10 High Interest Graded Readers for the Writing Classroom

Reading in the writing classroom? Sure, why not. Experienced ESL writing teachers know there is a strong correlation between reading fluency and writing fluency. That’s why a book report (based on graded readers) is part of my class curriculum each semester.

And on a personal note, I remember a first-year university student commented at the end of the semester that this was the first time she had read an English language book. Great, I thought, the journey has begun. Now if I could only convince my university student to commit to an extensive reading habit!

About graded readers

Graded readers are books that have been specifically written for English language learners at different proficiency levels. They are a great tool for ESL students to improve their language skills while enjoying engaging stories. Here are ten graded readers for ESL students with summaries.

Ideas for graded readers

Here is a list of graded readers that my students have read and enjoyed over the years.

“The Elephant Man” by Tim Vicary (Level 1)

This is the story of John Merrick, who was born with a severe deformity that made him the subject of ridicule and curiosity. But with the help of a kind doctor, he finds acceptance and friendship.

graded reader ideas for the writing class

A wonderful story

“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain (Level 2)

Tom Sawyer is a mischievous young boy who lives in a small town on the Mississippi River. He and his friend Huck Finn go on adventures and get into trouble, but they always manage to find a way out.

“Dracula” by Bram Stoker (Level 3)

This classic horror story follows the infamous vampire Count Dracula as he seeks to spread his curse to unsuspecting victims. A group of brave individuals must band together to stop him.

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Level 4)

This novel is set in the Roaring Twenties and follows the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby as he tries to win back his lost love. It explores themes of love, money, and the corrupting influence of power.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee (Level 5)

Set in the American South in the 1930s, this novel tells the story of Scout Finch and her brother Jem as they witness the racism and injustice in their community. Their father, a lawyer, defends a black man who has been falsely accused of a crime.

“The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank (Level 6)

This is the diary of a young Jewish girl who, along with her family, goes into hiding during World War II to escape the Nazis. Anne writes about her thoughts, feelings, and experiences while in hiding.

“The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde (Level 7)

This novel tells the story of a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. As he indulges in a life of sin and debauchery, a portrait of him ages and shows the true ugliness of his soul.

“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger (Level 8)

This coming-of-age novel follows the adventures of Holden Caulfield, a teenage boy who has been expelled from his prep school. He struggles to find his place in the world and comes to grips with the harsh realities of adulthood.

“1984” by George Orwell (Level 9)

This dystopian novel takes place in a future society where citizens are constantly monitored and controlled by a totalitarian government. The protagonist, Winston Smith, rebels against the oppressive regime and falls in love with a fellow dissident.

BTW Here’s an interesting book review from 1949.

orwell grade readers


“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen (Level 10)

This classic romance novel follows the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy as they navigate the social norms and expectations of their society. It explores themes of love, marriage, and class divisions in 19th-century England.

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