Beginner Reading Suggestion - 「日本のふしぎ なぜ?どうして?」

I often see people asking about how to get into reading. I’ve been wanting to get a physical book that I can use to learn and study, but most of the suggestions are manga (which I’m not at all interested in). So I went on the hunt.

That’s when I found the 「日本のふしぎ なぜ?どうして?」series! It’s a children’s book series that uses a light comic style to teach different topics. The book I’m reading is all about the history of Japan. I have found that because the book is teaching me history along with challenging me to read I am more likely to pick it back up and continue my studies. The book is written on the elementary school level, and it has furigana for all kanji. I think it’s worth noting that mostly the furigana text is so small that you can easily ignore it.

I wanted to share this series just in case there are other people like me out there searching for an easy entrance into reading that doesn’t require mangas. Let me know if you’ve read any of this series or know of other beginner books in this style.

Here are a couple of sample pages so that you can see the writing level.

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what would you reccommend if i can understand the first 2 letters in japanese but cant understand the rest?

i mean i can read the hiragana its just i cant understand the meaning of it cause im not familiar with actual japanese words… does that mean i should study vocab?

I understood “Japan’s” and thats it.

Well, it’s always slow at the very beginning. Just find yourself some sort of grammar studying website, app, or book, which will get you started on both grammar and vocab. Genki is a popular book, LingoDeer is a decent app, and Tae Kim is the go-to website around these parts. From there, it’s a matter of building up. If you want to read even a simple book like OP’s, be prepared to be looking up a lot of vocab and grammar concepts. Google Translate gets a lot of (well-deserved) flak, but it has a very useful kanji drawing tool to help you look up unknown kanji.

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i didnt know that google trans feature existed, thx for letting me know !

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Everything @Shadkat said is correct.

Personally, I waited until I had learned a decent chunk of grammar, vocabulary, and kanji before reading native material. I know that I can easily get frustrated and become disinterested if the material is too hard. I think you need to be honest with yourself about when you are prepared to take that step. It’s hard for me to say since it is a personal evaluation.

Also, this is how I use stories/books to study.

On each page I read the whole thing out loud. There’s a 100% chance that I’ll come across things that I don’t understand, but I read through them in order to finish the page. Once I’ve done that, I go back and read sentence by sentence to determine the meaning. If there’s a word I don’t know, I write it down. If there’s a grammar structure that I don’t recognize, I write it down. I do this for each sentence on the page. Then I take my notes and go research each question that I have (this could take anywhere from a few minutes to 40 minutes) and take notes on what each piece means.

Now that I have my new notes and have hopefully learned some new grammar points, I reread the whole page aloud and ask myself “do I really understand it?” If I don’t, then I go back through sentence by sentence and find new questions. If I do, then I turn the page!

Again, reading native material (even children’s material) is not going to instantly come easy. This is work, but it’s all worth it!

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ya i aint a chump who’s gonna get discouraged that easily !

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I like the look of these books! It’s hard for me to read vertical text, so I think that’d be a struggle. But it’s a skill like anything else, I know.
But they’re very appealing. I wish I had the spare funds to buy these–I’m pretty sure shipping would kill the cheap prices, haha.

I’m with you on the vertical text! It’s something that I need more practice on, so I’m glad this book uses it.

I should have mentioned that the book is a decent length. It’s 189 pages long and about an inch thick. It’s well worth the 1000¥ if you can find it without crazy shipping!

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@suri123 I added some sample pages in case you want to see the level of the writing.

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higher than my reading ability thats for sure

Thanks for the heads-up. I’ve been looking for an appropriate reading material to improve my reading speed but to no avail. All of my practice are from Japanese textbooks. I have a lot of books but all of them are in English, even my Japanese novels are translated. Haha. I’ll try to check if Kinokuniya Shinjuku have them after the N3 test this Sunday.

Kinokuniya in 吉祥寺 is where I got mine, so you will probably find it there. Good luck on the test! 頑張って!

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Thanks! I’m looking forward to the day where I will be able to read novels by Kawabata, Mishima, etc. haha. Maybe in 3 years or so.

The なせ? どうして? series it’s great !!! There’re lots of titles graded for kids going from 1st grade until 6th grade in the same series.

I wouldn’t recommend start so early with native reading … Kids stories have no consideration regard grammar, so it’s not very beginner friendly , word count it’s fairly high as well, so that could end looking a lot for new terms and become somewhat discouraging…

I would recommend graded readers for Japanese learners, as they are intended for you to develop reading skills from a very early start (halfway a basic grammar textbook and 500 words under your belt as a rough estimation).
I think they are a great way to avoid feeling that you can only understand your textbook dialogues while shortening the gap to native material👌

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