1. Chinese Breeze
This is a great choice for those starting out reading Chinese. The Chinese Breeze Graded Reader Series was recommended by one of our users in response to our best Chinese books post and I have to say that I am really impressed with it so far. It is published by the Peking University Press. I bought a load of these books during a recent trip to China although it is also available on Amazon and other sites. There are 8 levels in total with level 1 covering 300 characters and level 8 apparently going up to 3500!
The Breeze series is fun and conversational with the audio included on a CD so you can listen while you read. There is both a slow and normal speed audio track for each story which is pretty awesome for building up listening comprehension. One gripe is that there is no pinyin included so it can take me a while to look up the readings for some of the unknown words. Most of the stories are easy to follow though and are much more engaging than the stories in your average readers. It feels like you are reading a real story for entertainment rather than just studying.
2. Beijing Language and Culture University Press Series (Chinese name)
The second series of readers I want to cover is by the Beijing Language and Culture University Press. This series is also a solid choice for improving your Chinese reading although it is much more difficult and more academic than the Chinese Breeze readers. Each book is a series of essays on a given topic such as being a foreign professional working in China. I find myself constantly looking up the new vocabulary. On the plus side, the topics are also pretty interesting and the pinyin equivalents are given for the content covered.If you are looking for some challenging content to read this is a good choice but it is definitely not for beginners.
Rohan has spent years studying Japanese, Chinese and Korean, and currently lives in Japan. He created the perapera pop-up dictionary plugins to help other learners of Chinese and Japanese.