Genki Graded Readers Box 1-2 Review

Hi everyone :cherry_blossom:

I haven’t seen many reviews yet for the Genki Graded Readers yet, and as someone who is using graded readers as the basis of my Japanese studies, I wanted to throw my hat into the ring and provide a review based on someone who has only completed Genki 1 and is roughly N5. I purchased these from and have finished the first box set, and am currently halfway done with box 2.

I really enjoyed the reading sections in Genki 1, and because my primary language goal is competency in reading Japanese native texts, a cornerstone of my reading practice is graded readers, such as the ASK Tadoku ones. I prefer physical copies of graded readers, so I did want to support the production of a new series in the hopes of generating more resources for the reading community.

I have to say, I really do love these books. The quality is extremely high for both the actual physical books and its pages, and for the art and content contained within. I always liked the Genki art style and thought it was cute, and I think that the art for these books are actually better than the textbooks (in my opinion). Every story has been engaging for me, and at times I have even laughed out loud at some of the surprise endings.

(if you know you know)

These books are extremely well-leveled, and, true to advertising, correspond exactly to their chapter. If you are solid on the grammar and vocab of the matching chapter, then you will have few to no issues reading the books. Each chapter in Genki has two matching books, and most of the grammar points in the chapter will be in either one or both of the books.

The stories involve both characters from Genki and one-shot stories about cat adventures or local travel. Reading through the stories really helped solidify grammar points for me, and actually helped me to gain confidence in both recognizing/understanding material I was uncertain about, such as te-forms for both adjectives and verbs.

A key advantage to these graded readers is that the grammar and vocab builds upon itself as you go through the books. This is in contrast to the ASK Tadoku Level 0 books, which are not as well-leveled and include less grammar (in my opinion). For example, in reading the ASK Tadoku level 0 books, there were a few stories that involved specialized vocabulary such as relating to New Years traditions or tofu manufacturing. In these books, I have not had to look up any vocabulary as I was very well versed with each chapter before reading. In addition, the ASK level 0 books do not build vocab/grammar as you read chronologically through the books. Each level 0 book is more of a one-shot with desu/masu forms in past/present primarily.

The biggest concern with buying these graded readers is definitely the price. These are about 55 US dollars (7700 yen per box) for 12 books in each box. Is this a fair price? I don’t really know. I will say that it is a high quality product for what it is, when including voice acting, excellent leveling/chapter matching, artwork, and the quality of the books and paper itself. As for me, I am happy with the books and think they give a lot when it comes to motivation and ability. A beginner with one chapter of Genki under their belt could read the corresponding first two books, undoubtedly. This is in contrast to the ASK Tadoku Level 0 books, wherein I feel a reader would need more familiarity with conjugation and vocab before being able to read the first story.

I hope this has been helpful in getting a different perspective on the books. Ultimately, any resource to help students gain proficiency in Japanese is a good thing in my opinion, and I hope that increased interest in graded readers begets more affordable options.

Thanks for reading :cherry_blossom:


Oh Takeshisan


Could you link to where to buy the graded readers?

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here is the link to the amazon jp genki 1 box set, also linked above in my first paragraph c:


Thank you for the review. I was considering buying these after I finished Genki 2 for what is probably a weird reason: I am very unsatisfied with the ending of the story (another if you know you know).
Of course more reading practice is also nice and will add more value to the Genki series as a whole. I decided against buying them because all of the sets cost quite a bit and spending that much money mainly in hopes for a better ending to the story of a textbook is maybe not the smartest choice :sweat_smile:

But I think if I wouldn´t already be done with the main books I would have bought these. It can be hard for beginners to find their first reading material and graded readers are always a good start. Genki managed to build up a nice cast of characters with enjoyable stories, so this might make it easier for some people.

Also, if you buy the corresponding sets for Genki 2 and finish those I need you to get back here and tell me if they finally finish up the story line properly :smiling_face_with_tear:

Where can these be purchased in the US. They are not available on

Amazon Japan delivers internationally.

Normally I would say Kinokuniya for US orders, but although they always add a markup in exchange for the convenience, they’re absurdly overpriced on these volumes right now - up to $107 for a set! Perhaps that will come back down if they start stocking them in their retail stores, like they do with the Genki textbooks.

I signed up for Amazon JP and debated getting them, but 25$ shipping on top of the 55$ is nuts. Probably a far better idea to bite the bullet and get through a Satori reader subscription. At least every line and action is thoroughly broken down, but I too would like to get away from an all digital Japanese reading experience…

Thanks for posting regardless.

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thanks for the review, that’s super interesting! I’m beyond these now, but it’s still interesting to see where their level lies in comparison to the ASK ones. I was a big fan of those.

It sounds like in comparison, the Genki graded readers are gentler on vocab and push the grammar more.

I actually thought (after going through Levels 0-2) that the ASK ones did roughly build vocab and grammar progressively. There were several instances of, oh, I just learned that from context in the last book, and now I am using that in this book to learn the next words in context. Although grammar stagnates a bit which is one reason why I moved on after Level 2. The vocab is probably much steeper in growth compared to Genki by the sounds of it. That being said, following along Genki 1 and the ASK readers (plus conversation practice with a friend), normally I only needed to look up 1-2 words per story using the ASK readers, unless it was a story about something specialised, then there were more as you say. But those were also some of the more interesting cultural ones. I guess the reason I’m being so generous to ASK is that at the time my comparison was the free ones on Tadoku and other brands - ASK was the clear winner in being laid out in a more progressive way, and getting through those gave me the confidence to transition to Satori reader and paper manga/children’s books. Anyway, I just wanted to mention that from a slightly different perspective.

Like you I really prefer non-digital resources so I was happy to support a good company. If the Genki ones had been there by the sounds of it they would have been a good option, too.

I think you’re right, level 0 in ASK is more like Genki chapter 3-6 perhaps.

The price is definitely ouch for both. I definitely felt they were super useful, but a luxury purchase. Having something in paper with native audio recordings at the beginner level is really unique!

you know, since your level is higher and these are not that valuable to you anyway, you could just download the OTO Navi app from Japan Times (alternative to CDs for their books now) and skip to the end to listen and find out if the ending is more satisfactory. :thinking: I doubt you need the text

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