Issue 4: J-Book Review
Find reading a Japanese novel daunting? Try Japanese Graded Readers!
eading Japanese can be a bit of a challenge for anyone who hasn’t reached that level yet where you just glance over a line of text and instantly knows what it says. We do it all the time in our own native language, whether reading a magazine, newspaper or your favorite online e-zine Chokochoko 🙂
Speaking for myself, I always felt somewhat overwhelmed when I would flip open a Japanese book and see a whole page with nothing but text, text and text. At first, it just looks like a whole page of squiggly lines and the thought of having to sit down and actually READ every single word and line of text used to sent my head spinning (it still does occasionally). And let’s face it, we learners still have to read word for word cus we just haven’t reached that glance-over level yet.
Reading and relaxing?
When I was still living in Shanghai and browsing for a Japanese reading book in one of my favorite bookstores (Foreign Language Bookstore, the one on Fuzhou Lu close to Book City for all of you guys in Shanghai), I wanted something relaxing and easy to read, and not something where I would have to ready a dictionary at the side and it would feel more like studying. I saw this set of books piled up in the middle of the Japanese books section and it drew my attention. At first I though the books were aimed at small kids but then I saw they had varied reading levels according to the JLPT levels. So I picked up 2 different copies of the 1st volume.
Mini books inside each book
There are different volumes and each volume consists of four books (1, 2, 3 and 4, 4 being the highest level) ranging from beginner to JLPT level 2-ish (N2 nowadays) and currently there are, as far as I know, three volumes. There is a new 5th book which is actually book ZERO and is pre-beginner. Each book has 4 – 5 smaller books inside accompanied by an audio CD. So you could choose to listen to the audio first or read first and then listen to the audio, or just listen while reading. I personally find this very nice since I hear the words pronounced while reading along. What I also often do is read the text first, then listen to just the audio which makes it easier to catch everything once you’ve read the text. Each small book has either classic Japanese stories or topics related to Japan. The drawn images are a nice visual touch and kanji has furigana. The book recommends you not to use a dictionary when encountering an unknown word, but to guess its meaning from the context and read on. The audio CD is of very high quality and the voice actors do a great job in telling the stories and expressing emotions.
I was so impressed and satisfied with volume 1, that I decided to order book 4 of volume 2. Volume 2 contains a set of 5 mini books and cover things like sumo wrestling,『怖い話』(こわいはなし) and a walk through Tokyo.
After finishing the first mini book, I’m again pleasantly satisfied with my Japanese Graded Readers. This is the kind of book you can just grab when you’re lying in bed and want some light reading or just listen to the audio book. Recommended to anybody who finds reading a Japanese novel still too challenging, Japanese Graded Readers is what you’re looking for!
• title: レベル別日本語多読ライブラリー vol. 2 (Japanese Graded Readers)
• pages: 4 – 5 mini books, varied
• dimensions: 21.5 x 15 cm
• extra: CD x 1
• language: Japanese
• publisher: ASK (www.ask-digital.co.jp)
• order: http://www.whiterabbitpress.com
• ISBN: 978-4-87217-644-5
• special Chokochoko rating: 90%