Let's read! This guide is very definitely a work in progress, but I am happy to share it with you. It is part of my sabbatical project to identify and provide access to reading materials in the library for Japanese language learners at all levels. This was one of the reasons that I became a librarian, and it has taken me 20 years to get to the point where I now this it is entirely possible to do.
It has been very hard to make the transition from textbook to reading books for research and leisure in Japanese. Our academic library collections are "academic" and are generally beyond the grasp of undergraduates and even some master's students. When students come to us with a project, such as "selecting a short story to translate" they panic when they see big collections like 現代日本文学大系 or 昭和文学全集. And that is entirely understandable. For the first 3 years of their Japanese language education, most students are provided hand-selected reading selections by their language instructors. Often they are newspaper clippings or articles from AERA or some other magazine, but without citations, and eventually students are expected to be able to locate their own reading materials without any assistance. But, it isn't that simple... and students waste hours trying to track down articles/stories and then even more hours trying to read them. The frustration that they feel can affect their desire to read in Japanese and they may give it up entirely once they graduate.
So, let's make it easy and enjoyable. This guide is a small part of what will eventually be a much bigger project of combining information literacy, extensive reading, and language learning. In this guide I am focussing on identifying publishers' series that will help students to read interesting materials at an appropriate level.
W.E.B. Du Bois Library
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003-9275
Sharon Domier has a B.A in East Asian Studies and an M.L.I.S from the University of Alberta. She also has a master's degree from the University of Library and Information Science in Japan.