I’ve come across various books that are collections of short stories or essays designed for different elementary school grades, and I think that they might be useful for those of us doing extensive reading in Japanese.

Pros:

  • Because they’re divided by grade, you already have a good idea of how difficult they’ll be.
  • I’ve read two of these kinds of books; they were both level 3 by my system, but both of them had more content than the average level 3 book, which usually has around 1,000 – 3,000 words: “New Stories That Linger In The Heart for First Graders” had around 5,300 words and “Heartwarming Stories for Second Graders” had around 4,700. So at least at the lower grades, one of these books will most likely last you longer than an average book.
  • They seem to be fairly widely available (I haven’t checked every book on my list, but Kinokuniya had both of the books that I’ve read), not too expensive new, and if you can get them used many of them are extremely cheap.
  • They’re divided into different stories by different authors, so one book gives you not just varying subjects to amuse yourself with, but also examples of how short stories in Japanese are written and what different writing styles are like.
  • There are fewer pictures; depending on your reading level this might be a good thing or a bad one, but it does mean that there’s more room for words.
  • There are different kinds of collections: some based on literature, some about science, and even some about ghosts.
  • If you try one book and particularly enjoy it, finding the next book is as simple as moving up a grade or seeing if there are more books at the same grade in a related series; you might also be able to look up other books by an author who particularly caught your attention.

Cons:

  • Of the two books I’ve read, not all of the stories were extremely interesting in and of themselves, and I’d go so far as to call “Heartwarming Stories for Second Graders” boring (and my threshold for being amused is generally pretty low). I am sure that some series are better than others, but I think that these are probably the kinds of things you read to add to your general ability and not so much for their own sake. The books generally felt, to me, like extensions of what kids might read in school, so they had that vibe of “what adults think would be beneficial for proper child development.” That can be a good point if you’re interested in Japanese educational culture or want to try to mimic that experience. (If you want fart jokes instead, my Zorori series review is right this way.)
  • Just because these are for kids doesn’t necessarily mean they’re easy: I would recommend that someone new to extensive reading get some experience reading shorter stories or graded readers before tackling even the ones for first graders, because with less pictures and more text, even the book for first-graders I read was on the harder end of level 3.
  • e_dub_kendo points out that that they have the potential to get pretty repetitive, especially if you pick up some of the more specialized ones like the collections of fairy tales.

I’m going to list as many of these series as I can find, but I’ve only read two of these books: if you read any of them, feel free to send me a short review with what kinds of stories it had, what level it was, the approximate number of words and your rating. Also, if you find any other series like these, let me know and I’ll add them.

I’ve added Amazon links because it’s easier to collect them all in one place this way, I like to be able to see the covers and I certainly wouldn’t complain if someone used the links to order through (as an affiliate I get a percentage), but check around for the most cost-efficient way to buy before you actually order any of these, because the odds are good it’s not Amazon. Click here for suggestions on where to find these books.

新心にのこる◯年生の読みもの
New Stories That Linger In The Heart For 1st-6th Graders
The book for first graders had ten short stories, and the subjects were varied: there were standard pieces of short fiction, a non-fiction piece, some folk tales and a story by Nankichi Niimi, a famous children’s author. (This one: 一年生たちとひよめ. It was unabridged, but had fewer kanji.) Had a soft cover, so would cost less to ship if shipping costs are calculated by weight. ★★★★☆
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.


なぜ?どうして?科学のお話 ◯年生
Why? How? Scientific Stories for 1st-6th Graders
I haven’t read any of these, but Kanjiguy highly recommended the one for first-graders. Each story was about 2-3 pages long, so with 183 pages that’s quite a few stories!
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.


10分で読めるお話 ◯年生
Stories You Can Read In 10 Minutes for 1st-6th Graders
Fembassist has been reading these, and says they’re mostly short stories from Japan.
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.


10分で読める名作 ◯年生
Classics You Can Read In 10 Minutes for 1st-6th Graders
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10分で読める物語 ◯年生
Tales You Can Read In 10 Minutes for 1st-6th Graders
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10分で読める伝記 ◯年生
Biographies You Can Read In 10 Minutes for 1st-6th Graders
This series isn’t completely available yet, but I assume they’ll be going to 6th grade eventually!
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.


なぜ?どうして? みぢかなぎもん◯年生
Why? How? Answers to Everyday Questions for 1st-6th graders
Another new series.
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なぜ?どうして?科学なぞとき物語 ◯年生
Why? How? Stories about Solving Mysteries of Science for 1st-6th Graders
I guess someone has found that there’s really a market for books like these.
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.


心があったかくなる話 ◯年生
Heartwarming Stories for 1st-4th Graders
The 2nd grade book of this series was level 3, 158 pages and 4,700 words (est.), and contained 14 stories. The stories were all slice-of-life short fiction, and, to me, weren’t as interesting or varied as the ones in 新心にのこる1年生の読みもの; it is pretty much what you would expect from a book with this kind of title. Hard cover. ★★☆☆☆
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.


ほんとうに心があったかくなる話 ◯年生
Truly Heartwarming Stories for 1st-4th Graders
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.


心にしみるお母さんの話 ◯年生
Mother’s Heart-Piercing Stories for 1st-4th Graders
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読書の時間に読む本 小学◯年生
A Book To Read During Reading Time for 1st-6th Graders
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読書の時間に読む本〈2〉小学◯年生
A Book To Read During Reading Time (2) for 1st-6th Graders
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読んでおきたい ◯年生の読みもの
Must-Read Stories For 1st-6th Graders
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齋藤孝のイッキによめる!名作選 小学◯年生
Takashi Saitō’s Selection Of Classics To Read At One Go for 1st-6th Graders
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.


齋藤孝のイッキによめる!音読名作選 小学◯年生
Takashi Saitō’s Selection Of Classics To Read Aloud At One Go for 1st-3rd Graders
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.


米村でんじろうのイッキによめる! おもしろ科学 小学◯年生
Yonemura Denjirō’s Interesting Science To Read At One Go for 1st-3rd Graders
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日本のむかし話 ◯年生
Tales of Old Japan for 1st-3rd Graders
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◯年生の読みものー理科や算数が好きになる
Reading Material for 1st-6th Graders: Start To Enjoy Science And Math
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.


おばけ・ゆうれい話 ◯年生
Ghost and Spirit Stories for 1st-3rd Graders
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(There are also older versions of these that are very cheap used: おばけ・ゆうれい話〈1年生, おばけ・ゆうれい話〈2年生〉, おばけ・ゆうれい話〈3年生〉)

科学なぜどうして ◯年生
The Whys and Hows of Science for 1st-3rd Graders
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.


世界のわらい話 ◯年生
Funny Stories from Around The World for 1st-3rd Graders
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.



(There are also older versions of these, although the used price for them isn’t always better than the used price for the newer ones. 世界のわらい話〈1年生〉, 世界のわらい話〈2年生〉, 世界のわらい話〈3年生〉)

グリム童話 ◯年生
Grimm Fairy Tales for 1st-3rd Graders
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アンデルセン童話 ◯年生
Andersen Fairy Tales for 1st-3rd Graders
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ことわざ物語 ◯年生
Proverb Tales for 1st-3rd Graders
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(There is an older version of this series as well, which may be cheaper used: ことわざものがたり 一年生 , ことわざものがたり 二年生 , ことわざ物語 三年生 )

イソップ童話 ◯年生
Aesop’s Fables for 1st-3rd Graders
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.


世界の名作童話 ◯年生
Famous Children’s Stories from Around The World for 1st-3rd Graders
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.


親も子も読む名作 ◯年生の読みもの
Masterpieces for Parents and Children: Reading Material for 1st-6th Graders
Click here for other suggestions on where to find these books.

 

3 Responses to Overview of Short Story Collections For Japanese Grade-Schoolers

  1. e_dub_kendo says:

    Nice post. I’m wondering how much overlap there is between the stories in each of these collections. Obviously some of them, like the Scientific-stories that Kanjiguy reccomended, are more likely to be original, but many of these seemed to be collections of Japanese Fairytales/folktales. I have noticed that amongst the handful of sites I’ve been using there is a lot of overlap as far as these tales go, so my bet would be that many of these readers have similar overlap. If so, I’d suggest being careful with purchasing so you don’t end up reading the same set of stories in several different books.

  2. Liana says:

    Ooh, that’s a very good point! You mind if I add that to the “cons” section?

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