How to use Penguin Readers in the classroom

The Penguin Readers series offers a range of graded readers for non-native learners of English from around the globe. There is a range of books that includes non-fiction for the more reluctant readers, history, thrillers, contemporary fiction and popular classics. A real choice for teachers and students alike.

Reading in a foreign language can be a daunting task and the Penguin Readers have been created with this in mind. The books have been adapted according to the CEFR and include excellent resources that can be used by the teacher and the students in the classroom.
Let’s have a look in more detail:

People in the Story Page

Me Before You

In each book with characters, as you can see from the examples above, there is a page with the key characters. This helps set the scene of the characters in the book and can be used in a variety of way.

  1. Pre-reading
    Elicit as much information as possible from the learners about the characters. Use the pictures to discuss the key characters and talk about their roles in the story. At this stage, it is a tool to encourage predictions and increase student interaction prior to reading the book.
  2. Whilst reading.
    Go back to the picture page after reading a page or a chapter and discuss in more detail the role of each character. It can also be used to compare the relationships between each character. The visuals are a fantastic prompt to help learners recall information from the book.
    Encourage learners to think of key adjectives or key words to place next to each character on the people in the story page. This is an excellent study skill to help learners really think about each character in detail. If you do not want learners to write in the book, then place the visuals or just the names of the characters around the class and do it as a class activity or a mingling task.
  3. Post–reading
    Use the pictures of each character to concept check ideas from the class. This is ideal to elicit information from learners before a writing task or extended work on the book. It is a useful consolidation task to help learners remember key scenes from the book.

New Words Page

Me Before You

This page can be used in a variety of ways depending on the learners, learning styles and aims of the task.

  1. Pre-teaching vocabulary
    Pre-teaching certain key words or phrases can be useful prior to reading. Use the New Words page to think about the key words from the book, encourage learners to use an English English dictionary and read the definitions of each key word.
  2. Elicit
    Use the key words as a starting point to elicit definitions from the learners. Even if they do not know all of the words, it is a useful speaking activity.
  3. Give students a set of laminated definitions for the words, they need to match them appropriately.
  4. Use the page whilst reading or post reading to concept check overall understanding of each word.
  5. Use the page post reading, ask learners to come up with an oral or written summary of the book using each word from the page.


Me Before You

The glossary page can be used in a variety of ways. It can be used post reading as a consolidation activity for the learners. The repetition of new words is essential for students, the glossary is an effective tool for repetition and useful to read before doing extended activities on the book.


  • Cut up the definitions and words and laminate them, ask students to match them correctly.
  • Give half the class the definition on a post it note and half the class the key words, use this as a mingling activity, the learners have to mingle and match the correct definitions and words.
  • Put the class into groups, one learner has to read out a definition and the others have to use a buzzer to buzz in when they know the correct word for the definition.
  • Tell learners to refer to the glossary at all times whilst reading the book and use it like a dictionary.

Tips for using Penguin Readers

  • Most of the lower level graded readers are supported with visuals. Visuals can really help learners connect with the text and help their overall understanding.
  • Each book has a short introduction to the text, this can be extremely useful to present the main ideas of the book before looking specifically at reading the whole book. Often small chunks of text as an introduction can help learners grasp key ideas before they read numerous pages.
  • Comprehension questions directly follow the text, this can be used as a whole class activity or group activities to discuss key content from the book. It is an ideal way to elicit information from the learners and concept check their overall understanding.
  • Project pages and essay questions are included in higher level books, this is useful for teachers.


In summary, the readers have been written with the teacher and student in mind. There is a range of useful pages that can help the learners at every stage of their reading. They also provide teachers with additional resources. So, find a reader that is suitable for the level of the learners and think about topics that will interest them, there is range to suit every taste! Do not forget to look at the lesson plans that are additional resources full of stages of lessons and ideas for teachers.


Download Lesson Plans
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