Incorporating Diverse Comprehension-Based Novels to Support Language Acquisition Through Reading

Marcia Davis, OFLA Diversity Committee & Secondary Language Learning Committee Chair
Assistant Principal, World Language Middle School, Columbus City Schools

Comprehension-based novels are a powerful part of the second language classroom. “The Comprehension Hypothesis” of Dr. Stephen Krashen’s Second Language Acquisition Theory says that we acquire language when we are able to understand what we hear or read. 

As with many novels, when the content of what we read is of high interest, the opportunity to acquire language is great. The world language classroom is no exception. For many years, many learners have been relegated to reading selections in textbooks and their ancillary materials. Through the years, the characters in most of those selections have been centered around people who may not necessarily look like the students in your classroom or their experiences, which may be different from those of your students. It is important to help our students see and hear about the experiences from a diverse group of people to allow them to connect to others and to recognize that though we may have different backgrounds and cultural experiences, we do have things in common. It is also important for all of us to acknowledge the biases we may have, especially when they hinder our interactions with others. What a tremendous opportunity we as language educators can offer our students through reading and conversation about a variety of topics in the target language!

As more world language educators learn of the power of reading in their classrooms, we are seeing a more representative body of authors arise to share their unique contributions, drawn from their authentic experiences, available to all. One such author is Jade Greene, a Spanish teacher from North Carolina.

Her inaugural novel is titled, Sueño hecho realidad. This comprehension-based novel presents an African-American high school student’s journey as she deals with the microaggressions that she faces at school. In this text, readers learn more about who Denise is and how she grapples with figuring out how to handle these situations with her teachers and her classmates. Use of high-frequency vocabulary and a captivating theme makes Sueño hecho realidad a valuable addition to your classroom library.

Sueño hecho realidad articulates Denise’s concerns and helps to validate the frequent challenges experienced by many African-American students. This novel has a timely message that will capture the attention of students regardless of race or ethnicity, and provides a tactful, thought-provoking approach to developing resolutions to similar situations.
Sueño hecho realidad, published by WaysidePublishing, is written in Spanish and is geared toward the Novice Mid/Intermediate Low proficiency level.