Finally Friday: Libros Nuevos

I know it’s not Friday, but it is our last day of school before Spring Break, so that’s close enough for me. I have some books I need to write about before we go.

If you read this blog much, you know that I teach English learners. Most of them are longterm English learners. They have been in the U.S. for a long time, most were born here, and they speak English fluently. They are still considered English Learners because they are academically behind the mainstream students due to issues of English language developent. Usually we have only a couple of students who are newcomers to the U.S., those who know no English. We used to have a lot, but now, not so much. This year the population of newcomers grew rather quickly. At one point we had eight of them. This doesn’t sound like so many, I know, but the need to provide materials was urgent, as we didn’t have much. Unlike our Longterm English learners, these students are academically close to being on grade level in their native language. This needs to be maintained in any way possible so that as their English grows the academic skill will transfer to their second language.

The only books we had in our school that are written in Spanish are illustrated childrens’ books. I have them in my classroom, but to offer those books to students who are accustomed to reading grade level books is boring to them, and does not help to maintain their reading level.  They need books that will capture their imaginations, make them think, books that will do for them what a book does for anyone who loves to read. Occasionally I buy a book in Spanish for my personal classroom iPad, and they enjoy those but can’t take them home. This has left them at a loss when we do silent reading in the mixed level second class they are in.

So a month or so ago I ordered novels for them. I ordered La Leccion de August (Wonder) by R.J.Palacios, Devolver al Remitente (Return to Sender) by Julia Alvarez, Divergente (Divergent) by Veronica Roth, Hoyos (Holes) by Louis Sacher, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, and El Color de mis Palabras (The Color of My Words) by Lynn Joseph. I already had El Alquimista (The Alchemist) by Paolo Coelho. Some of these books are pictured above. I chose them because of recommendations of others or because I’d read them myself.

Yesterday the novels finally arrived. When they came to class, I showed them to the students. The level of excitement was something that I haven’t seen for a long time. They giggled and grabbed and begged to take them home with them. Kimberly agonized over whether to read Divergent or Wonder and finally, timidly, asked if she could borrow both of them so she has something to read over the Spring Break. Who could say “no” to a kid wanting to borrow two books? Not me.

It was really fun to see kids so excited about books they can read. I wish my other students, the longterm English learners, would get even half as excited about a book. And now I wish I could find a book in Farsi for our lone student from Pakistan. I’m on a quest!



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