10+ Best Chinese Textbooks for Beginners

Looking for the best Chinese textbooks?

Some people like learning with Chinese online courses. Others want language apps. And some people like learning with textbooks.

And Chinese textbooks are a simple way to learn Chinese. Why?

Books guide you from page 0, to page 1, to page 3… to page 100. From your first words to your first conversation. You learn tons of characters, words and grammar rules along the way. So, in this guide, you get… 10+ Best Chinese Textbooks for Beginners

best chinese textbooks

1. Living Language Chinese, Complete Edition

Living Language makes the list of “best Chinese textbooks” because of everything you get. What do you get?

“A course that is the equivalent of about a full year of college-level Chinese.”

You get 3 course-books (beginner, intermediate and advanced), 9 CDs and online resources.

So, you get “quite enough” to get you up and speaking with Chinese.

Living Language teaches you the must-know grammar and words in each chapter. Then, at the end of each chapter, they bring it all together so that you can use the rules, make your own sentences and master what you’ve learned.

Plus, the 9 CDs are there to help you hear Chinese and guide you through all of the exercises in the book.

Click here to learn more.

2. Mandarin Chinese for Beginners: Learning Conversational Chinese

(Fully Romanized and Free Online Audio)

First, don’t get the kindle version because it doesn’t have audio.

That being said, this 208 page book is broken down into 16 chapters: introducing yourself, business phrases, restaurant phrases, and so on. You learn with sample dialogues, plenty of exercises, and the good news is… there’s also pinyin (romanizations).

While you’ll need a separate resource for the characters, this is a wonderful start to learning to read and understand Chinese.

Click here to learn more.

3. Learning Mandarin Chinese Characters Volume 1: The Quick and Easy Way to Learn Chinese Characters!

This book is indeed for beginners and teaches you the 178 most used characters.

That’s enough for the easiest Chinese proficiency test (HSK Level 1). Even better, there are plenty of exercises, stroke order tutorials and practice forms for you to write out the characters. Alongside those 178 characters, you’ll also pick up 534 based on those characters.

Just 128 pages long so it won’t take you long to breeze through this.

Click here to learn more.

4. Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters: (HSK Levels 1-3)

A Revolutionary New Way to Learn the 800 Most Basic Chinese Characters

But, if you’re a trooper and want to master MORE characters, this next book may be for you. This whopping 384-page book is dedicated to helping you master the meanings and the pronunciations of over 800 characters. So, that’s HSK 1 to HSK 3.

How? By teaching you the characters through mnemonics and radicals (the basic building blocks of Chinese characters/Hanzi.) There are also little tables for you to write out and practice the characters. May be best for the ambitious learner, and not someone looking for an introduction.

Click here to learn more.

5. Chinese Short Stories For Beginners: 20 Captivating Short Stories to Learn Chinese & Grow Your Vocabulary the Fun Way! 

You know what’s a good way to learn Chinese… or anything?

Through stories!

So, how does this book work? You get 20 simple stories along with translations and romanizations. Then, there’s a summary to help you grasp everything. Then, a vocabulary review list. And finally, exercises and questions to help you review what you’ve read.

But, make sure you know the basic characters (HSK1 at least) before you go on to reading this.

Click here to learn more.

6. Learn Chinese: A Comprehensive Guide to Learning Chinese for Beginners, Including Grammar, Short Stories and Popular Phrases

This is actually a “3 books in 1” bundle. Overall, 328 pages.

  •  A Chinese Learning Guide. Includes tones, basic grammar, numbers, greetings, and basic phrases you’ll need for daily life. So, this the first book you should start and finish. It’ll teach you to read and prepare you for the next one.
  • 11 Stories for Beginners: Now, you can start putting your Chinese to use by reading simple stories.
  •  Over 1000 Essential Mandarin Phrases: Finally, you need to keep going and add more words and phrases to your arsenal. This is a book you’ll want to review over and over. Just don’t spend hours on it at a time.

Click here to learn more.

7. Conversational Chinese Dialogues: Over 100 Chinese Conversations and Short Stories

You know what else is a good way to learn Chinese?

Through conversations. Sure, you can’t “listen” to one through a book, but you can read, re-read and review them.

So, this 337-page book gives you more than enough to read…so that you can speak more Chinese.

There are 100 chapters; one for each story. Each chapter starts with a story and a conversation. You also get the pinyin and translations, so you can understand and pronounce it all.

Click here to learn more.

8. Integrated Chinese: Simplified Characters Textbook, Level 1, Part 1 

This is used in college classes and hence belongs on my list of best Chinese textbooks.

All the books above are geared more towards casual learners, but if you’re more serious… then Integrated Chinese is for you. It’s essentially all the Chinese you’d learn in your first year in school. You learn 350+ words, basic grammar, includes plenty of review exercises… and of course, it gets you reading and writing Chinese.

Click here to learn more.

9. Get Talking Chinese Workbook: Mandarin Chinese Practice for Beginners

This next one is NOT a textbook but a workbook.

Why did I include it? Because I’m biased and love workbooks with exercises. Not a big fan of “only consuming.”  With this, you learn to write the 200 basic characters. That’s it. Just put in the work. You should however pair it up with another book on this best Chinese textbooks list for best results.

Click here to learn more.

10. Lonely Planet Mandarin Phrasebook & Dictionary

Finally, if you’re learning Chinese, then you’ll want a dictionary…. just to load yourself up on more words.

That’s where this 256 phrasebook/dictionary comes in, with over 3500 words inside. Plus, plenty of phrases for real life situations. The phrasebook-dictionary hybrid is geared towards travelers but beginners can also make good use of it. Just make sure you understand the tones before you use this book.

Click here to learn more.


These are some of the best Chinese textbooks and books I’ve found so far.

But, if you want something a little more than a “book,” then I recommend ChineseClass101.

ChineseClass101 is a Chinese learning program. You get audio/video lessons made by real teachers. The lessons get you speaking in minutes and are just 3-15 minutes in length. Just press the play button below to check out a lesson.

So, if you want to HEAR real Chinese and learn faster with a program, I recommend them.

Click here to get a Free Lifetime Account at ChineseClass101.com.

– The Main Junkie

Learn Chinese with Free Podcasts

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