Odonata Chinese Old & New Books: What are the Differences?

You’ve probably heard of the Odonata Chinese books and flashcards (红蜻蜓学前阅读计划), which are popular in Malaysia and Singapore for learning Chinese Mandarin.

And now you’re here to find out the differences between the old and new editions before deciding which to get. Read on…


Odonata Publishing is an established publisher of Chinese books in Malaysia, where there are students who study Chinese as a first language. In these schools, Math and Sciences are also taught in Chinese.

This means high-quality Chinese reading materials are published.

Odonata’s preschool reading programme was first published from 2000 to 2009.

After years of popularity, it has been updated, with the first book of the new edition released in 2020.

In this article, I shall refer to the editions as 2020 Edition (new) and Pre-2020 Edition (old).


2020 EditionPre-2020 Edition
TitleMing Ming & Li Li: Read Stories Learn Words
Preschool Reading Programme
Year Published2020 and onwards2000 to 2009
Number of core books / storiesFirst 100 words: 1
200 words: 1
300 words: 1
400 words: 1
500 words: 1
600 words: 1
700 words: 1
800 words: 1
900 words: 1
1000 words: 1

Published: 10 (as at Jan 2023)
Planned: 12 books / 12 stories
First 100 words: 8
200 words: 8
300-400 words: 8
500-800 words: 8
800-1200 words: 8

Total: 40 books / 40 stories
Number of supplementary books / storiesPurchase separately

Interactive Story Books series:
First 100 words: 2 books x 3 stories
200 words: 2 books x 3 stories
300 words: 4 books
400 words: 6 books
500 words: 1 book
700 words: 1 book
1200 words: 1 book

Total: 17 books / 25 stories
No. of pages in each book~6314
Weight of each book~150g~60g
Word choicesImproved, more commonly used words today

For the first 600 words, about 400+ words remain the same, and 100+ words changed.
From the years 2000-2009
StorylineImproved, designed to be more relatable to today’s childrenFrom years 2000-2009
CharactersMingming and Lili (good friends)Mingming and Lili (siblings)
IllustrationsImproved (refer to sample photos)Previous (refer to sample photos)
AvailabilityIn stock

No update on when books 1100 & 1200 will be released
While stocks last

Publisher will stop printing these books after they sell out
ActivitiesIncluded in each book
E.g. Maze, matching
Purchase separately
(Learn Mandarin Chinese series, 10 books)
Writing BooksPurchase separately
(Learn to Write series, 10 books)
Word Cards / FlashcardsAvailable for each book

10 boxes for first 1000 words

(Planned: 12 boxes for 1200 words)
While stocks last

In print:
– 8 boxes: 100 to 600, 900, 1200 words

– 700, 800 words

Out of print:
– 1000, 1100 words
CDsWhile stocks last

In print:
– 200 to 800 words

Out of print:
– 100, 900 to 1200 words
When this is suitable If your child is young (before primary school), get these published books and the later ones as they are published.

Mastering 600 words by Primary 1 will provide a strong foundation for entering primary school.
If your child is already in Primary School, get this set of books (up to 1200 words) & in-print flashcards while stocks last.

Mastering 1200 words by Primary 3 to 4 will provide a strong foundation for upper primary.

Zooming in…

Here are sample photos of the new 2020 Edition:

Here’s the older Pre-2020 Edition:

More FAQs

Q: At what age should my child start on this reading programme?

A: From my teaching training and experience, I’d recommend starting a systematic Chinese reading programme from 3 to 5 years old.

Observe your child’s readiness to recognise and remember Chinese characters.

Once the child is ready, she can learn relatively fast within 1 to 2 years. (This means she has reached her sensitive period for reading Chinese, which can be earlier or later than her sensitive period for reading English.)

Q: My child is below 3 years old. What can I do to prepare her to read Chinese?

Before 3 years old, it is more important to carry out regular two-way conversations in Chinese to build a positive association with the language, listening and speaking skills, and intuition for the grammar.

You may read a wide variety of picture storybooks to her. Check out your local libraries.

Within Odonata, you may consider the Learn Sentences series designed for toddlers. The objective at this stage is to build interest instead of reading characters.

Q: Can I use the Pre-2020 Edition workbooks with the 2020 Edition books?

Sure! This is what many of our customers have done.

For the first 600 words, 400+ are the same, so you may use the relevant pages in the workbooks.

You may use the workbooks in any sequence that you find relevant or that your child enjoys.

Most importantly, enjoy the process!

Q: Can I use both editions?

Yes, you may use both editions for more reading practice.

Note that Mingming and Lili are siblings in the Pre-2020 Edition yet are good friends in the 2020 Edition. Some children may not like this.

To go around it, you may explain that Mingming and Lili are totally different characters in the two editions and happen to share the same name.

In the office where I used to work, there were three Carols!

Q: Are the Pre-2020 or 2020 Editions compatible with the pen translators such as Alpha Egg Q3?

A: The font size in the books is 1cm (1st 100 words, both versions), decreasing to 0.8cm (1200 words, Pre-2020). Alpha Egg Q3 is able to read and translate both Odonata versions.

For other translation pens, read the user guide to check whether it can scan up to 1cm font size.

Q: Are the Pre-2020 or 2020 Editions compatible with Luka, the reading robot?

A: Pre-2020 Edition: Series 100 to 800 can be read by Luka

2020 Edition: Cannot be read by Luka (Please refer to next Question.)

Q: Should Luka or I read the books aloud to my child?

These book sets are part of a structured reading programme. The recommended teaching method is:

  1. Teach individual characters through cards, and verbal and/or hands-on activities
  2. Let the child try reading the page(s) containing characters that she has learnt

If someone or Luka reads the book aloud, it is common that a young child would memorise and even recite the story word-for-word without recognising the words.

My eldest child did this at 2 years old before recognising any character! Other parents have also observed the same with their children. Since then, I have revised the teaching method for my younger children.

Reading aloud is suitable for general picture books and story books but it is unsuitable for a structured reading programme such as Odonata.

For a reading programme to be effective, let your child read the book, either silently or aloud.


“Excellent!  My 6-year old grandson finds it very easy to learn to read. Very systemic, illustrative and repetitive. Also easy for my 4-year old granddaughter to start learning to read Chinese. I [ ] don’t know Chinese but I am also learning to read together with my grandchildren. The series is very good for beginners to learn to read Chinese. Will purchase the next set of the Chinese reading and writing books.” 

– Eunice L., Singapore


At Owlissimo, our children grew up using the Pre-2020 Edition and have a strong foundation in reading Chinese.

They started at around 5+ to 6+ years old, not exactly early in Singapore or Malaysia nowadays. The older children mastered all 1200 words at around 8+ to 9+ years old.

Our youngest mastered 600 words at 7.5 years old, 1000 words at 7 years 11 months old, and 1200 words at 8 years 8 months old.

They have been doing well in fully-immersive Chinese schools, where they learn Math and Science in Chinese too.

If your child is still young (before primary school), we recommend the new 2020 Edition for the improved storylines, illustrations, and the possibility of collecting the entire series until 1200 words as your child grows.

If your child is already in primary school, you may wish to get the entire Pre-2020 Edition of books and flashcards before they go out of print.

Get yours now!

Owlissimo is Odonata’s authorised retailer in Singapore. We ship to Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the United States (US), Canada, and more destinations.

With our extensive experience in home learning, you can get reliable recommendations on suitable materials for your family and teaching tips.

Get the Super Saver Sets for exclusive bulk shipping savings.

Use discount code “odonata10” for 10% off for ala carte items.

Check out Odonata’s range of books and word cards / flashcards now:


It should be more technically correct to use “characters” instead of “words” in this article. Using “words” is to ease readability for most of our readers.


Owlissimo is planning workshops on using word cards and books to help your child learn to read Chinese effectively and efficiently. Stay tuned for updates.

(Updated on: 2 Feb 2023)

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