Penguin Readers

I’m a big fan of graded reader or easy reader books.  When I was starting learning Spanish and Italian they were an important part of my exposure to authentic contextualised vocabulary.  I also really enjoy reading so these books were an excellent way of combining two hobbies.  I often tell students that they should find reading material related to their hobbies to develop their awareness of language conventions and get more exposure to the target language.


Don Camillo was a graded reader book which I fondly remember from studying Italian at university.  He is a fairly well known character in Italy, possibly a little dated now, but it introduced me to a popular cultural figure who has starred in a number of films and even a BBC television series.  I remember Lola Lago as the accompanying audio really helped develop my listening skill as well.  It’s a mystery story and was suitably interesting to keep me listening and then read again.

I try to get my students to read these types of books.  They are widely available in local book stores and are produced by the largest publishers, including the Cambridge English Readers from Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press Graded Readers.

Pearson’s Penguin Readers also come in graded formats and there are freely available sample chapters on the website.  To gain access you need to create an account – it’s free.


I currently have a pre-intermediate class which I would like to introduce to these types of books.  The samples on offer for this level include the following:


After carefully reading and listening to all of the material, I’ve decided to use the Braveheart sample with this particular class.  There are two audio files for the two introductory chapters and I can get more use out of it.  The theme is also more accessible for this particular class.

There is also a download area with worksheets offering activities for various chapters in the books.