My mother teaches English as a Second Language to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at a public middle school. Although for the most part these kids are intelligent and have been successful in school in the past, most are learning English for the first time after moving to the USA from every continent. She has had students from China, Korea, Europe, Russia, Mexico, and even rural Africa. A few are a bit more advanced, having taken English classes in their native country. But they are all in her class because they cannot read English at a middle school level.
Since reading more helps one become a better reader, it’s important that they have reading material available to them, not just for academic subjects but for fun. However, being in the public school system, my mom is limited by the school library, which is, in her words, “pathetic.” Beyond other issues, it only has books at a middle school reading level. She’s been given the chance to spend some money (certainly not enough) on lower reading level books to support her students, but she needs some help finding the perfect books to spend the money on.
She’s hoping to find some books that will help her students feel confident about their reading, even though it’s below their peers’ level. The books will give them the experience they need to gain vocabulary and reading competence. The books need to be no higher than a third-grade reading level, but the subject matter must be appropriate for a middle school student: interesting, entertaining, and certainly not something with a babyish-cover that would embarrass them in the middle of an ever-judgmental middle school crowd.
I have not read most of these books, since my son is below the early reader age and early chapter book age. In addition to those below (which are mostly early chapter books), early readers that do not say “I can read!” and First steps to reading!” on them might be useful for the lowest level kids. Any suggestions that you may have, or comments on these books that you have read, would be appreciated!
I found the interest levels and reading levels (which refer to grade levels) from the Scholastic Teacher Book Wizard tool, a nice resource for discovering books before you buy them. Many of the books I’ve listed say “interest level grades 3 to 5;” I’d be interested to know whether they might also appeal to grades 6 to 8. Please comment if you know!