Chinese reading apps and sites
Pearson is a large international producer of educational materials. Their Singapore office has created multiple iPad Mandarin books. They can be read simply as books, they can read the story aloud in Mandarin or the reader can touch individuals phrases to hear how they’re pronounced. There are over 50 titles available, each at $5.99. They range from relatively simple to stories appropriate for students in fourth grade and beyond.
A stellar site out of Taiwan that has apps and stories online, in both simplified and traditional characters. Kids love it and they have nice animation. Definitely worth signing up for. They have a very high fee, $140 per year, which is really aimed at schools. They offer a lower priced alternative, usually $30, for parents in the United States. Email them to ask for more information about their US pricing. email@example.com. Highly recommended.
This is a digital library of over 1,000 books read aloud in Mandarin. Children can see the story and hear it read to them. There are stories for kids age 4-12, including fairy tales, idiom and famous novels, all narrated by professional Chinese narrators who include TV and radio hosts. Idiom or proverb stories are the stories behind traditional Chinese idiomatic sayings, often called Four Character Stories. They’re used a lot in everyday speech, kind of like “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” only much more literary. You have to know the story to get the meaning.
This site offers books in Chinese that can toggle between characters, pinyin and English. They only had eight books in 2014 but plan to expand.
Children’s Cultural Center
This is a website by the Taiwanese Ministry of Culture that features fun Chinese videos and information for kids. It’s kind of like PBS for kids in Chinese. It’s all in traditional Chinese but you can click around and see what you find. And there are no worries about stumbling upon something inappropriate. Most of the stories have the Bopomofo transliteration system next to the characters, that’s what the squiggles are that your child probably won’t know. But it doesn’t matter, the stories are fun to watch.