Review ~ Penguin Disney Kids ReadersBeautiful visuals and Disney magic to engage young learners.
This is a fantastic series of readers. I love them. However, let me continue this review in a more constructive light …
There are 23 books in the series and I feel they provide a nice mixture of traditional fairytales (Cinderella, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, etc) and more modern film samples (Toy Story, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, etc). These book are undoubtedly catering to the interests and enthusiasms of YLs (young learners) today and the bright visuals and links to popular films should ensure these readers are a hit with students.
There are six levels, offering a path of progression from the very start of learning English to entry to CEF A1++ and I felt the language used in the stories at each level corresponded well to student ability. There are 14-36 pages of story, depending on level. If anything, the stories are so long by L6 that maintaining children’s interest while reading over a series of classes could be challenging.
The books are supplemented, or enhanced really, by mp3 recordings and teacher’s factsheets, downloadable from Pearson’s website. If I had any criticism it would be that these recordings lack sound effects. For example, instead of the storyteller simply saying “Dong”, a gong or chime would have added more meaning to the word. The pace of the reading is generally good and level appropriate, although the Level 1 readers are somewhat over-enunciated and, I feel, lacking naturalness in their reading.
If at first glance the exercises accompanying the readers appear limited, with just 1-2 pages at the back of the book, go online. Each book has downloadable worksheets, easily accessible through the Pearson website, with between 10 and 14 pages of teacher’s notes and supporting materials such as keyword definitions, useful information, exercises and activities. The target vocabulary and grammar are clearly highlighted for the teacher’s reference. A factsheet is supplied including a story summary, film summary, background information and characters, keywords and themes. Several activity suggestions are made for while-reading and post-reading, and in places there are templates to cut out and use, as well as other helpful resources.
There are 5-20 keywords per story, with all the readers of the same level drawing on a similar mix of grammar points. Grammar covered at Level1 includes the Present Simple, Yes/No questions and short answers, Wh questions, adjectives and prepositions. By contrast, Level 6 looks at areas such as the Present Perfect simple, the Past Continuous, Reported Speech and Phrasal Verbs. One comment worth making is that these readers draw on American English.
I really enjoyed reading these books, so I have no doubt that young learners and their teachers alike will thorough enjoy using these readers! They’re well-presented, interesting, inspiring and offer excellent language learning opportunities. Thank you Pearson and Disney!