Using Graded Readers to Improve your English

What are Graded Readers?

Graded readers are special books designed for English learners, carefully written to match different levels of proficiency. Some graded readers are adapted from classic novels by famous authors like Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, George Orwell, Roald Dahl, and Oscar Wilde, while others offer original fiction and non-fiction tailored for learners.

Understanding Graded Reader Levels

Graded readers are categorized according to proficiency levels linked to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). For example, A1 readers employ simple vocabulary, while higher levels increase in complexity. Ideally, learners should already know about 98% of the words for the reader to be most effective.

You can find your level here.

How Can Graded Readers Help Learners?

  • Enhanced Reading Skills: Research has shown that graded readers significantly boost reading skills, much more effectively than reading ungraded materials written for native speakers.

  • Vocabulary Expansion: While learners should already know about 98% of the words, graded readers expose learners to these words in varied contexts and show you how to make the most effective use of your vocabulary, teaching collocation, connotation, and idiomatic meaning.

  • Grammar Reinforcement: By repeatedly encountering grammatical structures in contexts which are memorable, learners solidify their understanding of grammar. This can happen almost subconsciously.

  • Exploration of Diverse Realities: Reading places the reader in different worlds and makes you consider different perspectives which you may not encounter in your day-to-day life, helping you gain a deeper understanding of the language.

  • Cultural Understanding: More and more publishers offer graded readers adapted from classic books from a range of countries. You may find graded translations of your favorite books.

  • Audiobooks: Some publishers offer audiobooks which you can read alongside the printed version to improve your listening and pronunciation.
  • Fun Learning: Interesting stories make you want to keep reading. Reading for pleasure is much more effective for your language acquisition.

How to Use Graded Readers

  • Write Down New Words: Keep a notebook for new words you learn.

  • Keep Track of What You Read: Write down the books you read and what you thought about them.

  • Write Your Own Stories: Try writing your own stories inspired by what you read.

  • Summarize What You Read: Write a short summary of the book to practice your writing.

Choosing the Right Readers

  • Pick Stories You Like: Choose books about topics you enjoy. It’s more fun to read about things you like.

  • Think About Your Learning Goals: Choose books that help you reach your English learning goals. If you’re studying for an exam like the IELTS, TOEFL, or Cambridge exams, try to choose a variety of books both fiction and non-fiction to build your knowledge of different topics in English.

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Try Different Levels: If a book is too hard, try an easier one. If it’s too easy, try a harder one.

Where to Find Graded Readers (Free)

You can find graded readers online for free. Websites like Free Graded Readers, English e-Reader, ESL Reading, Extensive Reading Central, Oxford Owl, and British Council have lots of books for you to read.

Start reading today and discover how much fun learning English can be with graded readers!