A simple solution for people who are learning Japanese as a child is to read children’s books instead of adult books. It takes a long time to learn all the kanji for Japanese books for adults before you can read them. Some Japanese books for young people don’t use any kanji at all. It’s called “furigana,” and it’s made up of small characters that spell out any kanji. When they do this, they use them. This is a godsend for anyone who wants to learn Japanese.
The Advantages of Reading Japanese Books
Learning Japanese can be done with a lot of different things, like traditional classroom instruction, anime, movies, YouTube channels, apps like Speechling, and, of course, Japanese books that give you a glimpse into the culture and legends of Japan. When you read Japanese books out loud, you learn vocabulary, rhythm, and intonation, which isn’t always the case in textbook lessons. You can also use Japanese books as a way to get away from your textbooks and enjoy stories that help you learn more about Japan. You can start with these 10 books.
The Best Books for Starting to Learn Japanese
Guri and Gura (ぐりとぐら)
Is there anyone who doesn’t like stories about mice who talk? There are great pictures of the mice Guri and Gura in this book, which was written in 1963. Readers will get to know them as they make a huge cake with a long shelf life.
The Beautiful Math Series — Utsukushii Suugaku (美しい数学)
Children and adults both love these simple stories, which have great art. These are great for learning words about the Japanese number system. This is one of the books in the series called Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar. It’s known for its great drawings.
Yotsuba&!, or With Yotsuba!, is a great Japanese book series for people who are just starting out. In the first book, the text is very simple and short. It talks about a toddler who doesn’t know how to interact with other people, and there are a lot of big pictures that show the weird and wonderful things that happen to him. Furigana is used with all kanji, except for Yotsuba’s speech bubbles, which are only in hiragana. An English version of the story can help you learn some of the basic words used in the Japanese version.
Stories You Can Read Smoothly — Ikki ni Yomeru (イッキによめる)
In “Stories You Can Read Smoothly,” which also means “Stories You Can Read in One Go,” there are several volumes of short stories that can be read in 15 minutes or less. They can be read in one sitting. Volume 1 is great for people who are just starting to learn Japanese. There is furigana for all the kanji and easy-to-understand explanations for words you don’t know. Japanese language learners will be happy to know that after each story, there are quizzes for them to take. This helps readers learn new words as they go through the series, and it helps them understand what they are reading in the context of what they are reading.
Magic Tree House Books
People who read this series can choose to read the English versions first to improve their understanding. This series is unique because it was written in English. This series has a lot of good things going for it, like good grammar and learning how to speak better. Readers can learn more about conversational Japanese by reading the dialogue, which is kept simple for the sake of the book. In the Magic Tree House books, there are a lot of things that are fun for kids, like pirates and dinosaurs. There are a lot of these books, and the furigana that comes with them helps people learn any unfamiliar kanji.
One Stormy Night — Arashi no Yoru ni (あらしのよるに)
A stormy night turns out to be the start of a friendship Mel the goat didn’t expect. It turns out that Gabu the wolf had also found a place to hide from the lightning and thunder in the dark barn. They huddle together and find that they have a lot in common. But what will other people think about this new friendship? It teaches cultural lessons about how the Japanese see friendship, love, and companionship when it comes to these two people who aren’t friends at first.
Even adults love stories about sports! There’s a basketball team that doesn’t belong in the All-Star Game. Slam Dunk tells their story. Hanamichi, the main character, joins the team in order to get a girl, but he ends up becoming a fan of the game. The book has furigana to help people understand, and having a translated version of the manga will make sure people understand what they’re reading.
Night on the Galactic Railroad — Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru (銀河鉄道の夜)
One of the best-known illustrators is Mari Takabayashi, who wrote and drew this story. Giovanni is a boy who has a lot of heart-wrenching responsibilities. He finds himself on a train with a lot of sad people. The way this story is written is good for people who are just starting to learn about words. It also has a lot of words that are new to them.
Scary! — Kowai! (怖い)
Japan is known for its scary stories, which are often supernatural in nature and have a lot of blood and gore (just think of The Ring). Make your Japanese study more interesting with this book of scary stories by 15 different Japanese authors. Because Kowai! is aimed at young people, the sentences are simple and the furigana comes with kanji. A dictionary and grammar reference book may be useful to have on hand, especially for people who are just starting to learn how to speak English. Pictures are also there to help.
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes — Sadako no Senbazuru
An author from Canada and the United States has written a story that has been made into a Japanese movie now. When it comes to hard things like war and disease, this book is well-known around the world because it talks about how to have hope in the face of adversity. It’s great for adults who want to learn Japanese because it has a lot of important history. The picture book version is good for people who are learning the language because it has furigana over all the kanji and simple grammar. Because this book was originally written in English, cross-referencing can make sure that everyone can understand it.
Bonus Brave Story — ブレイブ・ストーリー
Brave Story is a book that talks about very serious things. The main character is left behind by his father, and then his mother tries to kill herself. The boy wants to get through his problems and find a magical world. The book led to a popular newspaper series in Japan, so if you find it interesting, you can easily find more after you finish the book.
Have Fun Learning Japanese for Beginners with Japanese Books!
The Japanese language is hard, so take a break while you learn it! Learning Japanese with an app like Speechling doesn’t have to be boring. You can mix things up by reading Japanese books for kids to add some fun. These Japanese books for kids will help you learn new words and improve your reading comprehension while you enjoy the simple pleasure of reading again. You will be learning more about Japanese culture at the same time, which will help you learn the language better.