Help me expand this list! If you know of anywhere outside Japan where you can buy or borrow Japanese children’s books, or if you have more information about any of the places already on this list, e-mail me and let me know. Please include a link, if possible, and a general idea of things like how big the store is or how many books are available. (If it’s a library, see if there’s a way to search for all Japanese children’s books: for example, with the Tacoma library, if you search for “JAJ” (JApanese Juvenile) all the available books are returned.)
- Kinokuniya: I’ve never been to this location but I presume it’s like the one in Seattle: that is, a spectacular source for new Japanese books, including children’s books and manga.
- San Francisco Public Library – Western Addition Branch: Only this branch specializes in Japanese books. It is west of SF Japan town. There are hundreds of Japanese kids books. They have all levels from kid’s picture books to juvenile books. They also have adult level books in a different section. (Thanks to Wayne for the description!)
- Kinokuniya: It’s been many years since I’ve been to this location, but like the Seattle branch, it was, and presumably still is, a huge Japanese-language bookstore with a good selection of children’s books and manga.
- Ann Arbor Public Library: over a hundred Japanese children’s books, spread out over the various branches.
- The Dawn Treader: used bookstore with a shelf of Japanese books; in my experience, not very many children’s books, but there does tend to be manga.
- Mirai: medium-sized store with a good amount of new and some used books.
New York City
- Powell’s: the most famous used bookstore in Portland, with a fairly robust Japanese childrens’ book section.
- The Nashville Public Library: has about 20 children’s books in Japanese, ranging from high level 1 to low level 3. These seem to all be at the main branch. Not much, but it is a place to start. (Thanks to e_dub_kendo for the description!)
- McKay Used Books: I can’t speak for their other 2 locations, but the Nashville location is an enormous used book store, with an entire bookcase of Asian books. Generally these are about 70% Japanese. I usually only find 1 or 2 children’s books per visit, but there’s always plenty of manga. Prices are incredibly cheap. Generally I pay less than $1 per book. Sometimes you can find manga and light novels in really decent condition being sold for .25 cents. Definitely a resource worth checking out. (Thanks again to e_dub_kendo!)
- Pierce County Library: there are around 800 Japanese books of all levels spread among the various branches, though I can’t say how many of those are children’s books. The Lakewood branch and University Place branch seem to have the most.
- Tacoma Public Library: currently has around 125 Japanese kids’ books at the main branch.
- Nikkei Bunko: If you are at all near Seattle and at all interested in tadoku, visit this place as soon as humanly possible. They have hundreds of children’s books and manga to lend, and the volunteers Nara and Bruce are extremely welcoming.
- Seattle Public Library: over 700 children’s books, spread over the various branches; most at the Central Library or International District/Chinatown Branch.
- Kinokuniya: a huge Japanese-language bookstore with a large selection of manga and many kids’ books.
3 Responses to Local Sources for Japanese Kids’ Books
- 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
- About Myself
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- Classification System
- Detailed Reviews of Graded Readers
- Detailed Reviews of Level 2 Books
- Detailed Reviews of Level 3 Books
- Detailed Reviews of Level 4 Books
- Detailed Reviews of Level 5 Books
- EhonNavi Books
- Extensive Reading Basics
- Extensive Reading Materials Online
- Extensive Reading Paper Summaries and Notes
- Extensive Reading Resources
- Illustrated Reference Books
- Japanese Language Learning Resources
- Mini Reviews of Level 1 Books
- Mini Reviews of Level 2 Books
- Mini Reviews of Level 3 Books
- Mini Reviews of Level 4 Books
- Mini Reviews of Level 5 Books
- Mini-Reviews of Level 6 Books
- Nikkei Bunko Library Books
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- Read More or Die
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- tadoku.org (in Japanese)
- Talk to the Clouds
- The Extensive Reading Foundation
- The Extensive Reading Pages
- 日本多読研究会 (Japanese Graded Readers Research Group)
Japanese Language Learning Resources
The Nashville Public Library ( http://www.library.nashville.org/ ) has about 20 children’s books in Japanese, ranging from high level 1 to low level 3. These seem to all be at the main branch. Not much, but it is a place to start.
McKay Used Books ( http://www.mckaybooks.com/ )
I can’t speak for their other 2 locations, but the Nashville location is an enormous used book store, with an entire bookcase of Asian books. Generally these are about 70% Japanese. I usually only find 1 or 2 children’s books per visit, but there’s always plenty of manga. Prices are incredibly cheap. Generally I pay less than $1 per book. Sometimes you can find manga and light novels in really decent condition being sold for .25 cents. Definitely a resource worth checking out.
I’ll add more as I discover them. Still a few things I really need to get off my lazy rear end and check out ;P.
After reading your blog, I wondered if the SF Public Library would have Japanese books. They do!! This idea would not have occurred to me except for your blog. I went today and checked out 10 Japanese kid’s picture books. Thanks!!
San Francisco Public Library – Western Addition Branch (http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=0100002101)
Only this branch specializes in Japanese books. It is west of SF Japan town. There are hundreds of Japanese kids books. They have all levels from kid’s picture books to juvenile books. They also have adult level books in a different section.
Yay! Thank you, Wayne! That’s wonderful news. I added it to the list.