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Children's Literature- English Language Learners

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Children's Literature for ELL

This guide supports selecting books for English Language Learners.

Book Selection- How do I find a good book to read with an ELL?

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:

  • You may want to prepare a few books to bring with you so that your student has an opportunity to select a book of their interest.
  • Choose a variety of genres- fiction, nonfiction/informational, biographies, poetry, traditional literature, historical fiction, fantasy, realistic fiction (This will enable students to see the wide variety of books that are available)

Download a copy of the complete Academic Language in Read Alouds: Book Selection Checklist 

Locating Children's Literature at the ERC

The library catalog is the database for identifying which titles the Educational Resource Center collection contains. 

Helpful Search tips:
You may want to select the Advanced Search in order to search only the ERC collection. Use the Search Scope pull down menu.

In the Advanced Search you can use the pull down menu to define the search by subject- some useful subject headings for finding children's literature are: 

"children's literature"   "juvenile fiction"   "children's stories"   "juvenile poetry"   "folklore"

If you are looking for nonfiction books in the Any Field box type a keyword in the search box followed by the second search box with keywords "Juvenile Literature".  This will give you results limited to nonfiction.