Japanese Graded Readers developed by NPO Tadoku Supporters

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MorkTheFiddle
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Japanese Graded Readers developed by NPO Tadoku Supporters

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:20 pm

Has anyone used, or is anyone at least familiar with, the Japanese Graded Readers produced by NPO Tadoku Supporters? Are they worth robbing banks to pay for them? The Amazon reviewers tend to rave about the series, but with reservations about price, particulary vis-à-vis the amount of content.

If so, do they have any prerequisites? Cheng-tsui suggests, "Japanese Graded Readers Level 0 is the perfect resource for learners who have mastered hiragana and katakana and are ready to move on to kanji!" But other sources seem to imply one can jump right in.

Anyone with experience in these readers?
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Re: Japanese Graded Readers developed by NPO Tadoku Supporters

Postby raikiro » Mon Jul 29, 2019 7:45 pm

I do have a little experience with these because my university library had all the volumes and our teachers encouraged us to read them. I'd say I read about a dozen each for levels 1 and 2 and a handful level 3's. Because I have never taken a look at the level 0 ones, I can't tell you how easy they are. So my 'review' is more for the intermediate levels, I'm not sure how accurate this is for level 0 specifically. Maybe you, or someone else who cares, can still make some use of my opinion though.

There is a noticeable increase in difficulty between levels 1 and 3, but within the same level some stories are a bit easier then others, at least in my experience. Noteworthy is that starting from level 3 (I believe) there are no more Furigana for Kanji that aren't too uncommon. If this is good or bad depends on the reader's preference.

I have taken a look at the costs: about 33€ per volume for me. Considering that there are several volumes for each level, buying the whole level will be expensive. One volume, if I remember correctly, consists of 3-4 stories, each with a couple of pages of text and many pictures (the text got more dense in higher levels, the lower levels only had a couple of sentences per page). I usually would read one entire volume in about 30-60 minutes, depending on if I chose a level to challenge myself or to just quickly read through it. For me personally, spending that much money for an hour's worth of reading material is not justified. Of course your reading speed might be different, but as soon as you have some basics it should not take too long. After all, they are supposed to be for enjoyable, extensive reading and not so much for deeper analysis.
Content-wise, you will be seeing mostly Japanese tales or similar well-known stories in simplified form. Rather entertaining, at times amusing or with an interesting plot twist, but I found them to be boring to re-read. I already knew what was going to happen, and did not care enough for the words I did not understand, as some of them are not really relevant. Just think of typical tales and which kind of vocabulary you'd expect - not necessarily something you need, especially as a beginner.
I do remember that there was some way to get the audio for all the texts - but I don't know if that was tied to my university or if you get it for free with the books.

I found them to be useful for one thing: to get into your first 'real' text that is not taken from a textbook. But honestly, for the high price and the low return, I would only recommend you to buy them if a.) you don't care re-reading them many times to be worth the money, or b.) if you are very interested in Japanese tales.
For 'normal' reading practice, I'm sure you will find better texts by looking around on the internet. You might not get the cute pictures or nice books to place on your shelf, but it will save you a lot of money. Of course you can always try to check if your local library has some of them, or look if you can find a version online to get a better impression. Or maybe, if you can justify it, order one volume and see if you like it. You can always buy more in the future if you feel like it is worth your money.
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Re: Japanese Graded Readers developed by NPO Tadoku Supporters

Postby devilyoudont » Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:56 pm

I picked up a set of level 4 books out of curiosity. I agree with raikiro broadly speaking. The books are very beautifully done, but I am unlikely to re-read any. To me, this means that the added cost of the CDs and the beautiful full color images is somewhat wasted. I kind of prefer the books I have gotten from Aoi Tori Bunko (Japanese children's chapter book publisher), even tho all of those are uniformly more difficult than these graded readers.
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Re: Japanese Graded Readers developed by NPO Tadoku Supporters

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:21 pm

Thank you for the detailed overview. You make a good case for not buying the full set. My library carries none of the sets, so I ordered one set of Level 0 this afternoon. The cost was slightly less than $40 US.
The term "tadoku" of course has a different meaning on this forum than it does in the field of learning Japonese. Here it is a challenge in extensive reading, while in Japanese studies it seems to mean a detailed and planned course of reading from the very beginning up through fluency, and with never a need to look at a dictionary. Would that every language had a structured plan listing works and audio going from bottom to top. In languages with enough resources, like both Japanese and English, each level of reading and listening would have a multitude of resources appealing to a variety of tastes and interests.
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Re: Japanese Graded Readers developed by NPO Tadoku Supporters

Postby tuckamore » Tue Jul 30, 2019 4:05 pm

I second what raikiro and devilyoudont wrote. I used a couple of the level 1 and 2 series. They were great and they worked as promised. But, I wouldn’t argue with anyone who questions whether they are worth the money. I think they could be most beneficial if you had access to lots of them like raikiro. For example, it would be great if there was something like the original subscription-rental Netflix model for Japanese graded readers. Instead of renting physical DVDs thru the mail, you got graded readers delivered to your door every week.

In case you are interested in previewing other Japanese graded readers, I recommend taking a look at https://omgjapan.com/collections/japane ... uage-books. They have decent previews (like the ‘look inside’ feature of Amazon) of most (all?) of their offerings. Look on the left for the ‘graded reader’ selector. I’m not sure how much detail you can see on Amazon with these readers specifically. But, in general, the preview feature for books published in Japan on Amazon can be quite limited, if available at all.

FYI, http://www.omgjapan.com used to be http://www.whiterabbitpress.com. But, a bit ago (2-3 years ago?), the whiterabbitpress.com website was rebranded to be specifically for their own products, which includes some app based graded readers. I have no experience with these graded readers, but thought I’d mention that it exists.
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MorkTheFiddle
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Re: Japanese Graded Readers developed by NPO Tadoku Supporters

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:23 pm

tuckamore wrote:I second what raikiro and devilyoudont wrote. I used a couple of the level 1 and 2 series. They were great and they worked as promised. But, I wouldn’t argue with anyone who questions whether they are worth the money. I think they could be most beneficial if you had access to lots of them like raikiro. For example, it would be great if there was something like the original subscription-rental Netflix model for Japanese graded readers. Instead of renting physical DVDs thru the mail, you got graded readers delivered to your door every week.

In case you are interested in previewing other Japanese graded readers, I recommend taking a look at https://omgjapan.com/collections/japane ... uage-books. They have decent previews (like the ‘look inside’ feature of Amazon) of most (all?) of their offerings. Look on the left for the ‘graded reader’ selector. I’m not sure how much detail you can see on Amazon with these readers specifically. But, in general, the preview feature for books published in Japan on Amazon can be quite limited, if available at all.

FYI, http://www.omgjapan.com used to be http://www.whiterabbitpress.com. But, a bit ago (2-3 years ago?), the whiterabbitpress.com website was rebranded to be specifically for their own products, which includes some app based graded readers. I have no experience with these graded readers, but thought I’d mention that it exists.

Thank you for the additional information. I remember the old Netflix rental model, and in fact signed up for it for awhile, and I agree it would be very helpful for studying the graded readers.
The views shown on the omgjapan site give me enough of an idea of the content of the books. I'll just have to sit down and pore through them to find something I like.
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Re: Japanese Graded Readers developed by NPO Tadoku Supporters

Postby seito » Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:24 pm

The stories in the app appear to be cheaper and there's no shipping there. So that might be an option.
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