What is Le Le Chinese Reading Pen Pen 樂樂文化 system?
I’ve written a post previously about three different “pens” we have for reading Chinese. Our favourite pen is the LeLe Chinese pen, and this post is a more detailed review on how we use it. (In case you’re wondering, yes, we bought all the pens and books at full retail price, and yes, they all have a different purpose).
LeLe Chinese is actually a series of highly-engaging picture book graded readers (with versions available in both simplified and traditional), and it has on optional pen which can read the books. The intention of the books is to “literacy through literature” – which is to say that by reading lots of books, the child will naturally pick up characters. The highly unique aspect of this pen, is you can point it at any Chinese character, on any page, and it will each individual character. For this reason, the Le Le books need no pinyin, and it the child can focus fully on the characters.
The books come in three sets of 100, starting with “Red” set, then “Yellow”, and finally the hardest is “Green”. Each book is 8 – 10 pages. My K1 daughter is able to read most of the Red sets by herself, and then just get help with the harder parts. Likewise my P2 daughter can read most of the yellow set, and uses the pen to fill in the gaps. Meanwhile my toddler just uses the pen for everything! Each level introduces a few hundred new characters, which are then repeated in different contexts. So in total, the full set is 300 books, and cover over 1000 of the most popular Chinese characters.
Apparently the author of these books took four years to write them all, which is a lot of time to write a few hundred short sentences! However, the effort is clearly worth it in their thoughtful and engaging syllabus. According to the author, the first level (red) was the hardest for her to make due to the limited characters to be used, yet the need to create interesting stories.
How do we use Le Le Chinese Books and Le Le Reading Pen?
Generally I like to read the books together with the children first – we aim for two books a day. They’re short stories, usually with a funny ending, so it’s a great use of ten minutes. I ask the children to read as much as possible without the aid of the pen, and also translate it page-by-page into English for me, so I can join in the giggles. Through reading these simple books together, I’ve picked up a lot more Chinese that I had expected to.
All of my daughters are able to use the pen independently, so I encourage them to re-read several of the books each day which we’ve already read together as a family. The pen lets them figure out new words, which means they doesn’t need to wait for my help to try and look at the character in Google Translate or the dictionary phone app. The concept allows a child to learn characters without the need for Pinyin or Zhuyin, and without the need for a Chinese speaking parent!
When I watch my daughters using it, particularly the younger ones will repeat what the pen is saying, so they’re learning by hearing, and practicing reading and speaking all at once. The speed of the pen is very slow, especially for the first two sets of books, which is beneficial for young readers who are still getting the hang of new words and tones.
Differences between the three levels of Le Le books
|Red (Beginner)||Yellow (Intermediate)||Green (Advanced)|
|Characters||~500 characters||Additional 340 characters||Additional 230 characters|
|Layout||Each page has a simple short phrase or word||Longer sentences and phrases with transition words.||Longer sentences, and multiple sentences per page.|
|Length||8 pages||8 pages||12 pages|
How is Le Le different from other Chinese reading pens?
I’ve compared Lele our other pens which we have in the table, but I think you’ll quickly see it doesn’t really compare. It’s more comparable to a learning system than a reading pen. Which is why we have it, AND the other pens!
|Lele Chinese Pen||Penpal Whizz||eTutor Star||Luka Reading Robot|
|Books used||Set of 300 graded Chinese readers (simplified or traditional)||Various Chinese and English books, including Fairytales, Idioms, Cartoons, as sold by JLB Educational Technology||Various Chinese and English books and magazines, including Fairytales, Idioms, Cartoons, support books for P1 – PSLE, and subscription magazines as sold by eTutor. This in||Over 50,000 books in English and Chinese; can find any kids book title at the library or bookshop, and it’s likely to recognise it.|
|Ages for use||3 – 8 (it could be used by an older child too, but the age-appropriateness of stories is for younger kids)||4 – 10||4 – 12||2 years up|
|Ability to read individual characters||Yes||No||No||Yes – Luke Hero version can|
|Unique aspects we like||Simple set of graded readers which get progressively harder, and systematically introduce new characters. It allows for plenty of repetition and practice.||Great for keeping children interested in listening to Chinese, as most of the pictures in the books have hidden “conversations” and “sounds” which are revealed when the pen is clicked on them||The subscription magazine set which follows the MOE syllabus is a good support to the school learning system||We can borrow exciting books from the library and know that Luka will be able to read them for us!|
|Where to buy from Singapore?||Le Le Chinese website||Penpal Whizz website or various independent bookshops||Popular Bookstore or eTutor website||Online from Luka Reads website|
|Price for full set||SG$850 + shipping (for all 300 books and the pen)||$248 (for pen + standard book bundle)||$170 (for pen + standard book/magazine bundle)||SG$160 for robot only.|
Note: Readers of my blog can get a S$20 discount on checkout, if you quote ‘LahLah20’.
|Manufacturer Website||https://www.lelechinese.com/ (Taiwan)||https://penpalwhizz.com/ (Singapore)||https://www.etutoreducation.com (Singapore)||https://www.lukareads.com/ (Singapore distributor)|
How is Le Le system different to other graded Chinese reading systems like Sage?
We’ve been lucky enough to borrow a few books from friends, before we settled on Le Le. Several friends highly rated Sage Books, and others the 4, 5 Quick Read System. Then, the Odonata series seems to be the most accessible to purchase in Singapore so we looked at that too. Honestly, they all seemed interesting, but without having any native speaker at home, we really needed audio support along with the books. So, from the get-go, we were favouring Le Le due to the fact it had the Reading Pen. We also liked the fact that Le Le has 300 mini books, whereas the other systems had 10 – 40 books, but with more chapters. I would imagine that as a parent if you can read / speak basic Chinese, and have a lot of time to spend teaching the child together, these other systems would be highly accessible and cheaper option for you to consider. [See my review of Sage Basic 500 system here]
Pros of Le Le Chinese Books and Reading Pen
- It teaches character learning, as it reads each individual character
- The books are slimline and small, and come in their own zippable storage bag with handles, which is great for apartment living where we have limited space for a book library!
- Clear voice that is easy to understand, with adjustable Volume
- Books are sturdy and well made
- Clear and realistic pencil illustrations
- Covers a wide variety of topics which children will enjoy, including realistic and fictional
- Most of the books have a fun (or funny) ending
- No pinyin or English translations to distract the focus (although printable English translations are available on their website)
- Good customer support, including Facebook support group and discussions
If you want to read in more detail about how this series taught my struggling 7 year old daughter how to read 1000+ characters within 6 months, please see here.
Cons of Le Le Chinese Books and Reading Pen
No cons! It’s amazing! The cost might be prohibitive – but it’s an investment which you can probably sell on second-hand and it would retain a lot of its value, given the rarity in Singapore market.
Where to buy Le Le Pen in Singapore?
This pen is from Taiwan, so unlike eTutor Star and Penpal Whizz, it is much much harder so source in Singapore, but truly the benefits are worth it. You may find a pre-loved set selling on Carousell, otherwise order online from Le Le Chinese Website in Taiwan. Shipping is not cheap, but for non-Chinese speaking parents, this system has enabled the children to exponentially learn new characters and is like no other which we’ve seen or tried. Occasionally you’ll find a Facebook Group Buy where SIngaporean parents combine orders to get a discount, which is a good option if you have time to wait.
I have also now managed to print out a set of flashcards which align to these readers (thanks to CHALK Academy), so we’re using this to support our character recognition and repetition.
Additionally, the topics covered in these books are so broad, that they can fit in well with themes or other craft activities, making for a holistic learning curriculum. We have done some epic home-made craft based around the Le Le book topics. See my post here for a list of 20 simple preschool craft activities which match the individual Le Le books.
Le Le Chinese also run a lovely Facebook Group discussion for parents using the system, or considering the system, which is a good place to find like-minded parents or learn more about the investment.
Which Chinese reading pen is right for me?
Different reading pens and curriculums suit different learning stages, ages, family situations, and intended learning outcomes. I’ve tried to summarise this in the below diagram. Le Le is a superior choice if literacy and ability to read Chinese characters is the intended outcome.
Refer to my previous posts for more information about Chinese reading pens – these include:
- Comparison of our favourite Chinese reading pens and robots
- Detailed Review of Habbi Habbi Reading Wand
- Detailed Review of Luka Reading Companion
- Detailed Review of Luka Hero
- Review of iHuman Graded Readers
- Review of eTutorStar Reading Pen
I would love to hear from you, especially if you have experience with other Chinese reading pens. It’s only through meeting other wonderful parents virtually, that this shared language journey becomes a more valuable one. All comments welcomed!