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Extensive Reading: ESL Activities and Tasks

Even though extensive reading should be done mostly for fun and general language development, giving the students a choice of activities or tasks to complete while reading their book and/or after finishing the book will help you keep them accountable for their reading and will let you know if they understand the gist of what they are reading as well.


It is important to encourage students to interact with the book while they are reading it. These questions help students connect with the book and develop their overall literacy skills. You can ask students to answer these questions in writing or orally.

If two or more students are reading the same book, they can even have a discussion based on these questions as well. Remind students not to reveal plot events that other students haven’t read about yet though, so as not to spoil the story for them.

  • What is the protagonist fighting against?
  • What emotion most clearly dominates the main character? Why?
  • What motivates the antagonist? Why?
  • Which character would you least like to be? Why?
  • What one piece of advice would you offer the main character?
  • Which character do you most closely identify with? Why?
  • Which character would you like to meet or know in real life?
  • What do you think will happen next in the novel?
  • Would you want any of the characters in your novel as siblings, parents, friends, or partners? Who? Why? / Why not?


Once the students have finished reading the book you can ask them to consider the following questions, again orally or in written form.

  • Who was the most interesting character in the book?
  • Has this book increased your interest in a particular subject? Which one? Why?
  • What do you think happens to the characters after the book ends?
  • Would you change anything in the story if you were the author?
  • How could the conflict have been resolved differently?
  • Did this book reaffirm or change the opinions you hold? Which ones? How?
  • What part of the plot did you enjoy the most? Why?
  • What part of the plot did you enjoy the least? Why?
  • Which theme or themes in this novel are similar to your own life?


The following list of writing tasks can be used as practice or assessment either while the students are reading the book or after they have finished it.

  • Write a letter to your main character, commenting on what you think of what s/he did in a significant event in the story.
  • Think of an event that is talked about, but not described, in your book. Write the dialogue following the style of the author.
  • Write a letter from one character in your book to another. Then write a response.
  • You are a psychologist. Write a dialogue between you (as the psychologist) and one of the main characters in your book, discussing how to resolve one of the character’s issues.
  • Choose someone you know well and compare the character to this person. How are they alike or different?
  • “There’s more than one side to a story” is an old saying. Write about one incident in your book from another character’s point of view.
  • Illustrate a scene in the novel. Write a description of your illustration, including why you chose to illustrate this scene (One page for the illustration, one for the description).
  • Draw or create a portrait of the main character. Write a description of your illustration, including an explanation of the features you chose for him/her (One page for the illustration, one for the description).
  • Find the “heart” of your story. This can be a word, line, passage, image, or event. Write this in your notebook; then tell why it is so significant.
  • Imagine that you are the main character looking back on the events in the story. Tell me how you feel about what you did, your struggles, and your motivations. How have you changed? What are you doing now?
  • Create a written description of a musical score for different situations in your book. What types of music would be appropriate for different events in your story? Write any particular songs you would use and why.

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Related Articles:

Reading Comprehension for Large ESL Classes

Extensive Reading: Choosing a Book and Assessing Students

Extensive Reading: Encouraging Students to Become Independent Learners

(VIDEO) Techniques to Help ESL Students Improve Their Reading Comprehension Skills

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