What are the small letters next to kanji in manga?

Q: Hey i’ve been wondering for a while but when i look in a japanese manga,when you read what the character talks, etc theres always kanji, but when you look next to the kanji theres always tiny characters from hiragana or katakana and ive been wondering what exactly they mean. My theory was that people who didnt know kanji would still be able to read, but im starting to doubt that. If you could, can you explain it for me ?  – Ismael

A: Hi Ismael,  you were right on the money with your first answer!  They are the readings for the kanji, usually written in Hiragana and are called ふりがな furigana.

They are supposed to be there for kids who haven’t studied all the kanji yet.  But …. there are so many adults these days who can’t read even basic kanji that even manga for older readers often has them!

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