Oka Tadoku Room

November 17, 2021

The U-M Asia Library will soon open the Oka Tadoku Room, a dedicated space for the practice of tadoku, or “extensive reading,” a method of language learning that relies on reading a large volume of varied materials.

The materials used for tadoku include illustrated books, photography collections, manga, essay collections, and best-selling novels. 

Tadoku first came into use in Japanese language teaching in the early 2000s, according to Mayumi Oka. “It has benefits that go beyond increasing reading proficiency, including extended understanding and absorption of knowledge of the culture,” said Oka, former director of the Japanese Language Program and former head lecturer of Japanese Pedagogy at the University of Michigan. The new reading room was funded by Oka and her husband, Masao.

Bringing the tadoku materials front and center will expand Asia Library’s mission beyond its focus on academic materials in East Asian languages that are principally used by graduate students and faculty, according to Asia Library Director Dawn Lawson. 

“We are delighted to provide a space dedicated to the practice of tadoku,” Lawson said. “This will introduce undergraduates to Asia Library and its rich collections at an earlier point in their academic career and, we hope, inspire them to develop mastery of the language and a deeper understanding of the culture.”

She added that the space will also be available to other Asian language classes and relevant student organizations.

Connecting cultures was a driving force behind the creation of the space, Oka says.

“The keyword 'connection' was always at the forefront of my mind as I planned the room, and by that I mean not only connections with the U-M campus community but with the broader community as well. Because tadoku includes the use of non-traditional materials such as illustrated books and books aimed at primary and secondary school students, we would also welcome use of the room by students of Japanese language schools in the area, who may not have an opportunity to interact with a large number of print materials from Japan, ”Oka said. 

The Asia Library Reading Room, which is on the fourth floor of Hatcher North, is closed for renovations. If you need help with East Asian language materials, contact asialibrary@umich.edu.

The Oka Tadoku Room will open in 2022.


by Alan Piñon

Rendering of the Oka Tadoku Room in the Asia Library.


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