I recently came across an archive of free readers that I’ve never seen before, created by the Japan Foundation. They are quite basic and each one is very short, so they are good for beginners of Japanese. These aren’t as good as some of the ones that you can buy, but you can’t beat free. There are about 25 of them and they are licensed under creative commons.
Recently while browsing around for YouTube channels aimed at Japanese kids, I discovered an entire genre of videos that I didn’t even know existed. There are numerous channels where people are creating original stories and scenarios using dolls and other toys. As these are typically aimed at children, the stories are fairly basic, and the language is usually quite easy and straightforward. The animation and visuals also help a lot with understanding what is going on.
Here are a few of the channels that I have come across. There are plenty of other channels like these out there, but these seem to be among the best, from what I’ve seen.
The videos on this channel are fast paced, wacky and quite well-made. There are hundreds of videos here. The only potential downside is that the fast pace may make them a bit more difficult to follow the dialogue. I think this is a good channel to leave playing in the background, because it has constant talking with no pauses.
Animehouse has over 1000 videos available, but most of them aren’t terribly interesting, in my opinion. They do use a wide variety of characters though.
Cocoa channel features short stories that are about 8 minutes in length, usually followed by a drawing tutorial that is about the same length. I do wish the voice acting could be a bit better, as it sounds like the actress is afraid to actually raise her voice. Hundreds of videos here.
Afro-Oneesan also serves up some wacky and fast-paced videos. There are a couple hundred videos here at the moment.