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Recommended literature for ESL book club

  • 1.  Recommended literature for ESL book club

    Posted 18-11-2017 15:50
     To my TESOL community:
    Can anyone recommend short stories or a collection of short stories suited for adult  students in my ESL book club?  The content needs to be interesting and relevant to adults yet with language accessible to intermediate level ESL students. I am most interested in authentic American literature (could be adapted) rather than stories composed expressly for English language learners.   I would love some suggestions. Thanks! 

    Sara Hadfield
    University of Alaska Anchorage

  • 2.  RE: Recommended literature for ESL book club

    Posted 19-11-2017 09:05
    Many of the American, and a British classics have been modified into graded readers for ESL students of all levels. Check out Oxford, Pearson, Cambridge Bookworms, Black Cat, and several other big publishers graded readers selections.

    If if you want good stories about language teaching and learning, for teachers, then definitely The Font.


  • 3.  RE: Recommended literature for ESL book club

    Posted 20-11-2017 08:14
    The Oxford Bookworms series has a lot of adapted classics. My adult students have enjoyed their version of the Wizard of Oz, which might seem like a  children's book, but has a lot of hidden lessons - and can be analyzed using Joseph Cambell's "hero's journey" as it satisfies all of his elements. Also, Townsend Press has a lot of paperback classics for $2 each - and a new book that looks good: The Power of Determination, 14 stories of grit and determination, which they were giving away free at a recent conference. The stories seem like they would spark good discussions among students, but I haven't tried them yet.  We are also starting a book club in our program.  One approach we've used is to have all students read the same news article for discussion, but using Newsela, so that students can read it at whatever level works for them. ( has the same news story at 4-5 different levels of difficulty - and it's free.)

    Nancy Overman
    Associate Teaching Professor
    Georgetown University

  • 4.  RE: Recommended literature for ESL book club

    Posted 20-11-2017 15:27
    I think the best college-level literature anthologies are:

    Discovering Fiction (Levels 1 and 2). Good stories and plenty of follow-up activities.

    A World of Fiction looks interesting, though I have not used.

    English Yes (Advanced) is also good.

    Novels I have taught Mice and Men (good). Old Man and Sea (ok).

    Fences (vernacular is hard)

    Non-Fiction:  Into the Wild (vocab is hard but students like the story)

    Hope this helps. Showing film with novels is big help.

    Stephen Hunt
    Minnesota State University Mankato

  • 5.  RE: Recommended literature for ESL book club

    Posted 20-11-2017 08:33
    Hi Sara,

    I've used the anthology _Great American Short Stories_ published by Barnes and Noble (2012) in an ESL extensive reading course I taught in the past.  Some of the stories are in this anthology are too hard, but it is an ample and affordable anthology which also lends itself well if to teaching elements of American history and culture.  The stories I used most successfully were " The Revolt of Mother", "The Gift of the Magi", "The Open Boat" and "To Build a Fire." The anthology takes you all the way from Washington Irving to F. Scott Fitzgerald in terms of dates.

    Wendy Jager

    Wendy Jager
    ESL Coordinator for Interfaith RISE

  • 6.  RE: Recommended literature for ESL book club

    Posted 20-11-2017 08:34
    I have been very happy with the books from Townsend Press.  Townsend Press has a lot of the classics adapted to language learners in The Townsend Library.  They list each of their titles with a Lexile level.  I always use Up from Slavery in my ESL class in the spring.  They have many other classics.  I do wish they had more stories about the plains as that is where we are located, but the selection is very good.  They are also available in as ebooks.

    Ann Bouma
    University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  • 7.  RE: Recommended literature for ESL book club

    Posted 20-11-2017 08:57
    I don't know of a specific title, but what about a collection of American tall tales written for children without all the "cowboyish" language?  Even if there was a little bit of hyperbole or some similes and metaphors higher level students could work on figurative language as long as there weren't a lot of colloquial language.

    Molly Kennedy
    Millard Public Schools

  • 8.  RE: Recommended literature for ESL book club

    Posted 20-11-2017 14:10
    To be honest, I have given away all my graded reader Classics. Why? I found that the students relied on the internet for answers to every kind of question I asked - character, plot, etc. I tried making innovative questions (changes in the character, etc), but there were just too many other  academic  and professional reviews available.   If you want them to have exposure to "the Classics," then the Graded Reader versions are great. If you want them to do critical thinking on their own, lesser known stories may be more effective.

    Janice GT Penner

    Douglas College,

  • 9.  RE: Recommended literature for ESL book club

    Posted 21-11-2017 01:46
      |   view attached
    Hi Sara, Here's a list of ESL novels I made for low(ish) level adult ESL learners a number of years ago. It may be slightly out of date but hope it's useful. There's also links to other resources at the end of the list.

    Paul Louis
    Academic Quality Manager
    English First Academic Partnerships


    ESL novels.docx   44K 1 version