.  Few illustrations  (3rd-4th)
  • Level 5: 40k+?

I only have Reading 123 in my possession.  So I’m not too qualified to give opinions on other books.  I gave a review of it here.    I will say that right now, most of the series by major publishers I don’t particularly love enough to want to spend money on.  As someone else said, the illustrations tend to look crude, or they’re translated from other languages.   The more I research other bridging books, the more I like Reading 123.

A super great website is this list from srbooks.  It lists 8-10 publishers and their Bridging Books, divided into different reading levels.  Sometimes the publisher books cross reading levels.  The srbooks website also will list some books as a 中年級 (3rd-4th) level though other people would put it at a lower level.

Sorry, I wish I had pics from all the series.  But I don’t.  I’ve provided links to Baby Library or Anson Books, which sometimes have pics.  Also note that the Reading Level and Grade Levels are only approximates.   Publishers don’t necessarily follow the format listed above.  Sometimes they have 5k-10k characters but only 64 pages with lower picture to text ratio.

I am not listing all the books that are singletons or part of a small series, e.g. just 4-6 books in a series.   There are also tons of other books that will go up to 4th grade, with zhuyin.  Those will probably go into another post after I’ve actually bought those books!

This post is really about books that are specifically designed and marketed by publishers as Bridging Books, save for Raold Dahl Series.   Publishers like CW Magazine actually invited authors to write books with the proper content level, age appropriate stories (often daily living type of stories), and characters higher up in the frequency list.

Book Series Index

Level 2 – 5-10k characters

I’ve attempted to list these by order of difficulty, whether it’s length or content.

Level 3 – 10-20k characters

Level 4 – 20-40k characters

Book Series Details

As I mentioned, I only have in my possession Reading 123 and 偉君上小學 Wei Jun Goes to School.  I’ve come across  香草魔女故事摩天輪, and 神奇樹屋 Magic Treehouse.  So the rest are what I’m gleaming from online sources.

故事摩天輪 Storybook Ferris Wheels (40 books, 80+ pages)

 This is primarily books translated from Japanese.  I’ve heard that it has the tone of other Japanese books.  Namely, gentle, warm and fuzzy, heart warming stories with animals as main characters. We’ve picked up one from Oakland Library and that was my impression as well.  Unfortunately it’s below Thumper’s level and above Astroboy’s level so it didn’t look too enticing to us.

小兵故事百匯 Xiao Bin Story Buffet  (48 books)

This series seem to be sold in two sets (Set 1, Set 2) and is the next set in difficulty to their Level 1 books 小兵快樂讀本.  I think because these books were published quite awhile back so I was unable to find any reviews on the books.

格林 Grimmes Press 酷愛閱讀橋樑書 (2 sets of 18 books, 64-144 pages)

I have one book each from Set 1 and Set 2.  We haven’t read them yet because I thought they were of a higher level.  Time to check them out again.  Many of these books are translated from European books.

法蘭茲 Franz & Friends (6 books)

This series look interesting because it’s translated.  So I know exactly what style of books it is.  The series doesn’t have that many pages but from the little I can find online, it looks like it’s heavy on the text.  I’m considering getting this series.

親子天下 CW Magazin 名偵探系列套書 Famous Detective (10 books, 140 pages)

The next level up from Nate the Great.  Japan has a long tradition of really great mystery books.  So you’ll find lots translated.  Sometimes publishers even translate into Chinese, Japanese translations of English books like Sherlock Holmes.  Thumper read both Nate the Great and this series and preferred this one.  The font size is pretty big, and there are more illustrations than text.   This is a popular series in Japan.  Apparently 700k books were sold.

親子天下 CW Magazine 怪俠佐羅利 Incredible Zorori (34 books, 96 pages)

This set is apparently even more popular and has sold 30 million copies in Japan, with children saying they prefer this over Harry Potter.  Is that even possible?  It looks to have more text than the Famous Detective series and I’m not so keen on the drawing.  But children must love it for a reason. The good thing about this set is that it was made into an anime and I can show the kids the anime after they’ve read the book.

小天下 gKids 故事飛行船 Storybook Aircraft   (12 books, 80-100 pages)

This is gKids lower level book, the next set is 故事奇想樹  Fantastic Story Tree These are translated books, some from Japan.

故事奇想樹  Fantastic Story Tree (28 books)

These stories apparently are also mostly written by Taiwanese authors.  Illustration to text ratio is 3:2.   The only difference between that and Reading 123 is that the books average 10k instead of starting at 5k.  There are a few sub-series that are very well know such as 用點心學校 (Dessert School).  I have 柿子色的街燈 and really like it.  But the illustrations just kill me.  Some of the books from Reading 123 (like 小壁虎頑皮故事集) look to be of the same style.  

髒小弟 (6 books) & 什麼都行魔女商店 (20 books) & 香草魔女 (15 books)

東雨文化 Kingin seem to specialize in those really cute Japanese girls books.  They have 3 sets that gradually grow in page number.  什麼都行魔女商店 Everything Witch Trading Company (excuse my terrible translations) is the Level 2 series about girls working in dress shop.  香草魔女 Vanilla Witch  seems almost equivalent in level, but with longer total pages.  I think is about a girl who inherited a large house and mixes essential oil?

If you’re looking for something for boys, you could try 髒小弟 Dirty Little Boy.

Reading 123 閱讀123 (60 books)

Read my detailed review on the series.

小魯 Tienwei Publishing 我自己讀的童話書 I Can Read Stories  (32 books)

This follows the 我自己讀的故事書 I Can Read Story Books Series in terms of level.  This has some translated, some Taiwanese author books.   I always like Tian Wei Publishing books, and the illustrations don’t look too bad.  (At least the inside pages)  Will report more after I buy the books!

偉君上小學 Wei Jun Goes to School (6 books)

Read my not so detailed review on the series.  This is a super famous series, and you can follow the Wei Jun from first grade to sixth grade.  The books appropriately grow in difficulty level.

羅德‧達爾 Raold Dahl Series (10 books)

Read my review of Charley and the Chocolate Factory.  I love the series, but it’s hard to put a level on it because there are 10 books and they’re all over the place in terms of page count.

神奇樹屋 Magic Treehouse (51 books)

Read my review of the series.   There is also a set of translated non-fiction encyclopedia related to the series.  I like the series because it’s a good way to get subject vocabulary in.   Some people have said that these books are 3rd grade level.  But I think that the beginning books can be read by kids in lower grades where as Happy Reading is definitely 3rd, perhaps closer to 4th grade level.

According to this website the English version goes from grades 2.5 to 4.1  so one could say then that the Chinese version goes from 3rd to 5th grade?  Definitely then the later books go up a reading level.

Happy Reading 456 樂讀456 (25 books)

The latest two series from the publisher is Happy Reading 456 and Happy Reading 456+.  Happy Reading 456 is Level 4 with 20k-40k characters.   I think of these as solidly 3rd grade and up books.  I’m ordering these books to check them out.  I’ve seen them at the Milpitas library, two sub-sets are a reimagining of Three Kingdoms and Monkey King story: 奇想三國  & 奇想西遊記.   Happy Reading 456+ will be detailed in next post on Upper Elementary books.

小兵出版社 Xiao Bin Publishing  小兵兒童叢書 Xiao Bing Children’s Books (42 books, 168 pages)

I don’t know much about this set of books, other than that it’s on 4th and 5th grade reading lists.  Since it has zhuyin, I’m including it here.  The link I provided has some pictures of inside pages.

2 comments on “Chinese Books for Lower Elementary Kids 中低級橋樑書, Part 1”

Leave a Reply