This is an incomplete list of all the Level 3 books available from the Pierce County Library; it’ll be updated as I keep reading them.
From Extensive Reading in Japanese, the definition of a Level 3 book:
Level 3: Kana and kanji are mixed, but the book is mainly written in hiragana. Furigana is provided for any kanji in the text. The content is not only fiction, but may also contain facts or accounts of some natural phenomena. Pictures are the main feature of the book. Japanese native readers would be six to ten 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.
Mazes through Civilization
作／絵：香川 元太郎（かがわ げんたろう, Kagawa Gentarō）
Level 3 絵本, 32 pages, 1,700 words (est.)
Although the bulk of the book is devoted to illustrations of mazes set in various ancient civilizations, the language used is fairly sophisticated, and I liked the feeling of instant feedback provided by having to follow the instructions to complete the various puzzles. Take care to find all the crystal pyramids, and you’ll wind up in Atlantis…
The Secret Egg
作／絵：かみや しん（Kamiya Shin）
Level 3 本, 48 pages, 1,000 words (est.)
A sweet book about a boy playing in the woods who intends to dig a trap, but can’t make anything bigger than a shallow hole — which looks like a perfect size for a nest.
Winter Comes to Moomin Valley
訳：矢田堀 厚子（やたぼり あつこ, Yatabori Atsuko）
Level 3 絵本, 47 pages, 1,500 words (est.)
I had never heard of such a thing as a Moomin until I read somewhere that the series, originally in Swedish and about a family of cartoony-looking trolls, is quite popular in Japan. In this one, one of the Moomins wakes up prematurely from hibernation and experiences winter for the first time. It’s a slow-paced, gentle comic, and I rather enjoyed it.
Picture Book Nebuta Festival
作：あべ弘士（あべ ひろし, Abe Hiroshi）
Level 3 絵本, 32 pages, 900 words (est.)
I knew I had seen this guy before — he illustrated “森からのてがみ ２ (Letters from the Forest #2)” In this book, we follow the process of creating an illustrated float for a local festival. This would be a nice book for a classroom: it’s heavy on the kanji, but they would mostly be ones that students would be familiar with around the third year of study, and the ones that are difficult often have pictures — you might not know what 筆 are, but there’s a picture right next to the second time it’s used. So it combines the good parts of an upper-level book (the content, the kanji, the complex sentences) with the good parts of a lower-level one (the pictures, the manageable length).
- Extensive reading is known as 多読, or tadoku in Japanese. To try it, start with very easy books (ones with no more than two or three unknown words per page), and follow these principles:
1. Don’t look up words in the dictionary while reading.
2. Skip over parts you don’t understand.
3. If you aren’t enjoying one book, toss it aside and get another.
Find something to read!
Hundreds of free books and stories online
Local bookstores and libraries
Buying new and used books online
For more information, read "What Is Extensive Reading?" and "Classification System."
To learn more about Kunihide Sakai, who developed the three principles of tadoku and has worked to popularize it in Japan for years, read this interview with him.
Finally, for more than you ever wanted to know about why I believe extensive reading is worth your time, read my tadoku manifesto.
Superfluous StatsBooks read: 303
Word count (since starting the blog): 380,500
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