Great Books?

Our public library has a Steck-Vaughn workbook series based around history"greats" - great disasters, great mysteries, great heroes, etc. These are story-plus-exercise books that ranging in reading level from about 5 to 7. My learners love them.

I'm not sure why my learners like them. I ask them why, and they say "I don't know...." One ventured: "Because it makes you think. You gotta go back into the story to [find the answer]." I think they like them because each book has several, bite-sized stories - each one just enough to keep you engaged for 30 to 40 minutes. They learn new words, as well as pieces of history they've missed along the way. Too, there is a nice mix of close-ended and open-ended questions.

I don't always trust a learner's judgement. I'm not sure that an enjoyable book is the same as an effective book. Sometimes, I think, learners' quality world pictures of "going to school" involve them doing things that don't really help them get ready to write the GED tests.

But these books really aren't bad. I like the mix of reading, re-reading and writing they encourage. I also like that the learners picked them out from the library stacks. In this particular case, I borrowed them on my card: I wanted them to be available for everyone. Still, the learners understood that they could borrow them on their own if they chose, and that's another plank in scaffolding independent learning.

So, yeah, maybe these are great books after all.

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