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Matching Books and Readers: Selecting Literature for English Learners

by Sylvia M. Vardell, Nancy L. Hadaway and Terrell A. Young

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Matching Books and Readers: Selecting Literature for English Learners

Grades 3 – 5
Type Journal
Published May 2006
Publisher International Literacy Association



Students learning English as a new language are the fastest-growing group in U.S. schools today. These students speak many languages, their reading levels cover a wide range, and they experience great cognitive demands as they learn both language and content in order to participate fully in class.

Literature can play a critical role in immersing children in a new language, and school and classroom libraries are integral parts of this process. This article offers guidelines for selecting fiction, poetry, and nonfiction literature that can facilitate the language development and reading comprehension of English learners along with suggested lists of children's books for each genre. A variety of techniques for sharing literature is also suggested, including

  • Reading aloud regularly to provide a fluent model of reading

  • Drawing attention to featured authors or books with bulletin board displays

  • Spotlighting a book of the week through book talks or by reading excerpts aloud

Teachers also need to step back and provide time and freedom of choice for students to enjoy books and continue to add to the collection as students' language proficiencies develop and their reading tastes mature.

Vardell, S.M., Hadaway, N.L., & Young, T.A. (2006, May). Matching Books and Readers: Selecting Literature for English Learners. The Reading Teacher, 59(8), 734741. doi: 10.1598/RT.59.8.1


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