"She can't talk," explained an earnest classmate, referring to the bilingual learner next to me who had been in the country for a year. "She doesn't know English." I looked at the student, and both she and I knew that wasn't true. But she remained silent.
Later that day, when students chose independent reading books, the student's fingers lingered over the bookshelves - filled only with English chapter books - and then pulled a book that was too difficult for her reading level.
I watched her pour over the pages, decoding each multisyllabic word the best she could when I asked her to read to me. Students at my school, a Title I school serving primarily bilingual learners who come from immigrant and refuge backgrounds, face several challenges in developing literacy: the lack of a school library, and a dearth of high-interest, low-reading-level books for English language learners.
We need awesome, engaging books for readers at all levels to encourage kids to love reading and increase the accessibility of English. With no school-wide library of our own, it is up to teachers to find and provide the best texts for students to read and learn from.
My students love to read. But reading chapter books in English can be daunting, especially when you are acquiring a new language! These books will fuel my students' love of reading in their home languages while providing them with engaging, high-quality English graphic novels and illustrated chapter books to create a more accessible English reading experience. Books like Smile, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Holes are beloved by bilingual learners and provide some common ground for discussion between students, no matter if they're reading the book in Spanish, English, or Arabic!
Students will devour these books during their guided reading and independent reading times, whether they discuss it with a friend or small group or savor the book on their own.
Quality books make for engaged, curious, and enthusiastic readers, and your help will provide students with access to amazing texts.
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