One of the main reasons for applying for a library card was that I wanted to read Japanese books. I am a very visual person, my preferred approach to learning is by making lists, writing down all the grammar points from the books again, and reading – lots of reading. For me, this is also a way to make learning vocabulary more fun; although I have to admit that by now I don’t look up every single word I come across – as long as I get the gist of the text, and the unknown word does not keep reappearing (in which case I assume that it is important and I look it up after all).
So, I went to the library and borrowed a children’s book in Japanese. The pros are obvious: Easy language and words comprising short sentences, all written in hiragana – and even with spaces between the words! And there are often many cute illustrations to help understanding. If you go that way though, the cons are obvious too: Children’s stories are not meant to teach vocabulary – the kids know what the words mean; so the beginning student of Japanese may find herself with a huge list of vocabulary that may not be immediately useful beyond the book – vocabulary for animals or household things,… For example, how often do you use the word “vase” in your daily life? Hence, a lot of the reading consists of looking up words, which can prove rather tedious. Also, the hiragana sometimes causes more problems than it should. When looking up words, it can happen that you get a very long list of possible translations – and not all can be dismissed immediately. Sometimes it would be much easier just to have the kanji there, to make it easier to find the right meaning – and, of course, to study them as well while reading.
Oh well, I remember I started reading English just like this, albeit with the benefit of a shared alphabet. I hope I will graduate to books for older children soon – which should have some kanji with furigana. And probably more interesting stories too…
Try also the “Comics”, there are of all kind for kids, politics, sexy, ….
You mean the Manga? There are soo many out there, it’s amazing – maybe even a sexy one for women… 😉