I keep searching for my post of Chinese Reading Levels whenever I try to determine Thumper’s reading level.  Looking through the archives, it seems that I got confused by the levels myself and mislabeled them for awhile.  So spent some time today to re-research and re-organize.

The levels are a combo of the often cited reading levels articles by Tian Xia Magazine 天下 and what I saw in the jacket cover of the books by 東雨文化 Kingin Publishing.

Below, I present my Chinese Reading Levels.

Updated 12/18/2017: I added my thought of equivalent grade level for easier reference.  If you look at the Taiwanese recommended reading age for these books, they encompass a very wide range (bridging books go up to 10 year old!).  But I’ve shortened this range to “at grade level” instead, as a 10 year old reading a 5000 character bridging book is probably a bit behind.  Or maybe the book is still of interest to a 10 year old, but at grade level they probably could be reading something else. 

With this system, the child will have mostly finished Reading 123 series by 2nd grade level, which is my marker for being at “grade level” to Taiwan.  Keeping in mind many Taiwanese kids will probably surpass this level in in 2nd grade, just like in the U.S. with kids reading English books. 

You can also ignore the lexile level.  It’s for my own reference for the online Chinese books catalogue I’m building.

  • Board Books (0-3 yrs old)
  • Picture books (0-2500 characters), Kindergarten
    • baby picture books
    • toddler picture books
    • preschooler picture books
    • Level 0 (k-1st grade level picture books)  Kindergarten, 25L
  • Bridging books (6-8 yrs old, ~1st-3rd grade)
    • Level 0 (0-2500 characters) (32 pages)  Kindergarten, First Grade, 25L
    • Level 1 (2500-5000 characters) 1:1 ratio (~64 pages), First Grade, 100L
    • Level 2 (5k-10k characters) 2:1 ratio (64-128 pages), First Grade, 200L
    • Level 3 (10k-20k characters) 3:1 ratio, 2nd grade, 350L
    • Level 4 (20-40k characters) (150+ pages) mostly no illustration, series books, 3rd grade, 550L
  • Advanced Bridging Books (8-10 yrs old, ~3rd-4th grade)
    • Level 5 (40k-70k characters) 550L, 700L
  • Children’s Literature 70k+ (10 yrs old+, ~5th grade and up), 800L, 900L, 975L, 1100L, 1150L, 1200L, 1250L

What I did was to add a Level 0 because there is a huge jump in reading skill between reading that first 32 pages in Little Bear (小熊看世界)versus reading a 64 page book like Lulu and Lala (露露拉拉).  I arbitrarily put down 2500 characters because that’s how the leveling seem to work, doubling for every level.

Magic Treehouse is considered Level 4 because the author who coined the levels considered Level 4 to be when children can start reading series.  But, they don’t really have as many characters as other books that are truly of the 20-40k characters range.  Each book has only about 100 pages of large font text.  Plus the language itself is much easier than say, books from the Happy Reading 456 樂讀456 series.

I also arbitrarily assigned grade levels to them.  If you look to Taiwan, I think you will find children reading Level 4 books in 1st and 2nd grade.  But again, there’s a huge range in these books.  The number of pages may not increase much, but the fonts get smaller and the amount of illustrations shrink.

For picture books, you will also find a range.  There  are definitely certain types of books geared toward babies, basically vocabulary books.  Then there are those for toddlers; cute books about toddler daily life.  The Little Chicks 小雞 or books by Tomi Goro are a good example.

Some picture books are very long with very small text, such as the I Love Martine series or the Little Mr. and Misses series.  Though they were not designed as bridging books, which have easier vocabulary and more frequently used Chinese characters, they can still be used as a Level 0 reading book.  When children just start learning to read, they overlap a bit between the two types of books.

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