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"Books and movies are like apples and oranges. They both are fruit, but taste completely different."

- Stephen King

In Search of the Elusive FLES Summer Spanish Reading List Wow! Does such a thing exist? - Resources for your Spanish Classroom

By jreyes 5986 Views Leave a comment Go to comments
May 29

Pedro Urbina

Quick! Name a good book to read over the summer for your Spanish FLES students…

Sure, summer reading lists abound on the Internet for English books, but there aren’t as many for Spanish heritage speakers, and even fewer for emerging students of Spanish.

Why Is Summer Reading Important?

The importance of summer reading cannot be stressed enough. There is plenty of research referring to the “summer slide”, that period over the summer when students are not actively studying and tend to slow down academically. In some instances, they may actually fall behind for not practicing some of the reading skills gained over the school year. One study asserts that two-thirds of the 9th grade reading achievement gap is due to “unequal access to summer learning opportunities” (Alexander, Entwistle & Olsen, 2007).

This research is for native English speakers reading books in English. Just imagine what happens to your FLES students…

Of course, developing life-long reading habits and promoting reading for pleasure—whether in English or Spanish—starts at home and with engaged parents. As educators we can help in this process by preparing “summer Spanish reading packets” which include appropriate Spanish reading lists.

Readability, Leveling, and the FLES Student

“When picking out a book to read, be sure the book is at your level. Read a page and lift up a finger for every word you don’t know on that page. If you lift all five fingers, then it means that the readability level is too high, and the book is too advanced for you.” Does that sound familiar? It’s the five-finger rule that reading and language arts teachers generally teach their students when picking books for independent reading.

To determine readability in English, books are measured against leveling systems such as Fountas and Pinnell, Reading Plus, Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), or the Lexile Framework. These popular systems measure things such as words per line and per page, sentence complexity, syllable complexity, number of dolch words vs. academic vocabulary, and so on.

Meeting this requirement for FLES students is a little more complicated. Why? Because in FLES textbooks and FLES classrooms exposure to language, including vocabulary and grammatical structures, is more controlled. It has to be in order for a child to learn and practice the new language accurately and in a structured way. The fact is, most first-year FLES students will only actively work in the present tense and vocabulary will be limited to specific themes (such as animals) or tasks (such as school-related activities). Students who are lucky enough to use Descubre el español con Santillanamay also have been introduced to a variety of more cultural themes as well as the past and future tenses, opening a larger window of opportunity for a more comprehensive summer reading list.

Methodology for Developing a Summer Spanish Reading List

In an ideal world, a FLES grade-appropriate reading selection would meet some, if not most, of the criteria of the leveling systems I mention above, except for vocabulary and grammatical structures. These two items would need to be more controlled and very similar to what is taught in a FLES textbook.

This is precisely what one finds in these components ofDescubre el español con Santillana: Thematic Library, Anthology (beginner level), Phonics Readers (which include open syllables, and diphthongs and blends), and the classroom library. These are wonderful collections of books to use in your classroom but are probably not available in your local public library. Remember: an effective summer Spanish reading list has books available in libraries or bookstores, real or virtual.

So now what? Well, we go on to the next best thing: Adapt a leveling system to our needs. I decided to use Fountas and Pinnell because of its flexibility and because Santillana has already leveled their books using this system.

After a good deal of research and time, I propose using the following equivalency table when choosing books for a FLES summer Spanish reading list.

FLES GradeFountas and Pinnell Spanish Approximation Levels
1A, B, C
2C, D, E
3E, F, G, H
4I, J, K, L
5L, M, N, O

Those of you familiar with Fountas and Pinnell will at first glance say: “Hey, wait a minute, F&P level O for fifth grade? That can’t be, level O is for third grade…” Well... yes, that is so for native English speakers reading books for native English speakers. However, we are referring to FLES students with controlled Spanish, not Spanish heritage speakers.

The Lists

With this in mind, and knowing that nothing is perfect in this world, I happily submit for your approval these Santillana Summer Spanish Reading Lists for 2012. Remember to include them in your summer Spanish reading packets. Try them out with your students and let me know how it goes. For grades 1 and 2, you may want to have students read at least four books for summer reading. For grades 3, 4, and 5, I would suggest as many as seven or eight. Of course, encourage your students to read as many books as possible.

Librarians: Please be sure these books are on your shelves!








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"Books and movies are like apples and oranges. They both are fruit, but taste completely different."

- Stephen King

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