Chinese Classics

Chinese Images

With the exception of Journey to the West, usually better known as Monkey, the classics of Chinese literature, so well known in China, are almost unknown elsewhere. Real Reads Chinese Classics have changed that for ever, bringing key Chinese classics to the wider audience they deserve.

  • Retold and illustrated by Chinese speakers steeped in Chinese culture
  • The four ‘Noble Chinese Classics’ available to western readers in a uniform and accessible edition for the first time
  • A unique bridge to Real Chinese culture

In association with Bamboo Learning ( and The Chinese Staffroom (, Real Reads has produced a comprehensive set of Schemes of Work to accompany the groundbreaking series of Real Reads Chinese Classics.

Written by Pete Goodman and James Trapp of Bamboo Learning, these teaching aids provide everything a keen teacher of Mandarin will ever need to introduce these classics of Chinese literature to the ever-growing number of western children learning about Chinese language and literature.

For a limited period these Schemes of Work, together with a set of overview Teachers’ Notes, are available free of charge to download here.

Real Reads Chinese Classics Teachers’ Notes (in PDF format)

Journey to the West Scheme of Work (in PDF format)

Dream of the Red Chamber Scheme of Work (in PDF format)

The Three Kingdoms Scheme of Work (in PDF format)

The Water Margin Scheme of Work (in PDF format)

Don’t just take our word for it that the Real Reads Chinese Classics are a significant landmark in bringing Chinese culture to western readers. Here are some reviews by key teachers responsible for the promotion of the teaching of Chinese language and culture:

Christine Sun and Shirley Chiang have worked well as a team, producing attractive books and fast-paced stories. [read more]

Gina Jamieson is the Mandarin teacher at Djanogly City Academy, one of England’s five original Confucius Classrooms, where Chinese is taught at all key stages.

These books are a delight, the stories well told, the illustrations lively and appealing and the 64-page format very accessible to young readers. [read more]

Theresa Munford is Head of Mandarin at The Ashcombe School, a Language College in Dorking, England. She teaches Mandarin in innovative ways to primary and secondary students up to GCSE level.

Journey to the West

Journey to the West cover

Wu Cheng'en

Retold by Christine Sun

Illustrated by Shirley Chiang

ISBN 978-1-906230-34-0


In ancient China a magical monkey appears, creating chaos everywhere he goes. The only way to put his tricks and talents to good use is to make him protector of Xuanzang, a young and handsome monk determined to travel from China to India in search of the precious scriptures.

Monkey and his fellow disciples, Piggy and Sandy, have to protect Xuanzang from monsters and demons who think they can live forever just by taking a bite out of the monk.

Can Xuanzang and his loyal disciples reach India safely and find what they are looking for? Do they have enough confidence and courage to conquer the demons, both those lurking around them and those within their own hearts?

Full of humour and adventure, Journey to the West is a story of self-discovery and the pursuit of excellence. Written by Chinese scholar Wu Cheng’en more than four hundred years ago, it reflects everyone’s pilgrimage towards truth, peace and beauty.

Click on the thumbnails below to see sample spreads.

Journey to the West spread 1 Journey to the West spread 2 Journey to the West spread 3

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Dream of the Red Chamber

Dream of the Red Chamber cover

Cao Xueqin

Retold by Christine Sun

Illustrated by Shirley Chiang

ISBN 978-1-906230-36-4


Baoyu has always believed that he will marry his childhood sweetheart, Daiyu. Daiyu is beautiful and talented, very sensitive, and physically fragile. It is a huge shock to him when he learns that his parents want him to marry Baochai instead, a healthy and considerate girl.

Baoyu’s family is fast losing its fame and fortune. One by one, Baoyu’s female friends, relatives and servants are being married off or sold, and he realises just how much he values the qualities of the women in his life.

Will Baoyu surrender to life’s harsh realities and give up his true love? What can he do to protect the women he loves from violence, neglect and abuse? Full of a fiery passion for love and beauty, Dream of the Red Chamber is the story of a young man in search of what is truly important to him.

Click on the thumbnails below to see sample spreads.

Dream of the Red Chamber spread 1 Dream of the Red Chamber spread 2 Dream of the Red Chamber spread 3

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The Three Kingdoms

The Three Kingdoms cover

Luo Guanzhong

Retold by Christine Sun

Illustrated by Shirley Chiang

ISBN 978-1-906230-35-7


The great empire of China is in turmoil.

As the government becomes increasingly incompetent, warlords and nobles battle for power. In the north is the Kingdom of Wei, headed by cunning and manipulative Cao Cao. In the southeast is the Kingdom of Wu, ruled by masterful and charismatic Sun Quan. In the west is the Kingdom of Shu, commanded by kind-hearted and humble Liu Bei.

Cao has committed murder and betrayal on his way to glory, only to see his family’s throne overthrown by other scheming crooks. Sun and his advisor Zhou Yu have established a military stronghold, but are no match against Liu’s military strategist Zhuge Liang, who wisely advocates tolerance and mutual respect.

Full of thrilling action, sophisticated stratagems, passionate brotherhood and loyalty, The Three Kingdoms sums up all the most important lessons of history.

Click on the thumbnails below to see sample spreads.

The Three Kingdoms spread 1 The Three Kingdoms spread 2 The Three Kingdoms spread 3

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The Water Margin

The Water Margin cover

Shi Naian

Retold by Christine Sun

Illustrated by Shirley Chiang

ISBN 978-1-906230-37-1


Although Song Jiang is only a lowly local government official, he is loyal to the emperor and kind to all the citizens in his care. But Song is in trouble. A series of unfortunate incidents have led to him being arrested, and his political enemies are keen to see him sentenced to death.

There is still hope, however. One hundred and eight brave bandits from Mount Liang have heard of Song’s good name – they are willing to rescue him as long as Song will lead them in rebelling against the corrupt government.

Will Song agree to become an outlaw? Will he be able to tread the narrow path between right and wrong? Will justice eventually prevail over corruption and the misuse of power?

Click on the thumbnails below to see sample spreads.

The Water Margin spread 1 The Water Margin spread 2 The Water Margin spread 3

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