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Judging from my personal experience (I do translation for a living), the English and Chinese versions of a text have a word count ratio of about 2:3. That is, if the English version has 1000 words, the Chinese version will usually have about 1500 characters. However, the Chinese version usually takes up less space. In Microsoft Word, with the same font ...
You can try 读者 which is like Reader's Digest. I don't know if one with 1000 words can understand every article in it, but I think you can find some interesting essays.
Anna mei Banfa! (an early level 2 reader) may be excruciatingly repetitious, but it's a good way to pound those most frequent characters into your head. It's used in high school classes in the US. Make it a bit more interesting by making up a parallel story in your mind about another girl who's a lot more interesting (using the same vocab, or looking up just ...
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