One of the wonderful things about the school I'm teaching at, is that they accept ELLs up to Grade 6 at any level of English. It is also one of the challenging things. It impacts me slightly as I try to help them with making choices for reading books each week, somewhat more when I'm teaching a unit for example Information literacy to prepare G6 students for their PYP exhibition and I see that a few students in each class just cannot engage with the lesson as it is moving too fast and at a too high level for their comprehension. It impacts our teacher a LOT all the time. And out of all the challenges and considerations that keep my brain buzzing overtime, this is one that concerns me the most.
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I'm looking to order some books for classroom libraries and the main school library, so I reached out to my networks asking for books for pleasure that would be suitable for our ELL students. I also did internet searches for ELL suitable books, books for reluctant readers (even though they often are NOT reluctant readers).
I would very much like to distinguish between reading to learn to read and reading for pleasure, because I believe (and research appears to back me up) but it is the pleasure and interest reading that will take my students both into the next level of reading and also help them to create, maintain and sustain a love of reading. Yes I know there is a plethora of resources for teaching reading to ELL students and that English as a language is richly blessed with a wide variety of graded readers. But that's not what I'm looking for. I want books that they will WANT to read for the sake of the content or story or character. Not because it's level D or 14 or 2.7. (Here is a great article with good resources on motivating ELL student readers).
It would also be very nice when all the students are reading literature circle books that there are also books available to ELL students to read. Of course if you have two or three ELL students who share a language, there's no reason why they shouldn't read a book at the appropriate level in that language - however it does lead to some complications for teachers interacting with them if the book isn't also available in English.
Here are a few of the suggestions / ideas:
- The Worst Witch (Jill Murphy)
- Junie B Jones and Nate the Great
- Some more suggestions of series that can get students hooked
- Roald Dahl is always an excellent choice for EAL students as they are at varying levels of difficulty - here are some resources for ELL teachers.
- Scholastic My Story books (historical fiction)
- Geronimo Stilton and Diary of a Wimpy Kid
- Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon
- Cheesie Mack by Steve Cotler
- Little Gems Series
- My First Graphic Novels Series
- My Weird School series by Dan Gutman
- The Time Warp Trio, Frank Einstein series by Jon Scieszka
- Dragon Slayer's Academy series by Kate McMullan (available in 24 languages)
- Secrets of Droon series by Tony Abbot
- Space Scout - H. Badger, Diary of a Soccer Star (and other Diary of a... books), Boy vs. Beast, Zac Power
- Great comics for early readers
- Graphic novels for grades 1-4 from the University of Maryland
- Aussie nibbles, chomps and bites (and I've just seen they have books at a lower level called "Solos" and "Mates" although I'd be worried they were "too Australian" - but on the other hand the rest of our literature is often "too American" or "too British")
- Magic Tree House - I've reluctantly added this, and deliberately put it last as I think there is an over-reliance on nonfiction type books and MTH in particular for our ELL students. Some of them love it, some hate it, the advantage is they've been translated into every imaginable language so many of our students have the series in their mother tongue and they can "parallel read" the text.
A few of the books in my catalog that I and our ELL department recommend to parents and teachers including wordless books. Here are some suggestions for using wordless books. They are also useful for the interlingual classroom as Eithne Gallagher suggests.
Graphic novels and comics are a great bridge for ELL students, although this article deals with use in High School, the principles can be transferred to Primary (see "great comics for early readers" above).
And don't forget AudioBooks - some great resources have just been released including a very good infographic on using listening by the Audio Publishers Association. I attribute my childrens' large vocabulary and working knowledge and love of the classics, including poetry to Naxos' Spoken Word library and CDs.
Accessing lessons and other material
Up to now, all I've been doing is ensuring that the Information Literacy classes I do are also on my libguides with all videos and links so that students can access them in their own time and go through them at their own pace at home or revisit them as and when needed. It would be helpful to have resources in multiple languages - UNESCO has such a guide with resources in many languages. The challenge would be to access and use these as appropriate in our environment.
Any comments or suggestions? When I have time I'd like to try and "level" this list but I need to start reading some course work for my next M Ed. study unit.