Why We Should Be Reading To Children | Usborne English Readers Review*

Usborne English Readers are a series of English language books for young learners. If you watched my Instagram story, you will have seen me unbox a lovely selection of the Usborne English Readers books. Today, I’m sharing with you why they have been an invaluable resource in the classroom.

As teachers, we want to make sure we’re doing the best we can by the children in our class. We want to give them the best start possible. We want to see them grow and learn. We want to see them progress. We want to help them as much as we can.

But how can we do that?

As teachers, we’re always looking to keep ahead of the curve. Something to engage the children and keep them wanting to learn more. We want to enrich their minds with information that makes them crave more and more. We want them to succeed. We are their biggest cheerleaders. We want to keep it fresh and up-to-date. We’re constantly trying to keep up.

Usborne English Readers does just that.

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I found out about the Usborne English Readers books on Usborne and knew I had to get in touch with them. I knew the children in my class would adore them. The vibrant colours that bring those classics to life. Stories that I knew and loved from my childhood, I wanted to share them with my class in a whole new light. With beautiful illustrations that fill every page, the story comes to life.

My children are all avid readers. They have a desire and a passion to read and it’s so refreshing to see. Sure, they love YouTube just as much as the next child, but they still love a story. Their faces light up when a new book comes to the classroom so imagine their delight when each day they’ve been introduced to a new Usborne English Readers book. Their faces and eyes light up at the sight of a new book. It’s so heartwarming. These books are so loved by the children.

Usborne sent out all three levels of their Usborne English Readers, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. These books will grow with the different levels. Stories that my older children are enjoying now, will be perfect for the younger ones in a few years time. They will continue to be used and used because I know how much the children love them. They have responded so well to the Usborne English Readers books. They are able to keep up with the story, which is proven thanks to their comprehension activities at the back that we have done as a class.

Usborne English Readers Levels

Level 1: Elementary (CEFR A1)

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We have children from across the board of The Common European Framework of Reference. The A1 is the most popular and the biggest groups at the moment.

Usborne was kind enough to send us 6 of their 9 Level 1 books available.

  • Cinderella
  • The Emperor and the Nightingale
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Puss in Boots
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • The Gingerbread Man

The Level 1 books are typically around 800-1,200 words which are just long enough to keep their attention and not too difficult for them to keep up with. The stories are all well-loved fairy tale favourites that I recall from my childhood. I was so excited to read Beauty and the Beast to the children, so that was the first one we used.

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The stories come with a vocabulary list too which explains further in simplified terms what the word means which has been perfect for aiding explanation. Tools like these are so valuable in a classroom when you’re sometimes thrown into a question and you feel you can’t actually explain the word! Usborne has done the hard work creating definitions that are accessible for their level.

Another great aspect of the Usborne English Readers is you can actually access their Grammar Structures and expectations for the levels. It gives a clear guideline for what the children should know and understand for their level. You can view Level 1 guidelines here: Level 1 Grammar Structures

Level 2: Pre-intermediate (CEFR A2)

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We have a good amount of A2 students too. These are just as into reading as the A1 students. Just like the children, these books grow slightly to adapt to the needs and learning requirements of the children.

The Level 2 books are typically around 1,400-2,400 words, so they’re perfect for splitting between two classes to leave the children on a little cliffhanger, waiting and hoping for more reading and learning! The stories not only are longer fairy tales but also classics, myths and legends.

We were sent 3 of the 8 titles available and the children are absolutely loving them. We have the following:

  • Snow Queen
  • Pinocchio
  • The Phantom of the Opera

I was really excited to give these books a try. I was concerned as to whether The Phantom of the Opera might be too difficult for the children to understand, but they loved it. The illustrations and vocabulary list really helped them to understand the storyline and access the book successfully.

You can take a look at the grammar structures that students should know at Level 2 here: Level 2 Grammar Structures

Level 3: Intermediate (CEFR B1)

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We have a smaller amount of B1 students and finding things to keep them engaged can be difficult. Especially when they’re still such a young age, it can be hard to find books that are not too mature for them or too easy that it just doesn’t challenge them. That’s where Usborne English Readers comes in.

These books have been invaluable for my B1 children students. Challenging books that are suitable for their age range. They are truly the perfect books for B1 children students. I have found them an incredibly useful resource in the classroom.

The Level 3 books are typically around 3,000-3,600 words, which means they’ve been a great resource to use as a ten-minute activity at the end of the lesson. It’s great for winding down after some intense grammar sessions, whilst still encouraging English language structure learning in a more subtle and relaxed atmosphere. I’m able to find a suitable spot for the children to stop to be able to continue for the next lesson. They’ve been a great resource for a reward! “Finish this page and we can continue the book…” *sounds of pencils writing 100mph*. 

The stories are English language classics which are brought to life with the wonderful illustrations. We were kindly sent the following:

  • Romeo and Juliet
  • The Jungle Book
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Frankenstein

You can view the grammar structures for Level 3 here: Level 3 Grammar Structures

If you’re unsure what level you are, you can get your student or child to take the Usborne Online Test which will tell you which level book is appropriate: Usborne Online English Test

Are Usborne English Readers Worth Buying?

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Usborne English Readers are an exemplary resource for use both in the classroom and for independent reading. They have been built alongside an ELT expert, Peter Viney.

The books are all fantastically priced at just £6.99 a book. I never go to work without an Usborne English Readers book slipped inside my bag now. We keep them at home to keep them in the best condition.

Reading is incredibly important, not only reading to children but encouraging children to read out loud. I am a huge advocate of reading and would encourage anybody who is in direct contact with children to encourage them wherever possible to pick up and book and read.

Reading gives the foundation of language. It’s how we started as babies, as children, we loved listening to stories and bringing books to life. The core importance of reading stays with ESL children. Whether no level or on the European Framework, reading is important. It teaches the basis of the language and helps to build a basic grasp of a language. I guarantee, even the children who have not yet reached A1 will be copying words that you’re reading to them. They’ll see the brought to life illustrations and they’ll be soaking up the story and a few new words.

Reading supports speaking skills and helps to form social skills. It also builds their vocabulary. As the children have read through the Usborne English Languages books they have desired to learn more. They’ve asked what new words are and I’ve seen them use their new words in their writing and speech. The stories are instilled in them.

I’ve also used the books as a tool for listening. Reading the text and then testing their comprehension by asking simple questions. The illustrations are also useful for asking further questions to support their learning. “How many people are in this picture”, “What colour is this?” “Who is wearing the red dress?”, “What animal is this?”, “Where is The Beast now?”, “How is Romeo feeling now?”, “What is Cinderella doing?”. It’s great for testing their knowledge and using follow-up questions from the class.

How Can I buy Usborne Books?

You can purchase Usborne English Readers direct from their website if you’re in the UK and certain European countries. You find the book you’re interested in and click ‘Buy this book in UK and EU’ button.

There is a money back guarantee, which is a nice reassurance knowing you can send them back within 14 days for a full refund. But, I just know you’d love them as much as I do if you’re a teacher or have young children at home. VAT is also included in the online catalogue. The online shop is secure too!

Why I Love Usborne English Readers

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When did we last let a book transform a child into a world of fantasy and magic? With beautiful illustrations, the books really come to life. A world of fun and fantasy fills the classroom getting children keen and eager to learn English.

The stories are genuinely engaging for the children. They really do want you to turn just one more page. No matter how many times you tell them they have to wait until next time to find out what happens. They want to know now. They want just one more page, please! They get the children speaking, they get the children asking questions, they get the children wanting to practice more English.

I love that the books come with an audio version, in both American English and British English. They are a great resource to help bring the stories to life, plus gives us teacher a little break, even if it is just for a few minutes!

The children genuinely do sit and listen taking it all in. You see them soaking up the language and genuinely enjoying the story. It’s lovely to see their faces taking it all in. Watching their minds process it all.

I would one hundred per cent recommend investing in Usborne English Readers books for either within the classroom or at home with ESL children. I do believe they’d be perfect for native English children too.

The books come with a range of resources that can be used within the classroom or for home learning that capture the beauty of the story whilst aiding additional learning. The activities test comprehension and merge together the understanding of grammar and vocabulary. They also come with information about the story or the author plus a glossary of words. They really engage and involve the children whilst being a fun and rewarding activity.

I have been so impressed with our Usborne books. They arrived quickly and came well packaged. The books are professionally finished and they’re the type of books you want to display. They look interesting. They look like you want to pick them up and read them.

I have been really impressed with the accessibility of the books for our ESL learners. I would definitely purchase more books from Usborne the Usborne English Readers collection. I will definitely look into different collections from Usborne to use in the classroom after being so impressed with the Usborne English Readers collection.

Language learning is fun with Usborne English Readers.

Hasta luego,

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The books were gifted to me kindly from Usborne, however, views, photos and words are my own.

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Hola! I'm Lauren ("Loh - run") — A twenty-something, engaged, English girl living on the Costa Blanca, obsessed with travel, love and elephants.

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