Jeff writes asking about books for the classroom library


Hola Bryce,   I’m sure you don’t remember me from the CCFLT Conference this year, but I remember you. You gave a great workshop on getting kids reading in your class, and it’s really inspired me. I want my kids to read too!   Now, I must confess that I’ve stolen your idea: You mentioned that you worked out a deal with your principal to get lots of little books instead of spending your budget on a curriculum. I’m working on the same deal with my principal. This brings me to my request, which I know is a big one, but one for which I would be ETERNALLY grateful: Do you by chance have a list of some of the books you would recommend for starting a Spanish classroom library? I’m looking to get a good working library for my Spanish 1, 2 and 3 classes, but I need a good starting point. I’ve got money to spend this year, but I need to know where to spend it!   I’d be SO grateful for any documents/lists you’ve got, and any advice as well as I kick off Light Reading in my classes.   Thanks again!   -Jeff Lorimer

Jeff,   It sounds like you have made some real headway in your light reading program.  Congratulations. Good work.   I am attaching a list of books that I have used in my classes called Ranking the Novels. Selected novels can be extremely valuable to students for a number of reasons, mainly because they are written in language learner language—so the vocabulary is controlled, but the grammar and storyline is not. For more on why we should use novels see the introduction to my Light Reading Book Reports: The idea with these novels is to provide students with books that are high interest and easy reading, just like Language Arts teachers do.   Here is a list that contains some winner Read-Aloud books for different levels: These are engaging books that the teacher can read aloud to students during “Kindergarten Reading” and adjust the vocabulary to the level of the students along the way.   I would caution against buying indiscriminate stacks of children’s books in the TL because they are not as easy to read as we often assume. According to Steven Pinker of M.I.T., a native six year old child can have a receptive vocabulary of between 6,000 and 30,000 words, which is FAR more than our students will have.  Stephen Krashen points out the number of rare words in children’s literature is double that of adult-to-adult conversation, and considerably higher than the vocabulary of prime time television (, so children’s books are not always the best choice for independent reading.   In my experience, exceptions can be well-known and loved children’s books with which students are highly familiar like Green Eggs and Ham, Are You My Mother?, Good Night Moon, the Clifford books, etc. Students can understand those books because they remember the storyline so well and the illustrations jar the their memories and give clues to the words on the page.   Hope this is what you were looking for. Let me know how it goes.   Highest regards,   Bryce