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  • 1.  Recommendations for Graded Readers for Adults

    Posted 01-11-2022 12:59 AM

    I work with advanced English speaking adults online.  I'm located in the US but many of them are in Japan.   They are interested in reading English books, like the "classics" but also popular modern books.   I am trying to find a type of book that is somewhat modified for ESL readers, but is still at a high level AND that can be ordered and shipped to individuals.  I'd also like to find versions that have glossed vocabulary and discussion/comprehension questions

    So, for example, the original Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is too hard, but a child's version is not challenging enough.   I have looked for "Graded Readers," but have a lot of trouble finding something appropriate that is available for purchase.  Most of the graded readers I've found are too low level and/or difficult to order.

    I visited Black Cat booth at the IATEFL conference in N. Ireland earlier this year, and they had a lot of nice titles, including "All Creatures Great and Small."   I had to register for their website, and when trying to order, it's asking for a "fiscal code" and a "VAT ID."   So, I think it will be hard for my students in Japan to order copies of this book from the website, and it isn't available on Amazon.   I visited Penguin Readers' website, but when I tried to order a title that seemed appropriate, I was told to contact my local distributor for more information, and the US was not listed as a country with a local distributor...?   Any advice for finding a good source of books?   Thank you!  

    Elizabeth Bigler
    Owner/Head Teacher
    Bigler ESL
    United States

  • 2.  RE: Recommendations for Graded Readers for Adults

    Posted 01-11-2022 08:03 PM
    Hello Liz:

    On the U.S. Department of State's American English website, there are several readers adapted from American literature for intermediate to advanced level learners.  You can find the readers here ( in the Reading menu.  The books do not provide comprehension questions; however, there is a short glossary at the end.  The entire text of the books can be freely download, or you can download individual chapters.  Additionally, the books come with audio (also freely downloadable) if you want to design any listening activities or have students listen as they read along.

    If you don't receive other response here, you might like to repost your query in the discussion forum of the Reading & Vocabulary Interest Section.

    Best wishes.

    Nikki Ashcraft
    Past Chair, Membership Professional Council
    University of Missouri

  • 3.  RE: Recommendations for Graded Readers for Adults

    Posted 02-11-2022 10:39 AM
       Thank you for sharing this link and information.  This is a great resource.   While we were doing online classes over the last few years, one of the biggest problems was being able to get materials for our students who were in the Middle East, China, Japan, Korea, and other places.   Publisher reps were of limited help since their sister companies in other countries had different materials or rules.  It was crazy.  So again thank you--I will keep a record of this resource!

    Karen Vallejo
    University of California
    United States

  • 4.  RE: Recommendations for Graded Readers for Adults

    Posted 02-11-2022 10:47 AM
        This was an issue for us too while we were teaching online.   Some of the best e-books of graded readers that I used were from Oxford University Press-their 'Bookshelf' readers.   You may want to try here to see if it is what you want.   (I used Curse of Capistrano and Sherlock Holmes at a low intermediate level.  They worked nicely.

    Make sure you ask if these e-book versions are available in the countries where you have students.   I learned that various publishers have different availability and restrictions depending on the country.

    Karen Vallejo
    ESL & TEFL Instructor
    University of California, Irvine
    United States

  • 5.  RE: Recommendations for Graded Readers for Adults

    Posted 03-11-2022 08:03 AM

    Hi Elizabeth!

    So, graded readers are one of the only resources that I enthusiastically recommend going to major ELT publishers for. Personal opinion here, but I think that the higher quality of the books and graphic design, the range of high interest topics, etc., all really matter in trying to encourage self-directed extensive reading (though I'm not certain from your post whether what you're working on is extensive reading).

    There is a wide range of options from each of these major publishers:

    Pearson -
    OUP -
    Cambridge -

    The issue of getting them in certain markets is definitely a challenge. As someone else noted, Oxford Bookworms are mostly available as ebooks (though Oxford's digital platforms are kind of a nightmare). Penguin Readers also appear to be available as ebooks.

    Since you mentioned Japan in particular, another solution is ESL bookstores. There are both brick and mortar and online bookstores specializing in ESL books in major cities in Japan that will have entire sections of graded readers.

    Hope this helps!


    Rob Sheppard
    TESOL AEIS Past Co-Chair
    Asst. Director for Curriculum and Instruction
    Temple University Center for American Language and Culture (TCALC)

  • 6.  RE: Recommendations for Graded Readers for Adults

    Posted 05-11-2022 04:35 AM
    Hi Elizabeth,
    If your students are fine with reading online readers, they may find some interesting titles on ELI Graded Readers website:

    The link above is the page where students can find non-copyrighted graded readers to read online. These readers are powered by an online platform offering magazines and books in readable flip book style. Some materials are available free to read. What's good about, it makes non-copyrighted readers available on one page. The choice of titles is limited, and they are mostly literary classics, not modern action-thrillers; for instance Hamlet, Importance of Being Earnest, Vanity Fair, The Prisoner of Zenda, The Portrait of a Lady, etc.

    Fayyaz Malik
    Al Yamamah University
    Saudi Arabia