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As several other questions already mentioned, graded readers are a good resources for extensive reading, at least for people who are not yet sufficiently proficient to read texts written for native speakers of the target language.

For languages that don't use an alphabet, and especially in language where the writing system does not suggest a specific pronunciation, e.g. Japanese kanji, graded readers may even be more useful as a bridge than for alphabetic languages. So are there any graded readers for Japanese?

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The Japanese Graded Readers published by White Rabbit Japan are available in 5 levels:

  • level 0 corresponds to JLPT N5 (500 字 per story; 350 new words);
  • level 1 corresponds to JLPT N4-5 (400 - 1.500 字 per story; 350 new words);
  • level 2 corresponds to JLPT N4 (1.500 - 2.500 字 per story; 500 new words);
  • level 3 corresponds to JLPT N3-4 (2.500 - 5.000 字 per story; 800 new words);
  • level 4 corresponds to JLPT N3-2 (5.000 - 10.000 字 per story; 1300 new words).

The books contain illustrations and the come with a CD with a professionally narrated recording of the story, so you can also learn proper pronunciation. At level 4, all the kanji still have furigana.

There are countless reviews of this series on the web, for example on JapaneseTease, Lina's Extensive Reading Journal, Japantics' Hubpages, and in many YouTube videos.

For more examples of Japanese reading materials, you can go to the The Hon Repository. This is a website with an associated YouTube channel that helps you find Japanes books that are appropriate for you level. The YouTube videos are typically "level checks" that show a number of pages from a book so you can see for yourself whether the book being shown corresponds to the level you are looking for.

The Japanese Graded Readers by White Rabbit contain only Japanese text, no translations. For a different approach, see Short Stories in Japanese: New Penguin Parallel Text editedy by Michael Emmerich (Penguin, 2011). This book contains 8 stories by authors that include Haruki Murakami. The stories are printed with an English translation on the facing page. Furigana is provided only for the first occurrence of a kanji in a story. There is also a section with endnotes that explain references and other cultural aspects that may not be obvious to a Western reader.

Bonus link: So you've read all the Japanese Graded Readers ....

Update:

  • The Cheng & Tsui website lists Japanese graded readers for five different levels (the same levels as for the graded readers from White Rabbit Japan).

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