Student Readers

Short "graded" English books, for students of all ages and all levels.

Graded student Readers

Reading is a great way to improve your English. If you have the right book, you can learn English in the same way you learned your own language – rapidly, naturally, for fun, and without hard work.

The right book is one that interests you, and that you can read without a dictionary.

So, you like to read, but you find ordinary English books too difficult? "Graded Readers" are one possible solution.

Readers are usually simplified versions of real books. The vocabulary and grammar in each book is very carefully selected ("graded") for students at every level from Beginner (CEFR 0) to Advanced (CEFR C1).


What's good about Readers?

Readers are excellent things to have in a public library or a school library. Teachers like them, and a good language school often has fifty or a hundred.

  • Readers are shorter and easier than real books.
  • They use simple standard English (not technical, descriptive, regional or archaic English).
  • They have interesting text for students at Beginner, Elementary and Pre-Intermediate levels (CEFR 0, A1, A2).
  • Some Readers have an audio CD, so you can listen and read.
What's not good about Readers?

I don't ask individual students to buy Readers for personal use.

  • They're often expensive (from 7 to 15 euros for a very short book).
  • There is a gap between Readers and ordinary books.
  • No magic. If you write a book to a formula (for example "1000 headwords, 4 tenses, no passive voice") it will never have the magic of a real book.
How to use graded Readers

Teachers often use a Reader as the theme for an English lesson. There are lots of ways to do this, and every teacher has his or her techniques.

A student can also use a graded Reader without a teacher. Let's say that your normal reading level in English is B2 / Upper Intermediate. If you want to do some hard work, choose a B2 book. If you want to relax and get a natural understanding of the English language, choose a book which is one or two levels below your real ability. For example, try a B1 / Intermediate Reader, or even A2 / Pre-Intermediate.

Publishers of Readers don't use standard English levels. The table shows some approximate equivalents for Penguin, OUP and Macmillan.

Levels for English Readers

The Reader revolution
" There's nothing like a good book! " - Nicholas of Linguetic

I love reading. If I really like a book, I often read it again a year later, and maybe again after five years. Nobody wants to read a Macmillan or Penguin Reader or an Oxford Bookworm more than once, because they don't have that magic.

When I talk to my intermediate (CEFR B1) students, they understand me because I grade my English. In other words, I speak more slowly, I use simpler vocabulary and grammar, and I don't use idioms. The students don't understand every word, but that's not necessary. I'm now using the same method to write my own series of graded Readers. Why? Because I want to keep more of the magic of the original. Simplified, but not too simplified. Kipling, HG Wells, Virginia Woolf, Gogol, Saki, MR James, Captain Marryat, Hans Christian Andersen, Robert Louis Stevenson, Elizabeth von Arnim...


Look inside - some sample pages

Hhere are sample pages from six Readers. Paradise Island and The House on the Hill are for Starter or Beginner level (CEFR 0); The Road to Nowhere is Elementary (CEFR A1); Far from the Madding Crowd (Gabriel Oak) is Pre-Intermediate (A2); so is Owl Hall (Arrival); The Canterville Ghost is Intermediate (B1), and Snow Falling on Cedars (The Trial Begins) is Advanced (C1).

Page from Paradise Island Page from The House on the Hill Page from Road to Nowhere Page from Far from the Madding Crowd Page from Owl Hall Page from The Canterville Ghost Page from Snow Falling on Cedars

Some good Readers

Not all Readers are good, even if they're from a good publisher. The publisher may say the author is "Charles Dickens" but in fact only the idea and the names are from Dickens. Here's a list of 35 good Readers:

Level Title Publisher
Starter / Beginner Paradise Island Heinemann Guided Readers
Starter / Beginner The House on the Hill Macmillan Readers
A1 Elementary The Storm Penguin Readers
A1 Elementary The Hound of the Baskervilles Heinemann Guided Readers
A1 Elementary Road to Nowhere Heinemann Guided Readers
A1 Elementary Room 13 and other ghost stories Macmillan Readers
A1 Elementary White Fang Macmillan Readers
A1 Elementary The Canterville Ghost and other stories Macmillan Readers
A1 Elementary Alice in Wonderland Penguin Readers
A1 Elementary Robin Hood Penguin Readers
A1 Elementary Kidnapped Penguin Readers
A1 Elementary Pirates of the Caribbean Penguin Readers
A1 Elementary Walkabout Penguin Readers
A1 Elementary Tales from the Arabian Nights Penguin Readers
A1 Elementary The Last of the Mohicans Penguin Readers
A1 Elementary The Wind in the Willows Penguin Readers
A1 Elementary Moonfleet Penguin Readers
A2 Pre-Intermediate The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Penguin Readers
A2 Pre-Intermediate Notting Hill Penguin Readers
A2 Pre-Intermediate Romeo and Juliet Penguin Readers
A2 Pre-Intermediate Becoming Jane Penguin Readers
A2 Pre-Intermediate The Fugitive Penguin Readers
A2 Pre-Intermediate My Fair Lady Penguin Readers
A2 Pre-Intermediate Sense & Sensibility Penguin Readers
A2 Pre-Intermediate Far From the Madding Crowd Macmillan Readers
A2 Pre-Intermediate Rebecca Macmillan ELT Readers
A2 Pre-Intermediate The Return of Sherlock Holmes Penguin Readers
A2 Pre-Intermediate Owl Hall Macmillan Readers
A2 Pre-Intermediate The Call of the Wild Macmillan Readers
A2 Pre-Intermediate The Secret Garden Macmillan Readers
B1 Intermediate The Perfect Storm Macmillan Readers
B1 Intermediate Dracula Macmillan Classics
B1 Intermediate The Canterville Ghost and other stories Penguin Readers
B1 Intermediate My Cousin Rachel Heinemann Guided Readers
B1 Intermediate Jurassic Park :The Lost World Penguin Readers
B1 Intermediate Nicholas Nickleby Penguin Readers
B1 Intermediate Emma Penguin Readers
B1 Intermediate On the Beach Penguin Readers
B1 Intermediate As Time Goes By Penguin Readers
B2 Upper Intermediate Bleak House Macmillan Readers
C1 Advanced Snow Falling on Cedars Penguin Readers