Book Resources

Using Big Books to Boost English-Language Learners Literacy Skills

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

Shared reading and the use of big books are effective ways to teach first language learners to read (Anderson, 1995). Strategies used to teach reading in primary education are effective to use with learners who are developing new language literacy (Nambiar, 1991). Foreign language and English as Another Language teachers recognize theĀ  use of shared reading and big books as successful strategies for improving the literacy skills of their English-language learners.

A Coke of His Own

Reading is one of the greatest sources of input for leaning a new language (Barnett, 1989). Using big books makes new language learning a fun and meaningful experience for both children and teachers. Big books typically use predictable texts, allowing readers to use their prior knowledge to identify words that come next in a sentence, as well as rhythm, rhyme, and repetition, all of which aid word recognition and identification.


Shared reading is a teaching strategy that is intended to replicate the intimate effects of lap-reading in the family by (Vacca et al., 2003; Holdaway, 1979). Shared reading is an important component of a balanced early literacy program. The use of an enlarged text allows children to see the print while it is being pointed to and read by the teacher. Students begin to make the association between oral and written language.

i Spy

To learn more about best practices for using shared reading and big books with your English-language learners, read the complete article, Using Big Books: A Standards-Based Instructional Approach for Foreign Language Teacher Candidates in a PreK-12 Program, by Susan Colville-Hall and Barbara O'Connor.

  • Subjects:
    Bilingual Education, ESL and ELL, Literacy, Literature Appreciation, Teacher Tips and Strategies

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