Go to The Daily Telegraph 19.01.08 and you find a list of the best children’s books. I happened to get it from my mother-in-law and I kept it as a treasure and now the time to further spread the word has come. Any native speaker will have a collection of special books and authors in their minds of their own childhood, but as English is a Second language for me, my childhood wasn’t filled with Dr Seuss, Eric Carle or Bill Martin. I had a children’s version of the Don Quixote but not hungry caterpillars, brown bears nor cats in hats…unfortunately. So a list in a newspaper of must haves seems like a good starting point, not to mention the plus of native speaker friends to help me.
So now that I have a list and friends to help me, what’s the purpose of knowing the must-read books?
Well, children love stories and without a coursebook to follow for my 4 yr old students I have decided to tell stories. A really ancient tradition which I think can help me in my teaching of English. But where to start and moreover how to select them as I have only two sessions a week of half an hour and English is not present in a Spanish child’s daily life in the least?
We have then two questions:
– Which books would be interesting for my students.
– Which books would be appropiate for ESL learning.
The problem of using authentic material as opposed to the graded readers is that the language of books that would interest our students can be too difficult and those on the level of our students can be too childish. The advantage when reading books in a foreign language is that children don’t reject books that they would find childish in their own language. This fact gives ESL teachers a margin of two years, three and sometimes even more to play with.