This is an incomplete list of all the Level 5 books available from the Tacoma Public Library; it’ll be updated as I keep reading them.

From Extensive Reading in Japanese, the definition of a Level 5 book:

Level 5: Beginning at this level, material is quantitatively and qualitatively different from the lower levels. Level 5 books usually have more than 100 pages and fewer illustrations. Some kanji have furigana, but not all of them. Stories are fully developed and more detailed. Japanese native readers would be ten to thirteen years old.

I’ve added Amazon links for the benefit of having title images and just in case anyone wants to subsidize my reading, but if you’re interested in ordering any of these, I’d also recommend you look them up on Kinokuniya’s website and compare shipping costs. Also, all title translations are my own unless otherwise indicated, names are family name first, then given name, and 作 and 絵 mean “author” and “illustrator,” respectively.

A Handshake from Jirō
作:岸川 悦子(きしかわ えつこ, Kishikawa Etsuko)
絵:土田 義晴(つちだ よしはる, Tsuchida Yoshiharu)
Level 5 本, 125 pages, 5,700 words (est.)

My first level 5 book since I started this project, it wasn’t precisely hard, just long and with a higher proportion of unknown words than I tend to like. I understood the content and most of the details but missed just enough to annoy me, so apparently a book this level is currently about my limit, and I will try to stick to books that are a little easier for a while. I wonder if most level 5 books are about on this level, or if it’s a bit on the easy side since the narrator is a dog?

I’m actually feeling a bit of relief about reading these higher-level books because I missed having kanji around. For a Japanese language learner, used to thinking about kanji mastery as a benchmark, books in all hiragana are lonely; besides, kanji are fun, remove ambiguity and make reading quicker. It is kind of a joke among people who do translation for rom hacking; a hacker with little experience with Japanese will think saying “Translating this game should be easy! There’s no kanji!” is actually a selling point to prospective translators. To better ones than me, perhaps.

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