This is an incomplete list of all the Level 1 books available from Nikkei Bunko, a Japanese-language library operated by the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington; it’ll be updated as I keep reading them.
From Extensive Reading in Japanese, the definition of a Level 1 book:
Level 1: Hiragana and katakana only. The text is very short, and has one-word sentences, phrases, and some complete sentences. There are plenty of visual aids to help convey meaning. Japanese native readers would be three to six 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 or YesAsia.com and compare prices and shipping costs. They may also be available at a library near you or be available through inter-library loan; you can look them up at WorldCat.org. 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 – I – U – E – O Picture Book
絵：冬野 いちこ（ふゆの いちこ, Fuyuno Ichiko）
監修：今井和子（いまい かずお, Imai Kazuo）
Level 1 絵本, 40 pages, 500 words (est.) ★★★☆☆ Hardcover
I’m tutoring a friend of mine in Japanese, and since extensive reading is kind of my thing, there will probably be a lot of level 1 books listed in the next few months, as I scope out beginner reading material. It is more difficult to find suitable books than you might expect – I suspect I’ll have a lot to say about this in the future! This one has simple, colorful pictures, a couple of words that start with each hiragana and some related words.
- 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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