Stories aren’t just for bedtime.
A good short story can be the perfect complement to a Sunday afternoon or Tuesday work break.
Better yet, you can read them in Chinese for an incredibly interesting learning experience—both linguistic and cultural.
So we’re going to show you how to take advantage of Chinese short stories and where to find them online.
Why You Should Read Short Stories in Chinese
It goes without saying that reading in Chinese will help with your language skills. The first reason why we especially like short stories is that they’re, well, short!
- They’re short. Trying to read a book or novel in Chinese can be intimidating at first, so short stories are a fantastic way to ease yourself into reading in Chinese. Most short stories can be consumed in less than 30 minutes, and some may take only 10 minutes. This makes the stories perfect for snack-sized Chinese studying that can be done during your lunch break or whenever you have a little bit of time to spare and want to give your brain a short workout.
- They’ll grow your interest in Chinese. Stories really draw out our emotions and entertain our minds. Learning by reading short stories can increase your interest in Chinese culture and help you get more enjoyment out of the learning process.
- They’ll improve your instinct for natural-sounding phrases. We’re sure you’ve already noticed that when you speak a language fluently, you’re speaking partly by instinct. When you speak your native tongue, for example, you’re no longer thinking about good sentence structure or what colloquialisms are most appropriate. Rather, it all comes from your “gut” knowledge.
It’s the same with speaking Chinese. You need to develop an inner “gut” knowledge for what sounds right. Reading Chinese short stories immerses you in more popular ways of expression, and helps you build this instinct for native Chinese speaking.
- They’ll push you to the next level. In order to improve, we all need a little challenge. A Chinese short story, with all the new words and phrases you might encounter, will provide just that. If you persist by continuing to read, learning through context and committing new words to memory, you’ll take your Chinese skills to the next level.
Handy Tools for Reading Short Stories in Chinese
Most conveniently, you can use the help of apps and online dictionaries for quick translations and definitions while reading short stories online.
One excellent tool is a Google Chrome extension called Perapera Chinese Popup Dictionary. This extension acts like a popup dictionary that follows you around the Internet. Anytime you encounter Chinese text in your web browser, you can hover your mouse over the text and Perapera will provide definitions and pronunciations for you.
Another tool we recommend is an online dictionary, such as MDBG. MDBG is especially useful because it provides both traditional and simplified characters, as well as Mandarin and Cantonese pronunciations. So for someone who’s spending time in both China and Hong Kong, or wanting to get a broader understanding of Chinese, MDBG is quite helpful.
You can also use FluentU for reading practice with built-in learning tools. FluentU takes real-world videos—including cartoons, news, skits and other types of stories and content—and presents them with interactive text.
Beyond online tools, you might want to take advantage of offline resources as well. Learning how to use a hardcopy dictionary, for example, forces you to learn Chinese radicals (the only way to look up words in the Chinese dictionary), which is extremely beneficial for mastering Chinese.
Just because you’re reading short stories online, doesn’t mean that you can’t combine it with offline learning. Consider printing out one of those stories (which is more convenient for reading on the bus without overusing your data plan) so that you can mark it up with pencils, colorful pens and highlighters.
However you play it, Chinese short stories can be a fresh and fun addition to your regular study regimen.
If you’re wondering, “Where can I find some good Chinese short stories online?” we’ve got you covered! Here are eight convenient places to find Chinese short stories for your leisure or study reading.
7 Marvelous Sites for Reading Short Stories in Chinese
Wattpad is a popular destination for online English readers, but did you know there are also Chinese authors on Wattpad?
Although Wattpad stories have chapters (called “parts”), they’re generally much shorter than full-on novel chapters, and cater to mobile reading.
Note: This site uses traditional Chinese, which is why the recommended titles below are also written in traditional characters.
- “這樣的我 , 是否能夠喜歡那樣的你“ (zhè yàng de wǒ, shì fǒu néng gòu xǐ huān nà yàng de nǐ) The Way That We Are, Can We Still Fall in Love — A modern romance exploring the lives and complicated love stories of urban working millennials.
- “人生「徐」筆 (一) : 人與事“ (rén shēng xú bǐ yī : rén yǔ shì) Life Thoughts Part One — Short essays on practical wisdom, thoughtful reflection and life tips.
2. 短美文网 (duǎn měi wén wǎng) Short and Beautiful Writings
Here’s a collection of great and recommended short writings, including some poetry. When you first enter the homepage, you’ll see all the categories listed at the top-right of the logo.
- “有一种青春叫宿舍” (yǒu yī zhǒng qīng chūn jiào sù shè) Dorm Life — On the little things only those who’ve lived in a school dorm would appreciate.
- “品 ‘笑'” (pǐn xiào) On Laughter — A short reflection on humor.
3. 短文学网 (duǎn wén xué wǎng) The Art of Short Writing
This is another great collection of online short stories that are worth checking out. Story categories are listed at the top of the homepage, once again.
If you look on the right, you’ll see rankings for the most popular stories of the week. Scroll down a little bit, and you’ll see rankings for the best authors as well.
- “那年，那个夏天“ (nà nián, nà gè xià tiān) That Year, That Summer — A memorable story on the bittersweet summers of youth.
- “好阳光“ (hǎo yáng guāng) Lovely Sunlight — A reflection on appreciating the simple beauty of life.
4. 成语故事大全 (chéng yǔ gù shì dà quán) Chinese Chengyu Short Stories
Chéng yǔ, or Chinese proverbs, are important to know for every Chinese student. They crop up in a lot of literary writing and even in speech, as idioms. This site gives you all the short stories behind Chinese chéng yǔ.
All their stories are shown on the same page, listed according to the idiom. You can pretty much click on any idiom and get an interesting quick read, which is why we recommend this site.
- “九牛一毛“ (jǐu níu yī máo) One Hair from Nine Oxen — The story behind the idiom that means something small and insignificant.
- “三人成虎“ (sān rén chéng hǔ) Three Men Talking Makes a Tiger — The story behind the idiom describing how rumors spread.
5. 童话故事网 (tóng huà gù shì wǎng) Fairytale Short Stories
If you’ve secretly wanted to challenge yourself to read childhood classics in Chinese, this is the place to go. This site is filled with Chinese short stories for your inner child.
Find all story categories listed at the top of the homepage, as well as tabs for fairy tales, legends and “new and notable” in the header.
- “三只小熊的故事” (sān zhǐ xiǎo xióng de gù shì) Story of Three Little Bears — You know the plot. Might be fun to revisit this classic in Chinese!
- “长颈鹿和山羊” (cháng jǐng lù hé shān yáng) The Giraffe and the Goat — A story about not comparing but using our strengths to compliment others’ weaknesses.
6. “人生屋小故事大道理全集” (rén shēng wū xiǎo gù shì dà dào lǐ quán jí) Life House’s Big List of Short Stories
This site specializes in “life lessons,” not unlike “Chicken Soup for the Soul” kind of stories. It has a page with a large collection of short stories sorted by category. At the end of every story you’ll find a practical application point for your life. If you navigate to other pages on this site, you can find longer writings of life philosophy and life advice.
- “命运” (mìng yùn) Fate — A story that teaches us not to trust in fate but to take our lives into our own hands.
- “9点到12点” (9 diǎn dào 12 diǎn) From Nine to Twelve — A story about facing disappointments in life.
If the other all-Chinese sites are overwhelming, this site should be a relief! It offers short Chinese readings with an English translation, along with notes for language students. These short stories are categorized by skill level, so you can easily look up the stories that are right for you.
The site is set up like a blog, with stories shown by date and newer stories at the top. You can find categories on the right-hand column.
- “Catching Frogs” — This is a beginner-level piece about respecting nature. A quick read, with plenty of new vocabulary related to the environment.
- “The History of Chinese Americans” — This is an intermediate-level story on how the Chinese first started immigrating to North America, suitable for those interested in history or social studies.
We hope the above short story recommendations get you inspired for some short story reading!
Perhaps a story a day will be your path to greater Chinese fluency.
And One More Thing…
If you’re looking for other great ways to practice Chinese reading and speaking, then you’ll love FluentU.
FluentU lets you learn real Chinese from music videos, commercials, news and inspiring talks. It naturally eases you into learning Chinese language, and you’ll learn Chinese as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos—like dramas, TV shows, commercials and music videos. In fact, below you’ll even see the song “Let It Go” from the hit movie “Frozen”:
FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up. All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how a word is used. Tap to add words you’d like to review to a vocab list.
From the description page, you can access interactive transcripts under the Dialogue tab, or review words and phrases under Vocab.
FluentU’s Learn Mode turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your vocabulary. It suggests content and examples based on the words you’re learning. You have a 100% personalized experience.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.