A letter from Mrs. Wall’s Class in Utah

From a student in Utah

Do you want to write a letter to the author of your favorite language learning novel?
See the guidelines here!


Book trailer: Los sobrevivientes

Do you want to write a letter to the author of your favorite language learning novel?
See the guidelines here!


Book trailer: Noches misteriosas en Granada


Do you want to write a letter to the author of your favorite language learning novel?
See the guidelines here!


Student review of Las Lágrimas de Xochitl and Los Sueños de Xochitl

Helen from California
Señora Hildebrandt,
Soy una estudiante de la Señora E—–. Soy en la clase de Espanol Uno, y yo me gusto a leer tu libros, Los Lágrimas de Xochitl, y Los Sueños de Xochitl. Me gusto los persona en la historia, y yo quiero leer más sobre de Xochitl, Aztin, y la otra personas de San Felipe. Por Favor escribe más libros en la serie. Yo quiero se que ocurre despues Xochitl salva las personas para la chupacabras. Xochitl es una muchacha muy interesante, y yo quiero leer más sobre ella.
Muchas Gracias,

The author responds:

OMG,,\… I’m certain that I cannot speak (or see for the tears in my eyes) at this time. Thank you X 100 for sharing this with me. It is so important to get feedback! To author novels is like going through a very difficult childbirth, and I am currently working on summoning strength to unfold my next ones. Your note could not have come at a better time! I need the strength to make these books happen. Thank you SO much.

Virginia Hildebrandt

Do you want to write a letter to the author of your favorite language learning novel?
See the guidelines here!


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 with their first name & the state in which they live.

(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 and state in which they live, a legal guardian must give explicit permission to post the students 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 Amazon.com:

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 Estatua by Jeremy “Señor” Jordan

This review is being reposted with permission from Maris Hawkin´s blog:

Although I wasn’t at ACTFL, one of my favorite Latin teachers was there, so of course I sent her a long list of new books to buy me to add to my FVR library. I was so excited to see that Señor Jordan on YouTube has written a new book called La Estatua. It is a brand new book, and I was hooked. I loved it for many reasons:

  • The illustrations were great! It would be easy to discuss the pictures alone if you were going to read it as a class. You could also just put some up around the room to pique student interest before putting it into your FVR rotation. When you get a new book in your library, make sure that you do a little “promotion” of the book. You could easily copy a few pictures, do a picture talk of them and then add it to your library.

  • The Mexican culture embedded into the novel was great and felt natural. One point, they have huevos rancheros. I also appreciated how Lola refers to her father as Apá. Jeremy also manages to discuss the weather patterns of Mexico without it seeming awkward. The story also revolves around the story of chac mool and the myths around it.
  • I also felt like the language itself seemed more natural. Since it was made for level 2, the words didn’t seem as repetitive. Some of the Spanish readers that I have read rely upon a lot of cognates, but this book did not. (Not that it didn’t seem comprehensible! The word count is around 300 new words.)
  • As far as grammar, the story is predominantly in the present tense with some past tense scattered throughout the book.
  • I appreciate a new voice in comprehensible novels. Just like with regular novels, some students will naturally drift to certain authors because they like the way that they write. Jeremy’s voice provides an great addition to an already amazing cast of authors. Plus, Jeremy is so popular with many students, so that may engage some reluctant readers.
  • I would say that the book is a bit scary, so if you have students who do not like scary books, I would be cautious. As I have noted before, I don’t love scary books, but I wasn’t too scared. For me, it was more engaging than scary. I would not use it in Middle School unless I knew that I had a group of students who were really into scary stories. You could easily use it in High School. Also, another note, I have read El Ekeko, and I am planning on using it with my level 1 class at the end of the year. I found some similarities with these two books. I wouldn’t teach both in the same year; however, if you have a student who loves El Ekeko, I would buy this book as a great follow-up book. (Same thing goes, if you have a student who loved La Estatua, I would encourage you to purchase El Ekeko to continue on a similar theme and for students to read during FVR.) It would also be interesting to create literature circles with either book, and then have students compare and contrast the novels at the end. I highly recommend adding this book to your library/class novel rotation! Let me know if you have any questions about it.
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    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.