ESL teacher books

5 ESL Teacher Books that Make Great Book Studies

ESL educators have multiple responsibilities to successfully support English language learners. To keep up with these responsibilities teachers must continue learning and growing as professionals in the ESL field. We often find ourselves looking for ESL book recommendations that can help enhance our ability to provide high quality instruction and services to ELLs.

picture of women with books

As an ESL coordinator, I have book studies as part of my school district ESL team’s professional learning experience. The below ESL book recommendations is a follow-up to my first post that discusses how to plan a successful book study.

The previous post discusses setting up a book study, choosing an online platform, question selection and creation, and member participation.

Collaboration and Co-teaching for ELLs 

Collaboration and co-teaching Strategies for English Learners is written by Andrea Honigsfeld and Maria G. Dove, two known experts in the ELL world. This is an excellent book for any educator, not just new ESL teachers. In my view, this book provides ESL teachers a step-by-step guide addressing how to collaborate, co-plan, and co-teach with classroom teachers of ELLs.

It starts with a rationale about the importance of collaborating and co-teaching. Each chapter provides insights about how to plan and when collaboration is most appropriate.  The new edition contains a section within each chapter that highlights administrators’ role at each stage of the collaboration process.

Why Do English Learners Struggle with Reading?

When we found ourselves collaborating and answering more and more questions about ELLs and reading struggles, I felt the need to learn more about this topic. I wanted to strengthen our ability to collaborate with our special education department by differentiating language acquisition from learning disabilities. My research for professional development that would support this topic led me to an excellent resource. 

Why Do English Learners Struggle with Reading provides educators helps educators determine whether their ELs are struggling with reading because they may have learning disabilities or for reasons associated with second language acquisition (Hoover, Baca, Klingner 2016 p2). Additionally, the book clarifies many of the misconceptions surrounding EL instruction and assessment. 

This particular book study gave us the opportunity to discuss and focus on:

  • Distinguishing between language acquisition and learning disabilities
  • MTSS model for educating ELs
  • Hone in on the language acquisition process
  • Challenges faced by ELLs
  • Evidence based practices
  • Assessments
  • Data-driven decision making. 

My approach for each of the above chapter sections was to connect the discussion with what we saw in the classroom. As a result, this allowed us to engage in scenarios and concerns that we were regularly experiencing. 

The 6 Principles for Exemplary Teaching of English Learners

The first time I saw this book, I knew that this would become our next book study. Hence, some of the ESL teachers felt the same way. We thought that this particular book would provide us with consistent language to use among regular classroom educators.

The 6 Principles for exemplary teaching of English learners lays out important information that teachers should know about English language development and the 6 Principles and practical examples of how these principles can be enacted in classrooms (Short, Becker, Cloud, Hellman, Levine 2018 pviii).

My ultimate goal for this book was to invite classroom teachers to participate in a bigger book study. More specifically, we later offered a district-wide summer book study for classroom teachers of ELs. This was a great opportunity to collaborate with a different audience and build relationships.

Students with Interrupted Formal Education

Although Students with interrupted education are not the majority of students we work with, it is a group of students we must know how to serve. In 2018, an increase of SIFE students led us to hold a book study to improve our services.

Students With Interrupted Formal Education: Bridging Where They Are and What They Need offers a “whole child” approach to serving the at-risk student population (Custodio, O’Louglin 2017 pxi). Likewise, this is a quick read with 5 chapters only. It provides an overview of different SIFE students, including Latinos, refugees, social, emotional support, and school-based support and resources. 

Building Literacy with English Language Learners

Our most recent book study is taking us to the next level in understanding literacy development and English language learners. The authors of this book believe that children enter school with many assets and abilities, and this fund of knowledge is coazed, shaped, and developed over the course of their school experiences (pvii). In sum, Building Literacy with English Language Learners second edition addresses language-specific needs of different content disciplines.

As noted by the authors (Lems, Miller, and Soro 2017), in this book, you’ll find answers to the following questions:

  • How are languages put together?
  • What do languages share in common?
  • Which aspects of a child’s first language can be easily applied to learning English as a new language, which cannot?
  • How can we engage in best practices once we have a deeper understanding of language, literacy, and linguistics?

This is a book that I truly enjoyed reading this wonderful book. It provides a clear understanding of the different types of language-related assets such as orthographies that ESL teachers must speak to and recognize.

As you know, it is no longer enough to only learn certain languages. ELLs represent hundreds of languages that ESL teachers must understand to support student interventions and decisions.


As you know, not all books make a great book study. The selection of a book should be driven by your team or school needs and initiatives. The planning of successful book studies gives us opportunities to grow our skills, enhance ESL instruction, and plan future services.

Other ESL Book recommendations

Total 20 Books Found!

No Image Available Margarita Espino Calderon, Maria G. Dove, Diane Staehr Fenner, Margo Gottlieb, Andrea Honigsfeld, Tonya W. Singer, Shawn M. Sinclair-Slakk, Ivannia Soto, Debbie Zacarian Buy Now
No Image Available Kristin Lems, Leah D. Miller, and Tenena M. Soro Buy Now
No Image Available Lillian Davis Buy Now
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No Image Available Shelley Fairbairin & Stephaney Jones-Vo Buy Now
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No Image Available Michelle L. Izquierdo Buy Now
No Image Available PJ Ryan Buy Now
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No Image Available Pauline Gibbons Buy Now
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No Image Available Max Brallier Buy Now
No Image Available Egmont Ptd Buy Now
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No Image Available Diane Staehr Fenner & Sydney Cail Snyder Buy Now
This post was proofread by Grammarly

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