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Book Review by
There are many series of graded readers available, many collections of stories, biographies, histories, and, of course, simplified retellings of classic literature. But readers that are truly appropriate for students with beginning proficiency are rare, and books that are of real interest to high school students and adults at the beginning level are rarer still. If you add up-to-date and widely international topics, and beautiful color illustration throughout, this new series by Andrew Bennett may be unique.
The series starts with Read 50: 50-Word Reading Passages for Fact, Fiction, and Fun. The readings are based on a 600-word lexicon, which makes them appropriate, if not for absolute beginners, at least for low beginning students. The books get somewhat more difficult as the length of the readings increases from 75 to 100 to 125 words; the underlying lexicon increases from 700 to 800 to 900 words; the grammar progresses as well. However, Read 125 is still appropriate for advanced beginners or perhaps low intermediates.
Although it is a truism, it is none the less true that we all learn to read by reading, whether we are working on adult literacy, English as a Second or Foreign Language, or overcoming any of the many learning disabilities that effect reading skills. This series provides 40 readings on many diverse topics in each book, 160 in all. That is a lot of practice. Furthermore, in today's world, we need to be able to read material in many contexts, stories and articles, of course, but also recipes, maps, charts, timetables, and graphs as well as cell-phone text messages, emails, websites, chatrooms, and blogs. Samples of all of these and more are included.
There are many ways to use a good reader, which is good because people learn and teach best in different ways. To make these materials as flexible as possible, the author and publishers have provided a few useful exercises that work on reading, vocabulary, and grammar skills, and a recording on four CDs of all 160 stories. And, at the back of each book, there is also a page of suggestions for the teacher of creative ways just right for beginners to build conversation and writing skills using the books.
Students of any age who are struggling with literacy in their own or a new language need lots of practice on carefully controlled language. However, beyond that they need motivation. It is vital that they want to read, that they learn to enjoy reading. This colorful, sophisticated, and entertaining collection of articles will both entertain and inform your students, and make your reading class both easy and a pleasure.
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