What level can I start reading books?

What level can I start reading books? I’m talking about elementary books for young kids, and I will work my way up from there. I want to be able to use my Japanese and not loose it. And yes I know that WK is an srs based system. Also if you know any good easy reading books, please link to them.


I think you can start with graded readers or Satori reader now. Well If you only know N5 grammar then just grader readers level 1, but If you know up to N4 then you can read up to level 2, and Satori reader should also be fine. Once you’re comfortable with this you should try native material, because imo there’s no waiting to be ready to read. The only way to improve at reading native material, is to read native material. And It will be hard no matter what level you’re at. That being said the recommend level to start reading is 20 I believe, and you should be comfortable reading around 30-40 as long as you start reading at 20.

I say you should start reading Satori reader and graded readers now. Once you’re comfortable with that try some native material and if you want help you should join one of the book clubs, beginner or intermediate .


The most important thing to reading is grammar. Without it, you can’t read even children’s stories no matter how much kanji or words you know. Tae Kim’s and Genki’s should both individually be able to take you to about an N4 level grammar.

After that, whatever you read basically comes down to what you can tolerate. Your initial kanji and vocab expands your tolerance level. Most people are fine with reading children’s level material and NHK Easy (one of the better beginner reading sources) at around the level 10s.


Thank you for your recommendation, I would like to try and join in one of the book clubs :slight_smile:

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I use Textfugu, so I know most of the grammar points that are on there.

Also, the average elementary school 6th grader probably knows like 3 times as many words as WK teaches, so it’s quite a ways off that you can comfortably read books aimed at them.


After about level 15 or 20 I would recommend that you get the TangoRisto app (iOS and Android). They have resources at various difficulty levels.


Textfugu’s fine, but if memory serves it doesn’t cover as much as the two Genkis or Tae Kim’s. I would recommend either after Textfugu.


I was hoping that I would find the intermediate book club appropriate, but I know nowhere near enough vocab to be able to read those books, but I’ve already read よつばと and a few other manga that the beginning level is at… :frowning:

Then try to read other easy life mangas! For instance, 俺物語!!


I’ve heard good things about that actually, thanks!
but it’s more about the social aspect of a book club

I passed Level 1, and my day job is translation. I still suck at reading ordinary Japanese newspapers and books. Even though I translate contracts (legal stuff) all day, I have not developed a tenth of the vocabulary that an ordinary Japanese elementary school student has. I have been slowly working my way through the Kumon Kokugo materials (kokugo is what Japanese kids call their Japanese language classes). It’s full of words I just don’t encounter at work. I read Japanese contracts all day, but I don’t write that much. So, I suck at writing. I don’t have very many sophisticated adult-level conversations in Japanese. So, I suck at it. You have to really work on each aspect of language to get better at it, and there’s only so much overlap. Even in our own language, this is true: we all have a friend or relative who is a great talker, but not much of a reader. Or a reader who is a poor communicator.
To generalize:
A general rule in life (not just for learning Japanese) is that you will become good at whatever you do a lot. (If you have never lifted weights, don’t expect to lift much weight, or have much stamina. If you have never played piano, it will take years of practice to be able to sight-read an ordinary pop song.)

tl;dr: it won’t take you long to learn to read simplified materials for students. It will take you a very long time to get to the level of reading adult novels, especially things like historical fiction.


I’ll second the Graded Readers recomendation. I’m currently in chapter 8 of the Genki 1 book, and I started a few weeks ago with the level 0 of the series.

Short stories, not too childish, and you can fully understand the main storyline, provided you’ll have to look a few times in the dictionary for those few words you don’t know… in my case usually 4-5 words per book (until I reach the New Year’s book, wich was full of words related with customs and traditions :sweat_smile:).

You get a real confidence booster when you finish a story that’s all in japanese (and not related to the characters in any textbook :joy:), so start ASAP!!



I would say grammar is the most important part. To read beyond Graded Readers, you would probably need around N3-N2.

For Japanese children, maybe PICO, try reading something with zero Kanji… and try to gauge the difficulty.

Of course even Japanese children have very good grammar, albeit limited vocab and Kanji.


I’m sorry to hear that, D:

Well, If you can get an ereader with a built in dictionary, or any ereader on the ipad you can copy and paste it into imiwa, then maybe the vocab part won’t be such a crutch? The highlights are around how many words I look up, or readings I double check, per page.


I honestly started trying soon after jumping into Genki. I am not great. I have some children’s manga…Yotsuba& and Nontan books

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If you are in Japan or can import books, I would recommend the
読んでおきたい名作 series.
It’s native material, but it is focused for readers of each one of the elementary school years.

I started with 小学1年 when I was around lvl 11, althought the topics are really simple and the stories are very short, I was motivated by the fact I could actually read 100% of the words, but I did not know the meaning of sooo many of them. So it’s really helped me build up vocabulary. The fact that I was able to read all the kanjis and just had to look up for meanings helped keep the frustration level low.

Gradually I’ve moved up in the school years, and I’m now reading 小学4年, I have started to struggle with the kanjis, since there are a lot of new ones. So I’m thinking about pausing the book for a couple more levels in WnKn and then continue.


thanks, i’ll give this a try :slight_smile:

I just got kindle installed on my tablet yesterday… handles light novels much better than ebook reader does, threw a bunch of highlights on and checked things pretty easily! thanks for the tip tenshisan

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Just going to emphasize everyone’s above comments about grammar. It’s definitely key to to being able to read over kanji any day. I started translating light novels (Shakugan no Shana was my first endeavor) for anime series that ended before the light novels did. Back then, my grammar also sucked, but it was translating that taught me it. Unfortunately, I relied so much on Rikai-chan that I barely learned any Kanji then! There are so many Kanji-assistance tools out there that you can definitely read material beyond your Kanji level as long as your grammar level is high. The cool part about Kanji is that mapping out sentence structure is pretty easy by cycling between Kanji and hiragana. You can make yourself essentially a Mad Libs page then use context to figure out a lot of Kanji. The ones you can’t, you look up. You’ll start off quite slow, but it gets easier the more you do it!