Student book reviews

We are now publishing honest reviews by students about language learning novels that they have read and love. Any of the novels published for language learners are appropriate, as long as the student truly enjoyed reading the novel. We ask that students submit their reviews to their teachers, who will then submit the reviews to our website after having verified that the reviews follow these guidelines:

(1) Reviews can be short, 50-100 words, in either English or the target language. We ask that students please be specific in their praise: who was their favorite character, what was their favorite scene, perhaps a phrase like “If you like _____, then you’ll love this book”. Please avoid major plot spoilers.

(2) Please include a photo of the student holding the book that they are reviewing. Include their first name if you would like that published, but it is not necessary.

(3) This is a moderated space for students to brag about their favorite reads. If you do not like a book, please do not submit a review. The purpose of the reviews is to help other students find books that they might enjoy.

(4) We do have the ability to upload student book talks on video. Use an iphone or camera app on a computer to take a short video, then send it to me at the address below. Please be sure that there is nothing in the background that directly identifies the school.

(5) Teachers: you must receive permission from the student’s legal guardian before submitting the review. While the student will only be identified on the website by first name, a legal guardian must give explicit permission to post the student’s photo and review. At no point should the student be identified, so it is the teacher’s responsibility to secure and retain the permission.

(6) Teachers: I hope to get reviews that honestly communicate students’ enthusiasm for particular books, nothing fake. Therefore, please do not assign reviews or provide extra credit for the review. Participation must be voluntary and sincere.

(7) We will also accept reviews from adults. If you are a teacher with enthusiasm for a particular language learning novel, feel free to write a review.

(8) Authors: We also welcome video book trailers. Please clearly indicate that you are the author.

As we transition the front page of this website to student reviews, the left margin will be replaced with a list of all books reviewed. All of the reviews of each book will be connected by a link in the margin, so eventually if you want to preview a certain book with your class, all you have to do is click on the title and several reviews from real students will pop up.

Please send reviews to the following email address and include the phrase “CI READING” in the subject line:

La lucha de la vida

Another novel by Jennifer Degenhardt!

I have not read this one yet but it looks great! Jennifer’s CI novels deal with real issues that adolescents experience, weaving in cultural information with an identifiable teen problem in such a way that the reader bonds with her characters. Here is the description of the book on

After years of living with uncertainty, first with his mother and then in foster care, J.P.’s life is finally becoming more predictable, routine and even comfortable. Now that he is living with his father, his stepmother and his two half-sisters, J.P. finally has the opportunity to learn more about himself. As a fan of professional wrestling that he views on TV, he decides to pursue that sport at his new school. What he is not nearly as keen on is the idea of studying, mostly because it’s hard for him. Nevertheless, he resolves to do well enough to ensure eligibility for participation on the wrestling team, as his sights are set on winning a state championship that year. J.P.’s father, Juan, is also learning. He is learning how to contend with the challenges that come with raising a teenager. Juan tries to better understand the son who recently came to live with him and attempts to connect with him further by letting J.P. know that he, too, was once a wrestler back in Mexico, a luchador mexicano. Wrestling serves as the topic of most of the father/son conversations as they get to know each other better at this stage of their lives – conversations that are peppered with J.P. constantly reminding his father of the desire to get his driver’s license as soon as he turns 16. But there is a problem, one J.P. knows nothing about, and one that Juan hopes can be fixed before his son finds out. In this novel, readers are presented with a wealth of vocabulary and grammatical structures while delving into family and social issues. The cultural component is that of Mexican wrestling – la lucha mexicana.

La Familia de Federico Rico – SUPER EASY level 1 reader

Click on picture to go to the author´s website
Have you noticed how awesomely easy to read are the novels by Craig Klein Dexemple? I have not read this one yet, but in my mind this author is trustworthy to promote without having read. In addition, this book has over 200 illustrations and the author’s students report that it is among the easiest to read novels in his classroom library. Hey, level 3 students LOVE easy to read novels. Follow this link to take a closer look at the novel on Craig´s website.

A.C. Quintero´s novels for low-level readers

A.C. Quintero has a knack for writing really interesting plots, tightly designed for low-level readers. It is rare to find reading for level 1 that feels like easy reading. However I recommend adding these readers to an FVR library for all levels, because even heritage learners are going to enjoy the awkward social situations in these books.

Here are the links to purchase on Amazon:
La clase de confesiones
La bella mentira
Casi me mata el celular

Follow this author on Twitter: @klasekastellano

To be clear: I never receive compensation for recommending books. That is obvious I hope, but I just wanted to throw that out there! -Mike Peto

Los Sobrevivientes by Bryan Kandel

A new independently published novel for level 3 and above
Last year I was offered an opportunity to test out a draft of Bryan Kandel´s new novel in my level 3 classes. I presented it to my students as a choice reading option for the end of the year. Among the students who chose to read Los Sobrevivientes, they were really into it! The novel is a gripping action story based on the true story of a plane full of Uruguayan rugby players which crashed in the Andes on its way to Santiago de Chile. Presumed dead, two men decide that they must hike their way out– without mountain climbing supplies, food, or even a clear idea of where exactly they were.

This book appeals to intermediate and advanced readers who are looking for a good action story full of courageous moments, tough decisions and ultimately an inspiring message. Great reading for heritage learners as well. Click here to check out the book trailer and additional teaching resources that Bryan has posted on his website.

To be clear: I never receive compensation for recommending books. That is obvious I hope, but I just wanted to throw that out there! -Mike Peto

Two short stories by Bill VanPatten

The short story for intermediate learners of Spanish that is sweeping the nation. “Ángel” is the story of 19-year old Diego Torres who harbors a secret until circumstances force him to reveal what he’s hiding. Poignant, timely, and defying stereotypes and genres,Ángelis the story that every student in Spanish should read.

Elena is a seventeen-year old girl who claims to hear the Virgin’s voice. Concerned, her parents and priest think it’s wise to put her under psychiatric care. But does Elena really belong in a clinic? As in VanPatten’s first story, “Ángel”, this story defies stereotypes and takes us into the mind of an intelligent teenager.Elenais a story that hits all the right notes for students of Spanish, consisting of nine segments plus a short prologue and a short epilogue. It is just the right length for students of intermediate Spanish.

Click here to see more independently published books in Spanish that would be good for a CI classroom

TRES FABULAE HORRIFICAE – A CI graphic novel in Latin!

Three tales of ghouls, ghosts, and gruesome deeds in graphic format in Latin! The stories are designed for the intermediate Latin student with limited vocabulary and grammar to ensure readability. In addition, the book contains a full glossary, grammatical index and description of the historical setting of each story. Learn Latin through compelling reading. Click here to read more and see samples from the book or click here to buy it from Amazon.

Click here to see more independently published CI novels in Latin

La niñera by Jennifer Degenhardt

If being in the minority in a particular demographic isn’t demanding enough, Yamila discovers a family secret that threatens to derail the success she has encountered thus far at her competitive high school, even given the economic challenges confronted by her and her family. Experience the trials that Yamila faces in contrast to the seemingly carefree life of her best friend, Ashley, as the two characters illustrate their differences all while maintaining their relationship. La Niñera is a common story, but one rarely told in accessible Spanish. As a level-two reader, students of Spanish have access to rich vocabulary, a review of the present tense and an introduction to the past tenses in context through a story whose cultural content also presents topics worthy of discussion.

Two new novels: El Entierro by Adriana Ramirez & La espía huérfana by Andrew Snider

El Entierro is a short Spanish novel written for third/fourth year Spanish students. It has a glossary in the back, arranged by chapters, so the reader can easily access those words that are new and specific to the story. In Latin America there are lots of myths and legends that are part of our oral traditions. This story is inspired by some of them. “Amalia Mosquera es una joven enfermera que acaba de alquilar una casa vieja en el pueblo. Rápidamente se da cuenta que ella no es la única que vive en la casa. Hay alguien más, que la sigue a todos lados y no la deja en paz. ¿Podrá ella vivir en esa casa por mucho tiempo? O ¿Se cansará y se irá rápido, como lo han hecho todos los que han vivido antes allí?

After the tragic death of her parents, Violeta struggles to adjust to her new life in San Diego. Her life takes an intriguing turn when she receives a mysterious letter warning that she is in grave danger. When she learns that one of the world’s most wanted criminals has escaped from prison and is looking for her, it will take more than courage to survive. La espía huérfana was written for Spanish language learners and contains a glossary of over 250 words to help keep the text compelling and comprehensible. Recommended for students level 2 and above. It was written with a TPRS © classroom setting in mind.