Book Review, N3, Non-Fiction

[N3] ほんとうにあったお話 1年生

At the start of each day, many schools in Japan have a time slot, in which students can freely read their own books. Today’s recommendation is a book for first graders and intended to be read during this reading time.

The short stories in here are – as the title suggests – based on true events and on stories that have been in the news. It’s great to learn something new and intended to start conversations. I learned something about the origin of school food or waffle ice cream.

Other stories were more feel-good stories, e.g. about a baby polar bear or a goat in the library. I appreciated that for some stories, there was additional information as well, e.g. after the baby polar bear story there was also a one-page article on baby pandas.

Since the book was written for first graders, sentence structure and grammar are very simple. There aren’t many kanji, but thankfully spaces were added to navigate all the hiragana. Because of the different topics in each story, you will encounter new vocabulary from a variety of interesting social and cultural areas.

There are up to 12 stories per book and each volume is named after the elementary school year it’s recommended for (year 1-6). Characters get smaller with each volume, sentences get longer and kanji gradually replace the hiragana.

However, since the difficulty for language learners with these books is not the amount of kanji used, but the variety of vocabulary and grammar structures, with N3 abilities you can try any book in this series to advance your reading speed and expand your vocabulary.

The publisher, Kōdansha, provides two full stories per volume (12 in total!) completely for free as a reading sample on their website.

The full versions can be purchased through Amazon Japan:

Length (book 1): 159 pages

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