Many thanks to The University of Iowa Chinese Program, who have been kind enough to provide this amazing online resource for anyone learning Mandarin Chinese. Called the Chinese Reading World, it is a collection of nine-hundred (that's right, 900!) short lessons in three different levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Each level features three-hundred of these short written pieces. It's reading practice, a short quiz, and vocabulary all rolled into one neat little package. And best of all, it's free!
Each lesson is composed of a short written story or article and is followed by five to ten, short multiple choice questions to determine how well you understood the reading. There are also short pre-reading and post-reading multiple choice vocabulary quizzes featuring key words for each particular lesson. In addition, each of the nine-hundred lessons features an audio track of the reading that you can listen to.
You can jump right into the texts here, with the Beginning Level, or you can enter the site through the "front door", Chinese Reading World. They require an email to access the reading materials if you enter this way. I registered my email simply to let them know I appreciate the work they've done. Either way, you should definitely take a moment to check them out, if you haven't already.
I am only on the beginner lessons (there ARE three-hundred of them, after all), but just about anyone learning Mandarin will benefit from visiting the site and taking the quizzes. They even grade your performance with a Reading Comprehension Score that they provide when you're done, based on how many questions you answer correctly and how long you take to finish the quiz. So you can return to quizzes that you've already done after some time, and redo them to see if your time is faster.
One final note for beginners - there is no instruction here, so you will need to learn Chinese characters elsewhere, before visiting the site. Also, the very first quiz may seem quite hard, depending on how long you've been studying Hanzi and how many characters you know. Also, don't let the names of any people in the lessons trip you up. If you don't recognize that a person's name is being referred to, you may find yourself confused!
I hope you visit the Chinese Reading World and find it useful! If you've already visited the site, did you find it helpful? Are you still using it?
Find this and other useful sites on my Links to Online Resources for Learning Mandarin Chinese page.