Have you ever read manga?
What about reading manga in Japanese?
Although reading anything in Japanese can be a daunting task, the good news is, there is no shame in reading books that include furigana* next to kanji. Some may think reading materials that include furigana are A) intended for children or young audiences only and B) cause the reader to rely too heavily on the assistance provided by the furigana, but these are incorrect assumptions. Similar to the appeal of anime or now, Pokemon GO, most manga are designed to appeal to a variety of audiences. Moreover, the furigana pushes readers to start remembering kanji readings to the point where furigana almost magically appear next to kanji when encountered in other contexts.
The presence of furigana also encourages confidence because it is common to start a series and stop part-way out of frustration at the amount of time it can take to read through a few pages. Oftentimes, the kanji are ones that the reader learned at one point but cannot remember in that moment. With the modern convenience of cellphone dictionaries, it is easy to search the provided furigana readings and then save the kanji to review later**.
In addition to building up vocabulary, manga is also useful because it teaches you HOW people actually speak in formal and casual situations. Reading out loud character interactions will help ingrain speech patterns so when actually in a conversation, it will flow more naturally. Start reading manga today!
*furigana are the small hiragana characters next to kanji (Chinese characters) that assist with reading comprehension.
**A good free dictionary for Android phones is ‘JED’ and for iPhone, try ‘imiwa?’.