Humour In Easy-to-Read Adult Readers

The last of the Grass Roots Press book order arrived, bringing the three new titles from PRACE Page Turner Series. Yay! (Back story here.)

I haven't read The Dentist yet: it got borrowed, and then taken home, the same day I opened the parcel. I did get to read Shut Up Steve and Peanuts with one of my learners.*

One of the things I like about these books is their willingness to use natural language - contractions or words like "Hmm" - in their stories. That night, a question around contractions led to a useful 15 minute discussion about spelling and how contractions work, as well as a fierce debate between facilitators of the relative merits of "we're not" vs. "we aren't."

The new books also retained that wonderful Page Turner humor.**

I noticed the humor because I saw that my learner could see what was coming: she started to laugh aloud even as the comedic situation unfolded. This was a nice example of using prediction in reading comprehension, and made me wonder about the value of a humorous plot. Or maybe of a strong plot in general. Does it pull the reader forward? Does their interest in what's happening add to their fluency of comprehension, their ability to predict the next word or phrase?

(I'm someone who always reads ahead silently when reading aloud. Is that common? I also read "too fast" when things get exciting, missing details in my eagerness to see what happens next, and then next.)

Her laughing also told me something about her independent reading level. Readers who are dealing with a too-hard text, word by word, don't seem to have the "extra" mental reserves for thinking about what's funny or scary or exciting. (This is the difference between reading vocabulary and reading comprehension.) She did, and so that means these level 2 books were well within her independent reading range. And that means it's time to use level 3 books in our shared instructional reading.

* There's a difference between the titles available through Canada's Grass Roots Press, and those listed for sale on the PRACE (Australia) webpage. The Frontier College New Readers Bookstore (Canada) does not yet carry these titles - I don't know about the Proliteracy New Readers Press in the U.S.

** About the authors, from the Page Turner website:

The authors of this collection one day realised they'd had enough of the lack of fun, interesting, easy-to-read stories for "completely beginning" adult readers.

So these teachers produced this collection mainly to meet the needs of their students.

Anne Dunn, Chris Malakar and Moira Hanrahan have worked in many settings, and are very experienced in High Schools, Community Schools, Language Centres, TAFE & Community Education Centres.

Currently all three are working at Preston Reservoir Adult Community Education.

Anne and Chris are largely responsible for "English at the Beach" which is now online! A range of stories and information texts written for learners of English as a second language at intermediate levels.

Anne is also a successful and popular writer outside of Material Galz - take a look at

PageTurners [] [by (c) Material Galz] [in association with Preston Reservoir Adult Community Education - PRACE] [PO Box 510 Reservoir, Vic., 3073]


Ginny Hooper said...

Can't wait to see/read them!

{via Facebook / Networkedblogs}

Wendell said...

Okay... but only because you took my side on the "is 'aren't' a word" argument - LOL


OzGrace said...

ic"Readers who are dealing with a too-hard text, word by word, don't seem to have the "extra" mental reserves for thinking about what's funny or scary or exciting. ":-

this is a bit like my mother, who is learning again to use an iMac online, after being retired for about 5 years and having a stroke during that time.

when i send her a funny email, she doesn't laugh when she reads it. when i send her beautiful pictures in a powerpoint, she doesn't appear to have any sensual appreciation in looking at them.

i know this because she can't yet open them (especially if they have attachments) without me going to where she lives and opening them up for her!

so i have seen her responses.

i think she is so pre-occupied withh her anxiety about observing/learning HOW TO DO IT that she has no spontaneous responses available....

it's sad.

btw, wendell, the most recent and most beautiful powerpoint i recently saw and sent to her was of an area i had never heard of before, which must be somewhere near you: the thousand islands...have you been there?

Wendell said...

The 1,000 Islands are about 20 hours west of me - a lot closer than you, but still pretty far.

That's an interesting story you related: changing the medium can leave people stranded for a time when they're forced to concentrate on the medium rather than the message.

Somewhere I heard this described as cognitive vs associative tasks. The claim was we can do many associative tasks at once, but only one cognitive task at a time. I don't think I believe that, but it's an interesting frame.

Stay well! :)

awoodbury said...

ProLiteracy/New Readers Press does not carry these titles, but they do have many books with wonderful, humorous stories by Ann Gianola. Her newest series is called "Novel Scenes" and is written in chapter style, following a single character throughout. Others like "That's Life" and "Life Goes On" deal with high-interest, everyday topics.

Wendell said...

Thanks for that. It can be confusing with different titles being available in different regions. I'll being putting Ann Gianola's books on my short-list of things to check out.


Anonymous said...

Hi, this is my very first blogging experience. I really like your blog and wanted to comment on your Page Turner Series. I had no idea that these resources existed but I would like to get them for the LBS adult program I work at. Keeping a bit of humor around helps everyone to relax and learn. I like your blog, it is easy to read navagate around. I have been floundering around a few blogs and finally landed here. I work in Ontario and am working towards the Teachers of Adult Certificate. The course I am in currently is called "Professional Pathways in Adult Literacy" and my first PD assignment was to go blogging. It hasn't been the easiest thing for me...just another password to remember!! Seems I never have enough time to blog but it is the way of the future. I am a day late submitting but I can report on your blog and tell others about it. Thanks, later.

Wendell said...

Thanks Anon!

But hey, no worries! Look at how much you wrote in that comment about the challenges of beginning to blog. Add a picture, and you've got a post. It's just that easy.

Best wishes!