Writing a Graded Reader

I’m going to try to write a graded reader. Exciting, right? The first problem is that I’ve never done anything like this before. Nevertheless, I am going to attempt to get one published. I will post my journey here – it might serve as a guide of what to do and what not to do for anyone else who would like to write one of these books.

Why I think I can do this

Although I have no experience writing graded readers, I do have experience writing for newspapers and radio. Before I became an EAL teacher, I worked as a reporter, so I have, in fact, published my non-fiction work before. I did some creative writing in my English B.A. degree and a ton of non-fiction for my journalism degree. In my current career, I love creating materials for my class. It’s one of the best parts of my job.  And like many EAL teachers, I read and read and read. If you add all of these things up, it’s suddenly obvious: I should write a graded reader. Great! Sign me up!

Getting started

As a novice, I’m going to look to successful writers for guidance. How fortuitous it is that one of my CELTA tutors, Sue Leather, has written a terrific guide book called How to Write Graded Readers (available here). Sue has written many readers, some of which have won awards, and has also been an editor on a series.  Based on her advice, my first steps are:

  1. Read some graded readers. I’m going to focus on non-fiction because this is the genre I’m most interested in. Since most of my classes are intermediate to advanced, I’ll concentrate on these levels. I’ve borrowed a few from a reading class at my school and will try to get through them in the next few days:

–       The Story of the Internet by Stephen Bryant, Penguin Readers, Longman,    Upper Intermediate Level 5

–       Nick Leeson Rogue Trader Retold by Susan Fearn, Penguin Readers, Longman, Pre-Intermediate Level 3

–       Grey Owl by Vicky Shipton, Penguin Readers, Pearson, Pre-Intermediate Level 3

–       Bounce! The Wonderful World of Rubber by Karmel Schreyer, Discovery Education (Interactive Readers) , Cambridge, Level B2

After these, I’ll read from other publishers and other series.

 Who is publishing what

Another piece of homework is to research different publishers to get a clear picture of what series each offers. I collected several catalogues from publishers at the recent BC TEAL conference, so that is where I’ll start.

I’ll be back in a week to update my progress! Thanks for reading.

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