Graded Readers: A critical overview and a plea
Liesel Hermes, Friday 15.30-16.00

Graded readers have been around for decades, and their merit seems to be undisputed as long as one refers to series of readers that vary in length, range of vocabulary and complexity of grammatical structures. Graded readers and their merits are, however, hotly debated when it comes to adapted titles. In other words: texts that are simplified versions of original literature and classics at that, are often denigrated as being poor diluted versions of the originals and should be avoided altogether for the sake of the authentic original.
My paper therefore tries to achieve two objectives: It aims to give a critical overview of existing series. These vary greatly in scope, thematic and linguistic levels and diversity, quality of illustrations, tasks and accompanying materials (such as CD-Roms) as well as contents. Some contain fiction as well as non-fiction. Some only offer originals in the sense that the texts have been specially written for the series. Some offer a mixture of originals and adapted classics. Some contain an extensive array of language tasks that are geared to preparing students for different exams (KET, PET etc.).
Most series, however, have merits that justify their use in class. They offer reliable and interesting graded reading material from CEF levels A1 to B2 for extensive reading and can accompany students through the years of Sekundarstufe I. My plea is therefore for extensive use of graded readers series and also of simplified originals of classical literature. Even if they vary in quality the quality of the stories themselves is beyond doubt. What should be scrutinized is common notions of authenticity. I will therefore critically analyze various definitions and will try to offer a concept of authenticity that is based on English didactic literature.

Prof. Dr. Liesel Hermes, President of the Paedagogische Hochschule Karlsruhe, member of various associations (IATEFL, TESOL, Anglistenverband, GAst), extensive publications on literature and the teaching of literature; research interests: professional development in teacher education, listening and reading in language learning, action research