What to read when you're a beginner?

I’m only at level 3. Is there any sort of media or books that a beginner should try and read? Maybe I could try to read a children’s books or should make an attempt to read a “real” book. I wont be able to understand much but maybe I could learn new kanji if I read a real book. What did you do when you were level 3 to progress or if you are level 3 what are you doing right now to learn more?
reading

8 Likes

In my opinion, it depends on whether you enjoy it or not. For example, I am reading free books from project gutenburg. I don’t understand whole context completely yet, but I try to recognize kanjis, sentence structures etc. While progressing wanikani, I realize that my recognization increases bit by bit. And I do this because I enjoy this. Also I read NHK News Easy time to time. Some people like to read manga which I don’t enjoy. Mangas help a lot to those people too.

Finding what you enjoy is more important I think. If you are not unsure, give them all try.

5 Likes

Check out the book clubs on here. Some good recommendations for all levels.
Then there’s things like graded readers, NHK Easy, or Satori Reader

4 Likes

Check the Absolute Beginner and Beginner Book clubs on the forums :slight_smile:

A very extensive list of reading resources:

15 Likes

This thread is such a nice bit of serendipity! I was just in the middle of a lull of reviews and wondering if there was anything to read at a low level, and boom, this thread appears on the recent posts list on the WK dashboard! Bless you, op

5 Likes

Hahah thank you! I felt the same way but there weren’t any absolute beginner books in the recent so ! made one myself. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I have to thank you for taking initiative and making the thread, @jprspereira’s reply above has really got some useful stuff

1 Like

When I first started off I would play children’s games for the Nintendo DS. They didn’t have that much kanji and the grammar wasn’t really hard.

2 Likes

What I personally did was focusing on grammar for a bit (Finished Genki I and Tae Kim’s guide) and then I used japanese.io to read my first texts.

The texts are divided by levels based on JLPT’s kanji and vocab, kanji density, and sentences length. You can pick something easy to start with, or just anything intermediate that picks your interest. You can click on vocab you don’t know and the English definition will appear, then you can check the “Vocabulary” tab, sort by the most looked up, download words in Anki format, and just study the more common words and kanji you had more issues with.

I started with 銀河鉄道の夜. I’ll admit it was extremely painful at first, I had to stop to look up many grammar points and try to make sense of the sentences, and my reading was very slow. It took me about a month reading 2-5 hours a day. However, after I finished it, I got used to the sentence structures and reading got so much easier.

After that and a few shorter stories here and there, I moved to physical light novels. Which are easier than “regular” books and novels, but use a more natural language than children’s books. Right now I’m reading キノの旅, the first chapter was very hard since I wasn’t used to the author’s style and the vocab (all the gun related terms…) but now I’m almost done with Volume 2 and it’s getting so much easier. It’s pretty simple compared to other light novels I have looked through, so I think it’s also good one to start with.

If you are interested in this sort of media, you could also try visual novels. I think they are great for beginners especially since you can use a text hooker to copy the vocab you don’t know, most dialogue lines are voiced, and you just have to click on a button to repeat the voiced lines. My first one was ななついろ★ドロップス, currently going through あなたに恋する恋愛ルセット, both are very easy to read.

5 Likes

I’d also like to point out that we have the Picture Book Challenge. IDK your Japanese background aside from being in level 3 on WK, but just in case you find that overwhelming… this will be the perfect place to start.

6 Likes

Seconding @totembe in that for me personally, it helps significantly if I am interested in the material.

I’ve found it feels exponentially more painful for me to spend time looking up grammar, vocab, or kanji for a novel/manga/passage/etc I am not really interested in, versus doing so for one I am interested in.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do! The Book Clubs+Picture Book Challenge are great and everyone is super friendly. I also like NHK News Easy for a short read once or twice throughout the day.

1 Like

Ōkami has furigana for mostly every kanji in it, and most of the dialouge is like a visual novel. It makes it a bit easier to find words on imiwa or Jisho if you haven’t seen them, tho it uses a mix of old and new dialects iirc. It’s not a learning tool neccessarily but the theme of the game is like caligraphy so it was appealing to me.

I had to set my console’s system language to 日本語 to get it to work, since there isn’t a language option on the menu. This is just one thing I try to learn with because I already like the content anyway, there might be something like that you already know of.

The first book I read in Japanese was The Very Hungry Caterpillar and I highly recommend it. The twist ending is mind blowing.

4 Likes

I think a thing that helps me out is watching Netflix with Japanese subtitles. My wife cant really catch all of the slang all the time and she doesn’t want to miss anything by having me explain stuff all the time PLUS for the stuff I recognize, it kinda helps me see a practical use for the kanji I’ve learned and it feels really good when I can pick up a whole line of dialogue at the bottom of the screen.

Once upon a time I also dreamed of starting to read. First at level 20 and then at 30. Because I already wanted to know a good part of the kanji I will encounter instead of having to look up most of them.
But in the meantime I realized that it’s already hard for me to keep a 8 day/level schedule with radicals and kanji. Lagging behind with vocabs. So my priority is to be at 60 on Christmas.
Then I had at least a first walk through for the kanji and plan to start reading. There are some plugins out there for linking online vocab to Jisho et al.
In the meantime I also have a look at grammar once in a while.
YMMV, just my 2 cents.