Posted By P & L Blog

What books would you recomment to an adult friend learning English as a second (or third) language?

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Young-adult novels are a good choice for adult students because they tend to be clear and compact, but a steady diet of adolescent main characters might start to grate. There's an extensive annotated list of novels for intermediate language students at (the library of the City College of San Francisco). Almost all of them are young-adult novels like "The Giver," the story of a boy in a dystopian society where everyone is happy.

You might also piggyback some American culture and history on the curriculum by introducing young-adult books from earlier decades: "The Yearling" by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings; "Old Yeller" by Fred Gipson; "Johnny Tremain" by Esther Forbes; "Shane" by Jack Schaefer; or one of my personal favorites, "My Side of the Mountain" by Jean Craighead George. I'd add the Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery (set in Canada), because over the nine-book series, Anne Shirley becomes an adult.

Remembering "Shane" reminded me of westerns—might some of Louis L'Amour's books be manageable for intermediate or advanced students? Another genre to explore is the memoir—simple inspiring stories of Helen Keller ("The Story of My Life"); Russell Baker ("Growing Up"); or James McBride ("The Color of Water").

Short stories have the virtue of shortness, appreciated by bone-tired students. Daphne du Maurier wrote thrilling short stories (two of which were made into the movies "The Birds" and "Don't Look Now"—read the story, see the movie). Alice Munro writes clear, spare prose to great effect, as do Jean Thompson and Amy Bloom. James Thurber, a master of the short story, wrote "The Wonderful O," in which a wrathful pirate banishes the letter "o" from the English language. Wnderful wrd play.


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