Chinese Short Stories: 9 Best Websites for Improving Your Mandarin Reading Skills
A good short story can be the perfect complement to a Sunday afternoon or Tuesday work break.
Better yet, you can read short stories in Chinese for an interesting learning experience—both linguistic and cultural.
We’ll show you how to take advantage of Chinese short stories and where to find them online.
- 1. Wattpad
- 2. 短美文网 | Short and Beautiful Writings
- 3. 短文学网 | The Art of Short Writing
- 4. 成语故事大全 | Chinese Chengyu Short Stories
- 5. Chinese-Tools.com
- 6. 人生屋小故事大道理全集 | Life House’s Big List of Short Stories
- 7. Chinese Reading Practice
- 8. 中文故事 | Chinese Stories
- 9. Mandarin Companion
- Why You Should Read Short Stories in Chinese
- Handy Tools for Reading Chinese Short Stories
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.
Wattpad also has an app for iOS and Android.
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 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 | Short and Beautiful Writings
Pinyin: duǎn měi wén wǎng
Here’s a collection of recommended short writings, including poetry. You’ll see all the categories listed at the top of the website.
Check out their page of classics and other categories such as “relationships” and “short stories,” or scroll down to see featured and specially curated stories.
- “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 | The Art of Short Writing
Pinyin: duǎn wén xué wǎng
This is another collection of online short stories that are worth checking out. Story categories are listed at the top of the homepage, once again.
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.
- “有一种友情叫平时不联系” (yǒuyī zhǒng yǒuqíng jiào píngshí bù liánxì) — This thoughtful piece shows that friendships can last even if you haven’t talked in a while.
- “男人和树” (nán rén hé shù) — A nostalgic story about how trees can connect several generations.
4. 成语故事大全 | Chinese Chengyu Short Stories
Pinyin: chéng yǔ gù shì dà quán
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.
- “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.
This is another website that features short chéng yǔ stories. The stories help you with idioms, as they have pop-up definitions and pinyin above all of the characters.
You can even venture beyond the idiom stories here and explore their collections of poetry and songs, which offer all the same tools and on-site features that make reading easier.
- “对牛弹琴” (duì niú tán qín) Play the Lute to a Cow — It’s a story about what happens when you overestimate the sophistication and intelligence of your audience.
- “一日千里” (yī rì qiān lǐ) A Thousand Li a Day — The main character in this story is 造父 (Zào fù), a man who’s famous for being good at riding horses.
6. 人生屋小故事大道理全集 | Life House’s Big List of Short Stories
Pinyin: rén shēng wū xiǎo gù shì dà dào lǐ quán jí
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.
7. Chinese Reading Practice
If 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.
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.
8. 中文故事 | Chinese Stories
Pinyin: zhōng wén gù shì
iTunes | Google Play
Here’s a great website with numerous free Chinese short stories, for beginner, intermediate and advanced learners.
You’ll have the option of downloading the stories as free e-books or going with the mobile app.
There are separate apps for different skill levels, and each one offers both free and paid stories that you can read.
Just keep in mind that the stories here are written in traditional characters!
- “中国情人节” (zhōng guó qíng rén jié) Chinese Valentine’s Day — This is a story about the holiday found within the apps and e-book for beginners.
- “年糕的由来” (nián gāo de yóu lái) The Origin of Rice Cake — This advanced story explores the ancient legend behind 年糕 (nián gāo), which is a rice cake that’s served during Chinese New Year.
9. Mandarin Companion
Mandarin Companion has taken Western classics like “The Secret Garden” and translated them into easy Chinese for learners, with some adaptations.
Most readers will be somewhat familiar with the plots already, so you won’t have to worry about losing the story thread. These are long books, not really short stories, so they take more time commitment.
Each story is available in printed format and for digital download to your Kindle.
- “六十年的梦” (liù shí nián dí mèng) The Sixty-Year Dream — You can learn 300 characters by reading this adaptation of “Rip Van Winkle.”
- “美好的前途” (měi hǎo de qián tú) Great Expectations — This is based on the famous book by Charles Dickens and comes in two parts.
Why You Should Read Short Stories in Chinese
It goes without saying that reading in Chinese will help with your language skills. Here are some reasons why we especially like short stories:
- They’re short. Trying to read a book 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 whenever you have a little bit of time to spare.
- They’ll grow your interest in Chinese. Stories really draw out our emotions and entertain our minds. Reading Chinese short stories can increase your interest in Chinese culture and help you enjoy learning more.
- They’ll improve your instinct for natural-sounding phrases. I’m sure you’ve already noticed that when you speak a language fluently, you’re speaking partly by instinct.
You’re no longer thinking about good sentence structure or what colloquialisms are most appropriate. Rather, it all comes from your “gut” knowledge.
Similarly, with 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.
- 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 Chinese Short Stories
Conveniently, you can use apps and online dictionaries for quick translations and definitions while reading short stories online:
Zhongwen: Chinese-English Dictionary
This Google Chrome 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 see definitions and pronunciations right away.
MDBG is an online dictionary that 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.
This program teaches you Mandarin using videos like Chinese commercials and movie clips. There are also a number of animated stories that you can read along with:
The videos have interactive subtitles (available in pinyin, hanzi characters and English) that let you look up definitions and example sentences for words as you’re hearing them.
You can also add words to word lists as flashcards so you can study them with FluentU’s personalized exercises.
Seeing and hearing Chinese in context as you’re reading it is an excellent way to improve your vocabulary and comprehension, and it prepares you to read Chinese independently.
Learning how to use a hardcopy dictionary 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.
Chinese short stories can be a fresh and fun addition to your regular study regimen.
We hope the above short story recommendations will get you inspired!