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