Graded Readers: Why They Are Useful and How to Use Them in Class

Graded Readers
Why They Are Useful and How to Use Them in Class

Andrea Pesce
by Andrea Pesce 3,244 views |

I'm sure most would agree that where language learning is concerned, exposure is vital.

However, what happens very often is that our students are only able to dedicate 2 – 3 hours a week to taking lessons, some a bit more, others a bit less. So, how can we solve the problem of exposure? Well, mostly through exercises outside the classroom because our students can do them in their own time. Among the many, many options we can find to increase exposure, graded readers are a great. There is no arguing why reading is important to our students and since we do very little reading in class, it certainly becomes a great option. After all, the short texts normally covered in class are not enough to really get them reading. Graded readers are an amazing complement since as we all know they are short versions of books that have been adapted to different levels or are short books written for specific levels. There is great variety in options too, so that also keeps students motivated. You want your students to enjoy what they are learning, right? One of the main issues our students face is anxiety. This has a direct effect on motivation. Graded readers are an incredible option to keep in mind when the objective is to provide greater exposure to the second language and keep anxiety low.

9 Reasons Why Graded Readers Are an Awesome Tool

  • They help increase exposure to the language students are learning and since graded readers are accessible, it is something that is easy to do out of class, anytime and anywhere. It is something they can do on their own which encourages students to become independent in their learning and to develop good English reading habits.
  • They make literature accessible and enjoyable. Students feel frustrated when using authentic texts. Sometimes they are simply much too difficult. Texts like articles can be frustrating and demotivating.
  • Graded readers are amazing for vocabulary acquisition. They show vocabulary in clear contexts which allows students to read extensively. Since there are glossaries and vocabulary is limited, this keeps anxiety low.
  • They are available in almost any ESL proficiency level and the vocabulary is controlled and recycled. Grammar is controlled and limited to each level as well.
  • They improve proficiency, general knowledge, enjoyment and reading skills. This boosts confidence.
  • Reading becomes faster and more fluent. When we read in our own language we read in chunks. Graded readers simplify and recycle language which makes it easier for students to understand the text.
  • Better understanding of how language works. Graded readers allow students to understand how language is constructed. They can recognize real examples of how sentences are combined to form paragraphs and how paragraphs are arranged to form texts. By reading longer texts students will have the opportunity to see language as a way to communicate ideas and opinions.
  • Writing skills also improve. Many have noticed that extended reading activities tend to lead to improvements in other skills such as writing. More so if reading is followed by writing activities.

9 Great Ideas How to Use Graded Readers

While students are reading a book it is important for teachers to provide activities that are useful. These activities are meant to ensure students understand what they are reading. They are also meant to encourage students to think about key facts, events or characters as well as to make predictions.

There are many suggestions for activities that can be used to work with graded readers.

  • Retelling the story by using a sequence of simple sentences. They can make the sentences themselves or you can provide them and they put them in order.
  • If the book has illustrations you can photocopy them and mount them on cards. You then ask each student to retell the story in their own words. You can also provide some words to help them if needed.
  • Choose one of the characters and have the students tell the story from that character's point of view.
  • Write a summary of the story but make sure it contains mistakes. Have them read through it and find the mistakes and later they can rewrite it.
  • Have students write descriptions of places and or characters in the book. For advanced students they can analyze the characters' personalities and their role in the story.
  • Ask them to change the ending of the story so that it's completely different from the original.
  • Take one or two characters out of the story and ask them if the story would change and how it would do so.
  • Use key vocabulary from the story to practice questions. You can ask them questions and afterwards they can ask each other.
  • Choose a different title. Have students make up another title for the story/book. Explain that the new title should be coherent.


Graded readers are an incredible way to make students work toward improving their skills.

The best part is that they do most of the work outside the classroom which means they are always productive and on their feet. Remember, busy teachers are always on the look out for amazing.

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