English teachers tend to be creative. From making materials to use in class, to coming up with ways to explain vocabulary and grammar, they are constantly creating. Many teachers I have know have expressed interest in writing a textbook. I think every teacher has a textbook in them, but how about a graded reader?
I Talk You Talk Press was founded by two teachers who wanted their students to read more. At the institutions where we worked, students had access to libraries of graded readers, but they were not as extensive as we would have liked. We also taught adults, who didn’t have access to any graded readers, as the local libraries and local book shops didn’t have any. So, we started to write our own. We are both avid readers, and have been since childhood, so we were familiar with story structures. Actually, coming up with the story is the easy bit. The hard bit is grading the story. We grade our books to CEFR grammar levels, and we have our own vocabulary lists for each level. If you are planning on writing and publishing many books, and starting your own publishing company, like we did, then you need to think carefully about grading criteria. However, if your aim is just to write books for your students, then you can write to their levels. You probably know the level of each student more than anyone. When writing, ask yourself if your students would understand what you are writing, and adjust your grammar and vocabulary accordingly. One of the principles of extensive reading is that students don’t use a dictionary, so you should write something your students will be able to read easily.
When we wrote for our students, they were delighted, and eager to read the books we had written. As our students read more, we wrote more, and that was the beginning of the company we have become today – an award-winning publisher with 68 titles. We still have students read our books. We also ask them what they want to read. This feedback has been invaluable for us when planning our series.
Of course, you don’t have to publish your graded readers. You can print them out and keep them in your school, for your students to enjoy. If you choose to publish them, it is now very easy to do so. There are many print-on-demand companies you can use, and you can publish e-books easily. Most are free, so all it will cost you is your time and the fee for a cover image, which you can license from a stock images site. So if you have time, and are feeling creative, why not give it a go? Your students will love you for it, and you never know where it might lead.