Skip to Main Content

Tadoku - Extensive Reading for Japanese as a Second Language (JSL) Learners: Tadoku Overview

The Tadoku guide provides a brief definition of tadoku, links to tadoku publishers, and references to related academic research.

Tadoku (多読), What Is It?

Also known as "extensive reading," tadoku is a Japanese as a Second Language (JSL) study practice emphasizing reading as many books as possible at the student's current comprehension level. Tadoku is based on a language acquisition model that assumes the more a language learner reads the better the resulting language skills. Tadoku, therefore, encourages JSL students to read many books that incorporate vocabulary and characters already known to the student. To facilitate reading volume, tadoku supporters recommend use of graded readers that allow students to quickly select appropriate books. If a particular book is too difficult or uninteresting, the student is urged to put the book aside and choose another one that better suits the student’s reading level or interests. To keep reading fun, the tadoku method also recommends that instructors avoid evaluation of performance or progress.

Tadoku Book Images

Tadoku Sample Book Cover Level 1: Hachiko

Hachiko No Hanashi

tadoku Japanese book cover Ojyarumaru


Tadoku Sample Book Cover Level 2: Ikkyu-san So No 2

Ikkyu-san #2

Tadoku Japanese book cover Japanese Myths

Nihon Shinwa Shu

Tadoku Book Cover Sample: Level 2 An Elephant Named Tonki

Zou No Tonki

Tadoku Tonari no Totoro

Tonari no Totoro

Tadoku Book cover sample: Level 3 Aladdin and the Magic Lamp

Aladdin To Mahou No Ranpu

cover of Japanese book Ultraman Taro

Ultraman Taro

Tadoku Book sample cover: Level 4 Sumo


book cover of Japanese book Tetsua Atom -Astro Boy

Astro Boy

Tadoku Sample Book Cover: Level 4 Snow Woman

Yuki Onna

Japanese book cover Ryuu no ko Taro

Tatsunoko Taro

Blogs Discussing Tadoku

Sharon Domier Blog (English only)

"[M]usings about East Asian studies librarianship, research using Japanese and Chinese language resources, and fabulous new finds on the Internet" by Ms. Domier.


Sharon Domier is [an] East Asian Studies Librarian who divides her time between Smith College, Amherst College, and the University of Massachusetts. She is the point person for all library services that require East Asian language skills.

-- Smith College Staff Directory.


Publishers of Tadoku Graded Readers

NPO Tadoku (NPO多言語多読) (日本語English)

NPO Tadoku is a non-profit, membership organization that sells books, CDs, other materials, and classes for second language learners of English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Spanish.


Ask Books (アスク出版) (日本語/English Combined)

Ask Books publishes a series of graded readers for students of Japanese in sets of 5-6 books.


Taishukan Japanese Readers (大修館にほんご多読ブックス) (日本語, English)

Taishukan Publishing Co.,Ltd. specializes in educational materials including textbooks and dictionaries primarily for the Japanese educational market. They have recently added tadoku books in cooperation with NPO Tadoku. Taishukan's offers a set of books at each of NPO Tadoku's six prescribed levels plus sets with additional books for beginning levels. Each book includes a code at the back that can be used to access online audio renditions of the book so students can listen to the book being read as they read.


Nihongo Tadoku Kenkyukai (日本語多読研究会) (日本語English) Web archive

Nihongo Tadoku Kenkyukai is a discontinued association for the promotion of tadoku books. Materials developed through the Kenkyukai are sold through Ask Books.

Tadoku LibGuides and Directories

Extensive Reading (Tadoku) Databases (English only)

Jeff Peterson at Brigham Young University (BYU) oversees a project that compiles detailed information on tadoku materials, including level of difficulty and number of characters in each book. The list is downloadable as a pdf and is designed for use by teachers, students, and researchers of tadoku.


UCLA Tadoku Libguide (Engish and Japanese)

The web site for the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Library includes listings and samples of tadoku books and magazines available in the library collection. The materials are sorted by reading difficulty and the lists include cover art as well as titles in Japanese. The page also provides links to information events in 2015 and 2018 that featured tadoku and to a video discussing Japanese language reading and writing systems.


UMass Graded Reader LibGuide (English only)

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, W.E.B Du Bois Library's East Asian Collection includes a set of graded readers published by NPO Tadoku (see box). The LibGuide describes the concept of graded reading, the books in the Japanese graded reader collection, and the location of the books in the library.

What is Tadoku Teaching? 多読授業とは?(Part 1)

Support NCC

If you found this page useful, please consider supporting NCC's work with a small contribution.

Limited Bibliography on Tadoku

Aka, N. (2019). Reading performance of Japanese high school learners following a one-year extensive reading program. Reading in a Foreign Language, 31(1), 1–18.

Abstract: The present study investigates the effects of extensive reading on developing the language knowledge and reading abilities of high school learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) over the course of one school year. Participants were divided into control (n = 205) and experimental groups (n = 200), with the former receiving regular grammar instruction and the latter receiving extensive reading instruction. Pre- and post tests consisting of a grammar and vocabulary section and a reading section were conducted to test the effects of the extensive reading program. The study further divided the participants into three proficiency groups. The results showed that the scores of the middle- and lower-proficiency groups increased dramatically compared to the higher-proficiency group. These findings suggest that the participants activated the knowledge they had learned in junior high school through the one-year extensive reading course, resulting in the improvement of their language knowledge and reading abilities.


de Burgh-Hirabe, Ryoko and Feryok, A. (2013). A model of motivation for extensive reading in Japanese as a foreign language. Reading in a Foreign Language, 25(1), 72–93.

Abstract: Numerous studies have reported that extensive reading (ER) has a positive influence on affect. Recent studies suggest that motivation for ER changes. This is in line with recent developments in second language (L2) motivation research that have highlighted the complex and dynamic nature of L2 motivation. This study presents a model of complex and dynamic motivation for ER. This qualitative study examined 9 Japanese as a foreign language learners' motivation for ER. The participants were encouraged to read as many Japanese books as possible outside class for 5 to 7 months. Data from interviews and journal entries were analyzed for factors influencing their motivation. The participants' motivation changed as different factors interacted, leading to different patterns of engagement with ER, which fit within the model. This suggests the value of using a complex and dynamic approach to L2 extensive reading motivation. Implications concern the importance of varied materials and of making ER obligatory.


Peterson, J. (2019). The effects of extensive reading on reading rate among intermediate-level learners of Japanese as a foreign language (Pending Publication, Doctoral dissertation, Purdue University). Retrieved from

Abstract: Research into the effects of extensive reading (ER) in second language acquisition has surged over the past few decades. Many studies report several benefits that come from engaging in ER, including reading rate gains. However, these studies almost exclusively focus on English language learners and tend to be limited by their lack of control over how the ER treatment is conducted. Furthermore, experimental and quantitative studies that investigate the possible effects of ER on the reading skills of learners of Japanese have yet to be fully explored. The goal of this study was to investigate the possible effects of ER on the reading rate development of learners of Japanese as a foreign language. This study also aimed to examine the level of comprehension learners were able to maintain as their reading rates increased as well as the feasibility of a 12,000 character (7,200 standard word) per week reading goal. Finally, this study also surveyed learner perceptions of ER. Using a quantitative single-case experiment design, eight intermediate-level learners of Japanese were monitored engaging in ER following strict adherence to ER principles over two and a half to four months. Longitudinal reading rate data as well as reading comprehension, ER, and survey data were collected over the course of the study. Results showed that participants’ reading rates increased significantly following the ER treatment. Furthermore, participants’ comprehension abilities were not hampered by an increase in their reading rates. Results also indicate that a weekly reading goal of 12,000 characters is likely feasible for intermediate-level learners. Finally, it was found that participants had overwhelmingly positive attitudes towards ER. This study provides evidence that ER has the potential to provide a highly enjoyable activity while substantially increasing learner reading rates without hindering comprehension.


Koyama, Nobuko. (2016). Emergence of Critical Reading in L2 Literature Seminars: Applications of Discourse Analysis in Language Pedagogy. Japanese Language and Literature 50 (1): 1-24. 

Abstract: The present study qualitatively examines how JSL (Japanese as a Second Language) students developed critical reading skills in their approach to authentic literary texts by using the three task-loaded roles of Historian, Passage Master, and Character Decipherer. A critical reading of literature is understood as being the equivalent of recognizing a multiplicity of interpretations, or "reading between the lines." This entails background assumptions and knowledge such as schemas, which are our mental constructs and cultural preconceptions, relevant to all aspects of our lives. However, L2 readers are not well-enough equipped with the schemas that would facilitate their understanding of authentic texts. To compensate for this disadvantage, certain aspects of discourse analysis can be used as tools "to negotiate their interaction with texts" (Olshtain and Celce-Murcia 2001: 718). This study shows how the three above-mentioned roles were implemented as discourse analysis tools for JSL, more generally L2 readers. Specifically, it shows how the readers were able to delve into story construal without any prior knowledge that might help their critical understanding. The findings suggest that certain aspects of discourse analysis can, through careful adaptation, meet the needs and interests of L2 readers in the classroom.

Nakano, Teiko. 2016. Extensive Reading for Second Language Learners of Japanese in Higher Education: Graded Readers and Beyond. Reading Matrix: An International Online Journal 16 (1): 119-132. 


Sato, Shinji, Atsushi Hasegawa, Yuri Kumagai, and Uichi Kamiyoshi. 2017. Content-Based Instruction (CBI) for the Social Future: A Recommendation for Critical Content-Based Language Instruction (CCBI). L2 Journal 9 (3): 50-69. 

Abstract: In this article, we seek to reconceptualize content-based instruction (CBI) curricula and practices from a critical perspective. Further, we propose developing criticality as an essential component of CBI, advocating for an approach we call critical content-based instruction (CCBI). While the importance of CBI has long been recognized, previous discussions predominantly focused on its effectiveness for language learning (and content learning to a lesser degree), and overlooked its fundamental linkage and relevance to broader educational missions. In order to fully maximize the potential of CBI and envision language education as integral to the advancement of society, we argue that a critical approach to CBI should be considered. First, we lay out how CBI came to be and how it has been treated in language pedagogy. We believe CBI is indeed a suitable forum for introducing and implementing a critical perspective because of its original contribution of broadening language education to meet societal needs. Second, we provide an overview of recent discourse surrounding world language education. Based on these reviews, we lastly and most importantly delineate directions for CCBI by presenting examples and possible challenges.

Tabata-Sandom, Mitsue. 2017. L2 Japanese Learners' Responses to Translation, Speed Reading, and "Pleasure Reading" as a Form of Extensive Reading. Reading in a Foreign Language 29 (1): 113-132. 

Abstract: Fluency development instruction lacks in reading in Japanese as a foreign language instruction. This study examined how 34 upper-intermediate level learners of Japanese responded when they first experienced pleasure reading and speed reading. The participants also engaged in intensive reading, the main component of which was translation. Survey results indicated that the two novel approaches were more welcomed than translation. There was a positive correlation between the participants' favorable ratings of pleasure reading and speed reading. The participants exhibited flexibility toward the two novel approaches in that they were willing to be meaningfully engaged in pleasure reading, whereas they put complete understanding before fluent reading when speed reading. The latter phenomenon may be explained by their predominantly-accuracy- oriented attitudes, fostered by long-term exposure to the grammar-translation method. The study's results imply that key to successful fluency development is an early start that nurtures well-rounded attitudes toward the target language reading.

Tabata-Sandom, Mitsue. 2013. The Reader-Text-Writer Interaction: L2 Japanese Learners' Response Toward Graded Readers. Reading in a Foreign Language 25 (2): 264-282. 

Abstract: This paper reports on two projects which investigated graded readers (GRs) as meaningful input for learners of Japanese as a foreign language (JFL). Project One examined the intentions of six writers of Japanese GRs. A focus group interview demonstrated that the writers had a genuine communicative intent in the writing process. Project Two investigated how fourteen learners of JFL responded to the GRs produced by these writers. Most participants welcomed lexical simplification in the GRs and their think-aloud protocols indicated that they experienced an effortless reading process with the GRs. This implies that GRs can be productive reading materials for JFL reading fluency development. In the affective domain, the less proficient participants tended to react favourably to the writers' communicative intent, whereas advanced participants demonstrated negative perceptions toward reading the GRs. The paper argues that the potential of GRs as meaningful input for learners of JFL is maximized when their efficacy is explicitly taught.


North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources
Copyright 2017
Contact the Webmaster