Each child is unique. When selecting a book to read with a child who is learning English, one needs to consider a variety of factors in order to make an effective match. This begins with getting to know the child. Here are some questions to guide the book selection process:
What is the child’s age? Grade? Developmental stage?
For example, for a kindergartener you might want to select books that have vivid illustrations, are not too text heavy, are predictable texts, and involve repetition or rhyme.
For a fourth grader a a picture book with more advanced content might be appropriate.
What is the child’s cultural, linguistic and literacy background?
For example, a child with Dominican heritage might identify with texts that provide authentic representations of Dominican individuals, life and traditions.
How familiar is this child with aspects of U.S. culture?
For example, a newly arrived Korean child may be unfamiliar with the US celebration of Thanksgiving, so a book about this holiday might provide information and build knowledge of U.S. culture.
What is the child’s English language proficiency level?
A child with a higher level of English aural proficiency is capable of comprehending texts that are longer and more complex.
What are the child’s interests?
For example, a child who is fascinated by snakes might be engaged in listening to informational texts about all kinds of serpents.
What curriculum is being used in the classroom? How can you connect with content area themes?
For example, in a classroom studying construction, building background knowledge or reinforcing construction-related concepts would buttress understanding.
other helpful tips:
Note: You may also want to consult the library guide on The Academic Language in Read Alouds Project at Boston College