Review: Japanese graded readers

Japanese Graded Readers Level 0
Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

When  I started to learn Japanese in 2012  I discovered this little series with easy text for Japanese beginners at whiterabbitexpress. Back then I haven’t bought any Japanese manga yet and was just beginning to work my way through Genki I but was eager try to read some very easy stuff in Japanese. So I just ordered the first one of the Japanese graded readers series and was pleasantly surprised.

A couple of months ago I have already written about the digital version which is now available of the Graded Readers series. It’s quite comfortable but so far only available for iOS users and a little pricey with 3,59€ for ONE story.  The physical edition contains 5 to 6 stories, each one in the style of a little booklet. The paper feels great, the whole set is just a real pleasure to look at. And now for the best part: It’s nearly the same price. Each set goes for 2300Yen + an additional 800Yen shipping (e.g. to Germany). This comes down to 3100Yen for one set and if you convert the currency back to Euro it’s roughly the same price you’d pay for the digital edition.

Always wanted to make a couple pictures of my Japanese graded readers set for you but because I still keep it at my grandparents I never really got around to do so. Keep in mind that this is the first Level 0 package which is aimed at bloody beginners who are just beginning their way of learning Japanese so the stories are very “reduced” to say the least. But when you’re starting out to learn a new language there is no better motivation than being able to put your new knowledge to use for the first time. The hurdle you have to take when you want to read manga or any material which is aimed at native speakers is huge. Even with all these so-called easy ones, it will be a rather frustrating experience in the beginning.

japanese graded readersAnd that’s where the Japanese graded readers series comes in and gives you some graded reading material for every stage a Japanese learner could possibly be in. The graphic shows you how the JLPT levels would relate to the Graded Readers series. I’m not quite sure though how this is all matching up. JLPT 5 is way over the level 0 package I got. Even level 2 which is shown here to be challenging for JLPT4 learners should be too much on the easy side and doesn’t correlate with the preparation material I’ve seen.

So if you’re learning for the JLPT and want to improve your reading speed and comprehension with the Japanese Graded Readers series I’d advise you to “size up”.

I found the booklet with all these different Japanese groceries explained quite charming so I took some pictures even if it’s not a real story. You probably know by now that I have a knack for foods and cooking.

  • Buy Japanese Graded Readers directly from Japan at CDjapan
    (If you buy the book through this link, I’ll get a small referral fee which will be used to buy even more awesome books for review)

Japanese Graded Readers Level 0 002

Japanese Graded Readers Level 0 005

Note 08.07.18: And here are a few new pictures from two additional sets of the Japanese Graded Readers series I just received. unfortunately the two little box sets have been damaged during transit. Still made some pictures for of these two more advanced sets. One level one and one level two set. A new addition for the series is the QR code which gives you the ability to stream/download the audio tracks for each story directly to your mobile. Neat touch. Especially because most new laptops don’t even sport a disc reader anymore.

  • Buy Japanese Graded Readers directly from Japan at CDjapan
    (If you buy the book through this link, I’ll get a small referral fee which will be used to buy even more awesome books for review)

When manga are still too difficult and a rather frustrating experience, the Japanese graded readers packages are the perfect reading material to motivate you and finally give you the feeling that you can actually use your Japanese.

9 Usefullness
8 Fun-factor
10 Eye-candy-factor
8 Special Japanease Tease kudos
8.8
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  • Chris Shinyuu

    I just bought this Japanese Graded Reader Book 0 Vol 1 and 2 today. I just started learning Japanese like 5 months, and wanting to improve my listening. I listened to the 1st chapter CD and was trying to follow it, not too successfully, so i am wondering what is the most effective way to get the best out of this series of audio Japanese….

    • https://www.japanesetease.net/ JapaneseTease

      I’d suggest reading the story first and then listening to the recording while reading it again. It’s totally natural that you’re struggling with understanding spoken Japanese but it gets a lot better if you listen to it more frequently. Regarding this I can only recommend trying Japanesepod 101. Helped me a great deal in understanding more and more spoken Japanese and I’ll definitely come back to it once my schedule clears up a little.

  • John

    Heyya mate! I’m John(filipino btw) and i’m currently living and studying in Italy. I’m really into japanese culture, language, writing, watching drama and animes in japanese with english subtitle obviously. How does it feel to speak and write japanese? But I really wanna emphasize the writing here, is it the same as writing abc’s? I mean at the first glance of the word do you rapidly or in a twink of an eye understand what does the word says? ありがとございます^_^!

  • http://gaijingojapan.com/ Gaijin San

    I am making my way slowly through Genki while doing intensive vocabulary learning at Japanesepod101. I’m starting to think that some extra reading practice might be interesting. That might be worth a try! Thanks for the info!

    • https://www.japanesetease.net/ JapaneseTease

      The JGR packages are really great for beginners. Especially in the very early stages of learning Japanese it’s so hard to come by relatively easy reading material that you can manage. Just give these a try, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

  • GreenTeaLeaf

    After long time debating whether I should buy these books or not (they are pricey…), I bought them!
    The first level was entertaining and easy to read with just a few unknown characters. The second level was a little bit more difficult, and therefore more enjoyable. And now I am beginning to read the third level.
    These books are extremely helpful as a confidence booster especially during the plateau stage.
    I got motivation to continue my studying, try to read children’s books and manga. Now I am sure I am not giving up the last few years of studying Japanese. :)

    Thank you for the review!

  • GreenTeaLeaf

    After long time debating whether I should buy these books or not (they are pricey…), I bought them!
    The first level was entertaining and easy to read with just a few unknown characters. The second level was a little bit more difficult, and therefore more enjoyable. And now I am beginning to read the third level.
    These books are extremely helpful as a confidence booster especially during the plateau stage.
    I got motivation to continue my studying, try to read children’s books and manga. Now I am sure I am not giving up the last few years of studying Japanese. :)

    Thank you for the review!

    • https://www.japanesetease.net/ JapaneseTease

      Really glad that you enjoy the books so much. It’s awesome if you can finally understand the most part of what you’re reading and an extreme confidence booster, right. Thanks a lot for your thoughts about the graded readers series.

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  • MarioRash

    I really enjoy your blog. Your photos are fabulous, and give gorgeous insight to the books, helping to decide whether to buy them or not. All in all everything looks very minimalistic, which I like a lot, too.
    Keep it up! I subscribed, deactivated adblock on the site, and will always use your referal links.
    Cheers, Mario.

    • https://www.japanesetease.net/ JapaneseTease

      Thanks a lot for all your support Mario, that’s really really awesome. Thank you.
      I’ve been a little troubled lately but will hopefully be back with some new posts soon.

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  • Didier Gentilly

    At wich point in your studies do you recommend getting these books, and starting reading easy manga ?

    Is there a suggested order to learn japanese ?

    • https://www.japanesetease.net/ JapaneseTease

      Did you check my guide? https://www.japanesetease.net/how-i-learn-japanese-my-essentials/
      I hope this one explains how I would start learning Japanese if I had to begin from zero again.

      I personally find it very encouraging if you can actually use some of your newly learned things and put them tooth use you intended. In our case this is reading/speaking/listening to Japanese. The neat thing about the Japanese Graded Readers series is that it literally start with zero and can be enjoyed after a finishing the first couple of chapters from Genki I. Maybe even earlier. Not much text in the first one but it’s always a great excuse to get more involved in the language.

      If you have any more questions feel free to ask anytime and let me know how your studies are coming along.

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  • Lucy Whitehead

    Thanks so much for the review and photos – I have been wondering about buying the first reader but was put off by the price. They do seem worth it!

    • https://www.japanesetease.net/ JapaneseTease

      They definitely are. Which set are you planning to pick up?

      • Lucy Whitehead

        I’m just finishing Genki 1 so will probably start on 0 and work my way up.

  • Lee Yonghwa

    Thanks for a wonderful and detailed review. My Japanese friend gave me all the volumes of Japanese Graded readers as a gift hoping that it could help me gauge what have I learned so far before attempting to maybe take a JLPT exam in the future. I’m so excited now to be able to read it all by the time it arrives.

  • Tothok

    Hi
    1. you recommended a few manga to try out as first time reads, like Chi’s Sweet Home and the panda one, but also recommended Yotsuba as the first manga to try out. Which one should I really start with?

    2. Also if I was looking for a first time read of anything Japanese, should I try the mangas above first or graded readers? do you think Yotsuba To is difficult to start with without having something like graded readers first?

    3. If I went for the japanese graded readers , just wondering, do they really build on each other? eg. vocabulary of first books are used in later books (like the vegetable book) ? Are the Vol. 0 books worth it? it looks like a bunch of pictures with the names over them and not much reading. they are a bit pricey when converted to my currency so if the first couple volumes aren’t worth it I’m thinking maybe to go up a vol and start at 1? what is your opinion?

    I read your guide on how you studied Japanese but it didn’t really help me discern this issue.
    Thanks

    • https://www.japanesetease.net/ JapaneseTease

      You can start with the one that appeals to you the most. Just look at the pictures I made which hopefull give you a pretty decent first expression about what to expect.
      In the very beginning I would recommend the Japanese Graded Readers though. Tailored to a non-native audience and much more simple to grasp. Start with Vol.01, Zero is fun to look at but not really reading material.

      Let me know what you decided. Hope I could help.

  • Geekette

    I found Level 0 doable after Chapter 6 of Genki 1. I’m just finishing Genki 1 now, so I’ve got Level 1 ordered. I’m assuming that I can try level 2 about halfway through Genki 2, and then Level 3 at the end. Would that be accurate?

    • https://www.japanesetease.net/ JapaneseTease

      That’s a good approach. I think you’ll manage just fine.