Reading your childhood favourites- good or bad?

On my last visit to a Japanese bookshop, I picked up a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or as it’s known here はらぺこあおむし. I read this book a lot as a child and know the story well- caterpillar hatches, caterpillar eats, caterpillar makes a cocoon, caterpillar turns into a butterfly.

I’ve really not done much reading in Japanese, in terms of completed stuff I’ve only read the graded reader どうしてうみのみずはしおからい?, but I was wondering what people thought of this as a strategy; reading books you already know fairly well in your native language.

Is this a strategy a good one because I’m not faced with something completely new and so have a chance of understanding things better, or is it a recipe for boredom? Has anyone else been reading their childhood favourites and if so, which ones have you enjoyed the most?


Honestly, only downside I can think of is the risk of shattering all your childhood dreams when you discover the book is not really as good as you remember it being. :stuck_out_tongue:


I dunno, I feel like I relate to the caterpillar much more nowadays.
私のおなかもうペコペコ :sob:


I mean, we’re reading Yotsuba here, and it’s a lot better than I remember it being, but it’s always been one of my favorites, too! :smiley: It’s great being able to read it in its native language. :slight_smile:


I think it’s a great strategy. In fact, this is the very strategy I used for English - and the fact that I’m able to easily use this forum and also watch English movies and news and YouTube videos is proof that it works!
The great thing about reading books or listening to audiobooks you’ve already read/listened to in your native language is that as you already know the contents, you don’t have to worry about understanding every single thing. Things you don’t understand - you can guess from memory and from context. Therefore, you don’t need to stop, at least, not as often as you would have if that was a new book, so the flow is constant.
And there is also a very nice bonus of re-reading your favorite book again!


Sounds like a good idea to me. As already mentioned, it can be helpful if you’re already at least vaguely familiar with the contents. Also, I think if there are any slightly-obscure nuances to the language used (e.g. set expressions/idioms etc), then having some pre-knowledge of the intended meaning can make those much easier to understand, rather than trying to decipher everything from completely unfamiliar material.

I’m not sure this qualifies as a childhood book as such (but then again maybe it does, as I read the English version multiple times back in school), but I’ve just started reading this one, on the left:

I’m tripping over some of the vocab readings a bit, but so far it’s not tooooo bad. The nice thing is, as it’s very close to the English version, which in turn is very close to the radio series, sometimes it’s like I can hear the dulcet tones of Peter Jones as the Guide reading along in my head, which is quite helpful! Or unnerving. Possibly both.

Also, if I do ever get stuck, it’s lovely to have the words Don’t Panic inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.


I didn’t know you weren’t a native English speaker :exploding_head:


I confess I rather feel that quite a bit of the humour in that book derives from Adams’ rather specific delivery…


I watched an episode of Hibike with Japanese subtitles recently. One thing that I didn’t anticipate and I think is good to know is that it wasn’t boring at all because most of the time… well… all of the time I was trying to figure out what the characters are saying. It feels more like a translating experience rather than a watching one (at my level at least). On the other hand, it’s pretty hard, so I got exhausted after just one episode.


I would love to read this again in Japanese!

I also find that reading things aimed at kids (not necessarily a childhood favourite) will be a boon to your reading skills. You’ll learn some common words that kids know, but may not necessarily come up in grammar books; depending on the audience it is aimed at, you’ll have some helpful furigana, but not on every word; also the subject matter can be uncomplicated enough, that you’ll be upping your reading speed, page by page. Also, you might be exposed to interesting grammar and language.


Top word from this book 蛹(さなぎ) meaning chrysalis or pupa. Obviously not that useful to many learners of Japanese, but I love nature so I’m happy to have learnt it.

It was a bit too much of an easy read though. I think my next choice will be a little more tricky. Sadly there’s no Book Off within 50km of me though.

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But you’ll be ahead when you get around to reading Murakami’s 1Q84, which features chrysalises (as a plotpoint? Not sure, only read the first 5 chapters or so, of the English version).

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