Books and Reading

Speaking: Discussion Questions

Download the questions as a .pdf (for printing) or
copy and paste them (for editing) from the list below.
See this post for 10 ideas on how to use these discussion questions.

  • What’s the last book you read?
    • What was it about?
    • Do you recommend it?
  • How do you normally choose which book to read?
  • Which genre do you like reading most?
  • Do you prefer reading books or watching films based on books? Why?
  • Have you ever read a novel that was based on a video game or a film?
  • What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?
  • Who are your favourite authors?
  • Have you ever read a book in English?
  • Do you tend to prefer novels, short stories or some other kind of writing?
  • If you could choose 5 books to take with you to a desert island, which ones would you take? Why would you take them?
  • When do you usually read books?
  • Is there a particular kind of book you like to read in bed? Which kind?
  • Did you grow up surrounded by books?
  • What makes a good reader, in your opinion?
  • Have you ever belonged to a reading group?
  • What do you do with books when you’ve finished reading them?
  • How many hours a week do you spend reading?
  • How can reading help you learn English?
  • Are you happy reading books on a computer screen or an eReader?
  • Do you think paperbacks and hardbacks will disappear as everyone goes online?

Listening: Online Interviews

General Interview Resources

  • The Interview Online
  • Audio and video interviews with authors, playwrights and other creative artists – usually those working in the UK.

  • Voices from the Archive
  • Large collection of BBC Interviews with creative artists.

    Particular Interviews

  • Five Minutes With… Philip Pullman
  • BBC five-minute interview with the author of the fabulous series of (ostensibly) children’s books, His Dark Materials. Pullman discusses his favourite books and films, what it means to be a storyteller and touches on his atheistic worldview. You can see the full list of these great, short interviews here.

  • “Novelists Defend Human Values”
  • BBC interview with Alaa Al Aswany, who talks about the unfolding political situation in Egypt and the point of novel-writing and -reading.

  • The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor
  • His daily podcasts, stories and poems.

Listening: Audio Books

    Audio Books and Stories

  • Impressive collection of human-read audio books, from short stories to philosophy.

  • LibriVox
  • Exciting if idealistic project to turn every public domain book into a human-read audio book. Browse their current collection, or volunteer to narrate a book. Note that your students could collaborate to add to this ever-expanding collection – for example, by reading out a short story.

  • Lit2Go
  • Free audio books.

  • The Moonlit Road
  • Spoken and written Southern USA ghost stories.

  • Storyline Online
  • Children’s stories read by (famous) members of the US Screen Actors’ Guild.

Reading: Online Articles

Here are some interesting (and, hopefully, semi-permanent!) online articles I’ve found. Have a look through and see if there’s one that might interest your class. If you have any other suggestions about more sites or articles I could include here, please let me know.

Reading: Online Books, Stories and “Choose Your Own” Adventures

    Online Books

  • Bibliomania
  • “More than 2,000 classic texts” to read online.

  • Google Books UK
  • Your students can read these online or sometimes download them.

  • Project Gutenberg
  • Out-of-copyright classics to read online or download.

    Choose Your Own Adventure Stories

  • Castaway
  • Simple but fun text-based adventure story: can you escape from a desert island? Probably suitable for low-intermediate+ levels.

  • Klondike: Rush for Gold
  • Become a gold prospector in this text-based game from the Virtual Museum of Canada. Probably suitable for intermediate+ levels.

  • The Caves of Mull
  • Written by high school students in Perth, Australia, with plenty of “death, destruction and treasure” in store! Probably best with upper-intermediate+ students.

Writing: Online Collaborative Activities

    Collaborative Story Writing

  • Protagonize
  • Collaborative story-writing, with private “rooms” where your class can work together. Requires free, online registration.

  • WetPaint
  • Your class can create their own choose your own adventure story with this easy-to-use Wiki. Larry Ferlazzo has some excellent advice on how to create choose your own adventure stories here.

    Book Reviewing

  • AllReaders.Com
  • Good site encouraging users to write more detailed book reviews, thinking about plot, setting, character and writing style.

  • Ubiquitous online bookseller; has a vast collection of books to review, and (for some students) the extra motivation of being very widely read.

    Creating Animated Films of Scenes from Books

    Your students can use the websites below to (collaborate to) make their own animated films (with text and/or audio accompaniment) of favourite scenes from books they’ve read, which can then be shared online or simply with the class.

  • Dvolver
  • Voki
  • Xtranormal

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