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Chinese Stories for Language Learners (Chinese Graded Readers/Chinese Leveled Readers)

Learn Chinese through reading short and simple stories that are graded to the appropriate level in Mandarin Chinese for language learners. Below you will find a collection of stories from Chinese Graded Readers (Chinese Leveled Readers).

The Chinese text and the English translations are presented side-by-side for easy reference.

If you are tired of boring texts and dialogues in teaching materials that are neither practical nor interesting, then you will love reading our Chinese stories. Our stories cover a wide range of topics, so you are bound to find the ones that interest you.

Our digital library has Chinese stories at all levels, from starter (HSK 1) to mastery level (HSK 6). It doesn’t matter what level you are at, you will be able to find stories that are suitable for your level to help you improve your Chinese reading comprehension.

If you don’t know your Chinese level, then check out the Know Your Chinese Level guide.

HSK 1 – HSK 2 Starter Level

新学校的第一天 – First Day at a New School

Story Theme: School life story in Chinese
Summary: Lee has just immigrated to the US with his family, but he doesn’t know a sentence of English. Today is his first day at the new school…
Chinese text with English translation

几个月前我们家移民到了美国。今天是我到美国新学校的第一天。我站在学校门口,新学校好大啊!比我之前在中国的学校大三倍。A few months ago, we immigrated to the US. Today is my first day at the new school in the US. I am standing in front of the school entrance, just realizing how big the school is! It is three times bigger than my previous school in China.
学校的大门很高,大概有6米。站在大门前,突然间,我第一天上学的兴奋感,变成了紧张,我的两腿开始发软。The front door of the school is really tall, probably about 6 meters. Standing in front of the door, suddenly, my excitement for the first day of school turned into nervousness. My legs are going numb.
我不知道在学校门口站了多长时间。我的脚动不了,因为我非常紧张和害怕。 从我身边走过了很多学生,他们在说话,但是我听不懂他们在说什么。啊!对啊!我只会用英文说:“嗨,我叫李珊珊”,此外就一句英文都不会说了。I don’t know how long I have been standing in front of the school. I can’t move my feet, because I am nervous and scared. A lot of students have walked past me. They are talking, but I don’t understand what they are saying. Oh! Right! In English, I only know how to say “Hi, I am Li Shan Shan.” Besides that, I don’t know anything else in English.
我的视线开始模糊,浑身发抖。 我开始讨厌我的爸爸妈妈。他们为什么要来美国?为什么要来到一个语言不通的国家?为什么要让我离开我的朋友们?我想回中国的家!My vision is starting to get blurry. I am shaking. I am starting to hate my mom and dad. Why did they have to come to the US? Why to a place where I can’t communicate? Why made me leave my friends? I want to go home, my home in China!

HSK 2 – HSK 3 Basic Level

如果没有明天 – If There Is No Tomorrow

Story Theme: A daily life story in Chinese
Summary: What would you do if there is no tomorrow? Watch this short and fun Chinese story to see how different people respond to the very question.
Chinese text with English translation

电视台在进行街头采访,问题是:“如果没有明天,今天就是你在这个世界上的最后一天,你会做什么?”A TV channel is doing a street interview. The question is: “If there is no tomorrow, and today is your last day in this world, what would you do?”
一个头发花白的老奶奶:“昨天做了什么,今天就做什么。对我这个老太婆来说,每天都是最后一天呀!”A gray-haired grandma: “I would do whatever I did yesterday. For me, an old woman, every day is the last day!”
一个20多岁的女孩:“那我要马上回家,和男朋友还有爸妈待在一起。”A 20-something lady: “Then I would go home right away, to be with my boyfriend and my parents.”
一位中年男士:“明天不可能是最后一天,如果是最后一天的话,你会在这工作吗?”A middle-aged man: “Tomorrow can’t be the last day. If it is, would you be here working?”
一个背着书包的小学生:“那我就不写作业了,我要去打游戏。”An elementary school student carrying a backpack: “Then I wouldn’t do homework. I would go play computer games.”
一个穿着西装的男人:“哈哈!我今天要把所有的钱都花光!”A man in a suit: “Haha! I would spend all my money today!”
一个遛狗的女人:“我应该回家躺着吧。什么都不干。”A woman walking her dog: “I would probably go home, lie down, and do nothing.
“汪汪!汪汪汪!” 旁边的小狗大声叫着。Woof! Woof! The dog next to her barks loudly.
它的主人笑着说:“它应该不想回家躺着,想在草地上玩。”Its owner says with a smile: “It probably doesn’t want to go home and lie down. It probably wants to play on the grass.”
一个5岁的小男孩:“没有明天啊,那有后天吗?后天…后天…我后天要去吃冰淇淋。”A 5-year-old little boy: “If there is no tomorrow… Is there the day after tomorrow? The day after tomorrow… the day after tomorrow… the day after tomorrow, I want to eat ice cream.”
那么你呢?如果没有明天,你今天会做什么?What about you? If there is no tomorrow, what would you do today?

HSK 3 – HSK 4 Intermediate Level

小灰兔的早餐 – Gray Bunny’s Breakfast

Story Theme: A fairy tale & fantasy story in Chinese
Summary: Would you choose to eat the food right outside your home or further away? Are you Gray Bunny or White Bunny?
Chinese text with English translation

夏天的早上,太阳照亮了草原,每一棵树,每一棵草,都被阳光染成了金色。A summer morning, sunlight glazed over the grassland, turning every tree and every stand of grass, into gold.
小灰兔还在睡觉,它在做一个甜美的梦。梦里,它来到了一片田地,那里都是自己最喜欢的胡萝卜。它拔了一个很大的胡萝卜,张开嘴巴正准备咬上一口。Gray Bunny was still sleeping. It was having a sweet dream. In the dream, it came to a land that was filled with its favorite carrot. It pulled out a big carrot. As it opened its mouth to get a bite,
“咚咚咚!” 它一下子就醒了。“咚咚咚!”原来有人在敲门。boom, boom, boom! It woke up instantly. “Boom, boom, boom!” Oh! Someone was knocking at the door.
它打了个哈欠,问到:“谁呀?”It yawned, and asked: “Who is it?”
“是我呀,小白兔!”It is me! White Bunny!
小灰兔打开了门,“小白兔,你怎么起得这么早啊?”Gray Bunny opened the door. “White Bunny, why are you up so early?”
小白兔开心地摇了摇耳朵:“听说那边有一片田地,田地里的胡萝卜都成熟了,要不要一起去吃早餐?”White Bunny happily wiggled its ears: “I heard there is a field over there. The carrots there are all ripe. Do you want to go there to have breakfast together?”
“真的吗?那片田有多远?”Really? Is it far from here?
“不远!不远!才30公里。咱们跑快点,半个小时就到了。”Not far! Not far! Only 30 kilometers. If we run fast, we can arrive in half an hour.
“啊?要跑半个小时啊?不去!不去!”Eh? Half an hour? I am not going. Not going.
小白兔只好自己出发了。小灰兔伸了个懒腰,感觉肚子有点饿。它走出洞口,在门口的草地上吃了起来。 心想:“这家旁边就有草呀,大早上饿着肚子跑那么远干嘛?”White Bunny had to go alone. Gray Bunny stretched and noticed it was hungry. It came out from its burrow, and started eating the grass right outside the burrow. It thought to itself: “There is grass right by my home. What is the point of running to a far place with an empty stomach?”
第二天,小白兔又来敲小灰兔的门,约它一起去山上的森林吃草。小灰兔也拒绝了,它继续吃着家附近的草。The next day, White Bunny came knocking on Gray Bunny’s door again, inviting it to eat the grass by the mountain top. Gray Bunny refused again, and continued eating the grass by its home.
第三天,第四天,第五天过去了。小灰兔洞附近的草都被吃完了。The 3rd day, the 4th day, and the 5th day went by. The grass near Gray Bunny’s home has all been eaten.
第六天的傍晚,草原上来了一群狼。它们非常轻松地发现了小灰兔的洞,把它抓住吃掉了。小灰兔因为懒惰,变成了狼的早餐。At sunset on the 6th day, a pack of wolves came to the grassland. They quickly discovered Gray Bunny’s burrow, and caught (Gray Bunny) and ate it. Gray Bunny was lazy, and so it became the wolves’ breakfast.

HSK 4 – HSK 5 Advanced Level

乡村医院 – The Countryside Hospital

Story Theme: A horror & suspense story in Chinese
Summary: It has been more than a few years since she last visited her hometown, but something happened to grandma and she had to go back…
Chinese text with English translation

林婷的老家在浙江绍兴的乡下,是一个典型的江南水乡。一条小河穿过村落,在不远处汇入长乐江,林婷老家的房子就在小河旁边,小时侯在河边和小伙伴们玩水打闹的场景仿佛就发生在昨天,一眨眼,10多年过去了。Linting’s hometown is in the countryside in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, a classic canal town. A small stream passes through the village and flows into the Changle River not too far away. Linting’s old house sits right next to the small stream. The memories of playing by the stream with her friends when she was a child felt like they happened yesterday. In a blink of an eye, ten years passed by.
林婷已经有4,5年没回老家了。自从她在上海上大学,爸妈就在上海郊区买了一个房子,全家都搬了过去。爷爷奶奶住在老家的房子里,每年冬天,爸爸妈妈会把爷爷奶奶接到上海去,春天的时候他们会再回老家,他们年纪大了,不习惯在新的地方生活。It has been 4 or 5 years since Linting last went back to her hometown. When she started attending college in Shanghai, her parents bought a house in a suburb in Shanghai, and they moved. Her grandparents lived in the house in their hometown. Every winter, Linting’s parents would bring them to Shanghai until spring. Then they would go back to their hometown. Since they were old, they were not used to living in a new place.
去年夏天,爷爷去世了,爸爸想让奶奶去上海,但是奶奶不愿意离开家乡。爸爸总是很担心,毕竟奶奶80岁了,没人照顾可不行。这不,担心的事情还是发生了,奶奶在老家晕倒了。Last summer, Linting’s grandpa passed away. Linting’s father wanted Linting’s grandma to stay with them in Shanghai, but she didn’t want to leave her hometown. Linting’s father was always worried (about Linting’s grandma). After all, Linting’s grandma was 80 years old. It was alarming that no one was taking care of her. See, Linting’s father’s biggest worry happened, Linting’s grandma fainted at home.
那天林婷给奶奶打电话,打了好几个都没人接,林婷只好打给同村的朋友王贺。王贺是她的初中同学,大学毕业后回老家创业了。 王贺去了林婷奶奶家,发现奶奶晕倒了,赶紧把她送到了附近的医院。That day Linting was calling her grandma, but she wasn’t picking up even after multiple calls. Linting had no choice but to call her friend Wanghe who lived in the same town. Wanghe was her classmate in middle school, he went back to their hometown to build a business after graduating from college. Wanghe went to Linting’s grandma’s house, and found her passed out, he immediately took her to the nearby hospital.
爸妈先一步赶了回来,林婷下班后也开车赶回老家。当她到达医院的时候,已是晚上11点半。这乡下的晚上可真黑呀!从停车场到医院大门要走500米左右,天上一个星星都看不见,月光被乌云遮住了,路上唯一的路灯也好像出了故障,一闪,一闪。平时田里聒噪的青蛙今晚不知道为什么如此地沉默。Linting’s parents came back first. (to the hometown) Linting drove to their hometown as soon as she got off work. When she finally got to the hospital, it was already 11:30 at night. Nighttime in the countryside couldn’t be any darker! The hospital entrance is about 500 meters away from the parking lot. Not a single star can be found in the sky. The dark clouds have covered the moonlight. There seems to be a problem with the lights on the road, blinking on and off, on and off. The frogs in the fields that are normally noisy, for some reason, are deadly quiet tonight.
林婷走在小路上,只能听到自己紧张的呼吸声,一阵冷风忽地吹过,吹得她打了个寒战。她赶紧跑了几步,终于到了医院大门,啊!这乡下的医院怎么这么大?!在茫茫夜色中,怎么看着有些诡异?The only sound Linting hears as she walks on the road is her own nervous breathing. Suddenly a gust of cold wind blows by, she feels a chill. She quickly picks up her pace, and finally arrives at the hospital entrance. Goodness! This countryside hospital is huge! In the darkness, the hospital seems a bit… creepy?
未完待续…To be continued

HSK 5 – HSK 6 Mastery Level

一个特别的新年习俗 – A Unique New Year’s Tradition

Story Theme: A Chinese culture story in Chinese
Summary: Besides having its own language, the Fuzhounese also have a unique New Year tradition that is the biggest event of the year. If you are interested in Chinese culture and traditions, you don’t want to miss it.
Chinese text with English translation

嗨,我是 Amy,我是华裔美国人,但是我出生在中国福州。福州是中国东南沿海的一个城市,我一直到12岁都在那里生活。 春节快到了,我想跟大家介绍一下福州人过春节时的一个特别的习俗。Hi, I am Amy. I am Chinese American, (but) I was born in Fuzhou, China. Fuzhou is a city on the southeast coast of China. I lived there until I was 12 years old. Chinese New Year is almost here, I want to share with you a unique Fuzhounese New Year tradition.
我小时候很喜欢过年,因为中国人过年非常热闹,大家会一起贴对联和窗花,放鞭炮和烟花,大人们会给小朋友们送新年礼物和红包,全家人一起做饭,吃饭,看电视节目,然后还会去亲戚家拜年。这种热闹的气氛让人觉得很幸福很有活力。I loved New Year when I was little. It is an extremely lively time around New Year for Chinese people, we hang up couplets, paper cut-outs, set off fireworks and firecrackers. Adults give children New Year gifts and red envelopes. The entire family cook, eat and watch TV together. Afterward, we will visit relatives to wish them a happy new year. This lively atmosphere makes one feel blessed and energetic.
除了上面说过的习俗,在我的家乡福州,还有一个非常重要的新年活动:游神。Besides the tradition mentioned just now, in my hometown, Fuzhou, there is a very important New Year’s event known as the Pageant of the Gods.
游神的”游“是游行的“游”,“神”是神仙的神,所以“游神”就是一群神仙在大街小巷游走,给人们送来祝福,保佑当地的居民在新的一年里幸福安康。游行队伍里有各路神仙:白马王,七爷,八爷等等。有些神明是被架子抬着的雕塑,大多数的神明是以顶“塔骨”的方式出场。“塔骨“是用竹子制作的空体神像,比普通人高大,游行的时候人钻入空心的塔骨中,顶着它参加巡游。 另外,队伍里还有其他身穿艳丽服装的人物,他们一般会敲锣打鼓,放鞭炮,以此提醒居民们从家里出来拜会神明,接受新年祝福。The “you” in “you shen” means parade, and “shen” means god. Therefore, “you shen” is an event where the gods stroll through the streets, to bring people blessings, and bring peace and happiness to the locals. There are all kinds of gods in the Pageant of the Gods. Some of them are King Bai Ma, Seventh Master, Eighth Master, etc. Some of the gods are statues that people carry during the pageant. A lot of the gods appear in the form of “Ta Gu”. Ta Gu is a statue of a god made using bamboo with a hollow core, it is bigger than a normal person. A person goes inside the hollow core, and lifts the statue to walk during the parade. In addition, other characters wear colorful costumes in the lineup, who beat drums, strike gongs, and set off firecrackers as a signal to inform the locals to come out to bow to the gods, and to receive New Year’s blessings from the gods.
为什么有这么多不一样的神仙呢?因为他们都各司其职,各有各的能力。 有的神仙可以保佑人们事业顺利,财源滚滚,有的可以保佑家里人丁兴旺,身体健康,还有的可以消灾辟邪。Why are there so many different deities? It is because they all have different responsibilities and abilities. Some deities bring prosperity to one’s life, career or business. Some deities bring health and prosperity to the family. And some deities ward off evil spirits and disasters.
但是无论是哪个神仙,对12岁的我来说,他们的共同点都是有些可怕。因为他们一般都身材高大,眉毛非常浓,眼睛瞪得巨大,还画着浓妆。Regardless of which deity, to the 12-year-old me, they share one thing in common, which is, they are all scary. Because they are built bigger than an average person, they have thick eyebrows with huge eyes, and heavy makeup on.
我看到每个神明都怕地一直后退。我还记得我最怕的就是一个叫做“孩儿弟“的,身穿粉色衣服的神明。有一次,我看到他远远地走过来,吓得立刻跑进屋里。没想到,他竟然追了进来,还在我的头上敲了一下。我当时被吓呆了,但是妈妈跟我说这意味着给我好运,因为他是专门保佑小孩的神仙。但是我怎么感觉我被敲了一下反倒变傻了呢?I was so scared of them that I kept backing off whenever I saw them. There was a deity called “Child Brother” that I was most scared of when I was little. Child Brother was a deity who wore a pink robe. Once, I saw him coming in my direction, I was so frightened that I immediately ran inside. Never in my wildest dream would’ve I expected him to chase me and follow me inside, (once he caught up to me), he hit my head. I was so shocked, but mom said that the knock on my head symbolized good luck because he (Child Brother) was a deity who protected children. But why did I feel like I was getting dumber after he hit me?
为了让大家可以更好地了解福州当地的游神是什么样子的,我在评论区里放了一个博客的链接,那里有一些游神的视频和照片,希望你们会喜欢。To help you have a better understanding of what the Fuzhounese Pageant of the Gods is like, I have included a blog post in the description. There are pictures and videos of the Pageant of the Gods. I hope you like them.
我最后一次参加游神是我12岁的时候。现如今已经过了20年了,我本以为我不会再害怕了,但是看了视频之后,我依然感到心有余悸,甚至有些惶恐不安。看来12岁的我应该是受到了一些心理创伤。不知道其他的福州小朋们会不会跟我有一样的感受呢?The last time I was there for a Pageant of the Gods was when I was 12. It has been more than 20 years since then, I thought I am no longer afraid, but after seeing the videos, I can say the fear is still lingering, if not worse. I guess the 12-year-old me was quite traumatized back then. I wonder if other Fuzhounese children felt or feel the same way.