This week, we are celebrating World Book Day (WBD) – an international celebration of books, authors, illustrators and reading, marked in over 100 countries all over the world!
In most countries, WBD is observed on 23rd April, (which coincidentally is the death date of both Cervantes and Shakespeare!), however in the UK and Ireland, it is typically celebrated on the first Thursday in March due to clashes with the long school holidays. In Britain, children usually dress up as their favourite characters from books, take part in book-related activities and receive tokens to buy books at greatly reduced prices.
So, in light of this event, NEP invites you to read on to see our recommendations on how to use books to master a foreign language.
Our recommendations for parents of young children:
- Buy bilingual story books with lots of pictures and make reading them in English part of a daily story-time ritual before bed.
- Alternatively, if your English is of a reasonable level, why not buy them in original version? Amazon.co.uk delivers to Spain, and Amazon.es has a large collection of books available in English.
- Bilingual fairy-tales such as ‘Little Red Riding Hood’
- The ‘Mr Men’ & ‘Little Miss’ series by Adam Hargreaves
- The “Oi” series by Kes Grey & Jim Field (‘Oi Frog’, ‘Oi Dog’, ‘Oi Cat’, & ‘Oi Dog’)
- ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle
- ‘Percy the Pigeon’ by Katie Budge
- ‘The Squirrels Who Squabbled’, ‘The Lion Inside’, ‘The Koala Who Could’ by Rachel Bright
Recommendations for children:
- There are lots of great books for children but school or parental support may be needed to maintain motivation and to help deal with the vocabulary used in authentic English books. Why not try books with film versions to aid comprehension? Film clips can be used chapter by chapter to accompany the reading process, or can be used as a reward for reaching the end of a book.
- You can also hunt for illustrated audio-books so that children can listen along as they read. Intonation carries a lot of meaning, so even if the words are unfamiliar, the general meaning may be deduced from the context, the pictures and the intonation.
- Look for books which are both fun and funny! Reading should never be a chore!
- Comic books or Manga in English
- ‘Winnie the Pooh’ by A. A. Milne
- ‘Charlotte’s Web’ by E. B. White
- Almost anything by Roald Dahl! e.g. ‘The BFG’, ‘The Twits’, ‘The Witches’, ‘Matilda’, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, ‘James and the Giant Peach’, etc.
- ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ by C.S. Lewis
- Classics in bilingual books such as ‘The Little Prince’, ‘Robinson Crusoe’, ‘Oliver Twist’
Recommendations for adults and teens:
For levels B1 and below, you could choose a children’s book that you love; that way, you already know the story and this will help with the comprehension. They are also simpler than most adult books and more fun!
You could read bilingual books to compare the story in both languages.
Another option is to buy ‘graded readers’ (Macmillan has a good selection), which are novels which have been rewritten specifically for foreign language learners. The advantage of these is that the content is adult enough to be stimulating, but the language is adapted to your level.
If you are reading an authentic book (i.e. in its original version), make notes in the margins as you read. It will help to aid retention of key vocabulary and will help you to remember the way the story progresses.
Try to avoid using a dictionary too much as it will become tiresome, rather than something enjoyable. Remember that you don’t need to understand every single word in order to understand and enjoy the story.
Book recommendations for B2 and below:
- Comic books or Manga in English.
- A children’s book like Harry Potter (not recommended for below a high level B1).
- Alternatively, try Macmillan Graded Readers for your level. There are adapted novels to suit all tastes and here are some of the best ones available: ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘One Day’, ‘Emma’, ‘Dracula’, ‘Bridget Jones’, ‘David Copperfield’, ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘James Bond’, ‘Rebecca’, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’.
Book recommendations for B2 and C1:
- ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ by Mark Haddon
- ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell
- ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck
- ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ by John Boyne