My level III Spanish students are surprising me with their light reading choices.

All through the first two years of Spanish the students have chosen their light reading materials in typical SVR fashion, sometimes with light accountability, sometimes without it. In level III the accoutabilbity is still light, but now they are required to write a Light Reading Book Report.  These reports, along with materials that provide motivation and explanations are found on this site on the Free Stuff page at:

For light reading, students are directed to pick a novel that is interesting and comprehensible to them.  I try to say this in many different ways so they get it: you should like it and it should not be too hard to understand; it should be something that holds your interest and that you most get, etc. What surprises me is that some students are picking such easy novels.  Other students are picking what seem to be almost ridiculously hard novels for this level like Harry Potter, but at least half of the students are picking easy level I novels like Pobre Ana, Piratas, and Los Baker van Peru. I told them they could pick what they want, but for crying out loud, those are TOO easy, people! Or so I thought…

I interview each student on their book choice. I look into their eyes and try to see into their souls as we talk about it. And I have to say that I am convinced that most of them sincerely seem to want to read these books.  And when I reflect on the Comprehension Hypothesis, I also am reminded that they can get something out of a book not matter the “level”.  So this is how I am thinking about it now:

1) None of us reads at “our level” all of the time when we read for pleasure.  The average newspaper is written at the 6th grade level, the average popular novel at the 7th grade level.  So reading down a level or two is acceptable, maybe even recommended for this type of reading.

2) They can get something out of it no matter how “easy” the level. Every student has holes in their acquisition.  Nobody gets it perfectly even if we have “covered” it in class. There are verb forms and vocabulary that students need more time with in every novel. Most of the novels written by TPRS teachers also contain considerable cultural material.

3) It is SUPPOSED to be easy.  This is light reading, not academic reading.  The first time they read Pobre Ana in Spanish I, it was probably “academic reading” for them, in that they needed a bit of help learning the words as we read it.  Now they can read it easily on their own.

Here are the novels from one of my Spanish III classes that students self-selected for their Light Reading assignment last month (In some cases multiple students chose the same novel):

A toda velocidad, by Eric Walters

Los Baker van a Perú, Nathaniel Kilroy

La chica del tren, Jordi Suris

Esperanza, Carol Gaab

Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal, J.K. Rowling

Julie B Jones es una peluquera, by Barbara Park

Mi propio auto, by Lisa Ray Turner and Blaine Ray

Noches misteriosas en Granada, Kristy Placido

El nuevo Houdini, Carol Gaab

Piratas, Mira Canion

Pobre Ana bailó tango, Patricia Verano, Verónica Moscoso, Blaine Ray

Problemas en paraíso, Carol Gaab

Rebeldes de Tejas, Mira Canion

Las Tres de la madrugada, Miguel Buñuel

La verdad, Tanya Lloyd Lyi