My student in basic class asked me whether there are any Japanese books that she can read by herself. She wants to try to read Japanese books, but normal Japanese books are too difficult, and textbook is not enough interesting for her (I totally agree!)
I recommended 'Japanese graded reader ' for her. They are written in easy and controlled language for foreign or second language learners of Japanese. They are graded according to the size of vocabulary, complexity of grammar structures and the total number of words used in each book. They are designed to cater to all levels from beginners to advanced students.
For most language learners, reading Japanese books has been a daunting task. There are many unknown words, kanji and expressions beyond their level or understanding. Japanese graded reader have changed all that so now students can enjoy reading without having to constantly stop and look up unknown kanji, words or phrases in the dictionary. Research has also shown that students who read in Japanese improve their Japanese in other area of the language at a faster rate than students who don't read.
And I encourage you not to reach for a dictionary while reading Japanese Graded Readers. Try to skip words and phrases that you don't understand and simply keep on reading. Their meanings will become apparent eventually from the context and illustrations. Finally, if the going gets tough, simply stop reading and try a different one. Don't try too hard to finish! If you do, you might begin to hate reading in Japanese.