I got a lovely comment recently from a teacher asking which book follows Six Stories from Hope Street, so I thought I’d list the ESL Extras reading books in order of difficulty, starting from the easiest…


Prelim and literacy

Welcome to Hope Street (Prelim) is a ‘prequel’ to the Hope Street stories, specifically for preliminary or literacy learners who are only reading at sentence level.



If you have beginners who can say and read some basic personal ID sentences, then I’d start with Maybe Next Year (Beginner A) and perhaps the freebie book My Job is the Best as a follow up if they need more practice at this level. These books are set in the imaginary Hope Street, so readers can meet familiar and new characters.

For beginners who are learning simple past tense and can follow a short narrative, the choice would be Six Stories from Hope Street (Beginner B)

 If this works well, next in the Hope Street series is a ‘mini-novel’ in 6 chapters, The Garage Sale (Beginner C).


Moving on to Post-beginner and beyond

For strong beginners or new post-beginners, Can You Keep a Secret? is a mini-novel in 16 chapters, to be read two at a time. It’s about the same level linguistically as The Garage Sale, but there are several narrative threads and more ‘what do you think he should do?’ topics to discuss.

Can You Keep a Secret? isn’t set in Hope Street, but is similar in tone. I originally wrote it as a follow-up to Life is full of Surprises, published by NCELTR, and chose the label ‘elementary’ as that’s what they used.

For post-beginners, The Coat is another mini-novel in 16 chapters (to be read two at a time). It could also be a ‘light read’ for intermediate learners, offering some grammar and language review.


Fiction or non-fiction?

These graded readers are all intended for intensive reading in an ESOL/EAL classroom, with discussion and follow-up activities: if your students would rather read non-fiction, you might look at the range of three-level reading books and workbooks from Hazel Davidson and Dorothy Court at Sugarbag on Damper, like A Very Big Countryor at intermediate level, People in Australia’s Past, from Susan Boyer at Boyer Education.


Intensive or Extensive Reading?

You might also be doing extensive reading (ER) where the focus is on reading for pleasure, with just ‘book club’ discussion afterwards. If so, keep in mind Karen Barber’s Carly and Kumar series (short funny stories set in Australia, from Read Me Again Press).

I love the idea of ER, but keep in mind that it’s ideal for learners to be reading books that are not too challenging. This is where you might recommend Maybe Next Year to a strong beginner, or The Garage Sale to a post-beginner, to help them get a sense of “This is easy!”


I hope that helps…