At the beginning of language acquisition, you may be worrying if you are already at a point where you are ready to read in Japanese. But don’t worry! There are many resources that use pictures and repetition to help inexperienced learners follow the story.
Reading simple stories will help you recognizing the characters and familiarize you with Japanese expressions. If a text is too difficult or boring, just pick the next one!
Learning Hiragana & Katakana
These 45 short books by the Japan Foundation are great to study hiragana, as only 1-2 characters per story are introduced. The series is continued with 9 more books that introduce katakana.
Hiragana Books Volume 1
Hiragana Books Volume 2
Hiragana Books Volume 3
Hiragana Books Volume 4
Hiragana Books Volume 5
Simple Stories with reading level
Many sites use the reading levels as defined by the NPO Tagengo Tadoku. For those studying for the JLPT N5 the appropiate levels are level 0 and level 1. That means you should be able to confidently read hiragana and know very basic grammar such as particle funtions and present and past verb forms.
- Tadoku Free Graded Readers – fiction and non-fiction, downloadable pdfs, audio
- YomuJP (Nihongo Tadoku Dōjō) – non-fiction, read in browser, audio
- Sakura Tadoku Lab – registration required, fiction
- Japan Foundation Kansai – fiction and non-fiction, some audio options
- Nihongo Tokuhon Level 0 – fiction and non-fiction, downloadable pdfs
- Nihongo Tokuhon Level 1 – fiction and non-fiction, downloadable pdfs
- Yomimono Ippai Level 1 – fiction and non-fiction, some stories easier than others
- Dr. Dru’s Lab – Stories – project to help learning vocabulary through reading
- NHK Japanese lessons – dialog & cultural info in easy Japanese, video, downloadable pdf
- Smith College Tadoku Project – stories written by learners
- Malaysia Books Tadoku Project – stories written by learners
- Tadoku Unri – stories written by learners
- Mongolia Nihongo Tadoku Library – stories written by learners
- Nihongoschool Nihongoblog – blog by a Japanese teacher in the UK
- WatanoC (わたのしい) – web magazine, look for articles with N5 tag