January 18, 2018
by Nora Nagy

The world of Edgar Allan Poe

Who was Edgar Allan Poe? When I look back at my literary studies, I have a recurring memory of the fascination I and my fellow students felt when we started reading Poe’s short stories and narrative poems. Not only did we feel intrigued by the horror in his stories, but we also enjoyed the deductive reasoning and creative imagianation of Dupin, the famous detective who first appeared in his The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Poe’s writing is often associated with his tales of mystery and macabre, and he is also seen as an important figure in the birth of detective fiction.

Edgar Allan Poe was born 19 January 1809. Use the occasion as the perfect excuse to dedicate a lesson to him and give your students the chance to learn more about the life and work of this great thinker and writer. Use the projects below as various ways into Poe’s literary heritage. There are two important aspects of our approach to exploring his literature. On the one hand, we propose a sociocultural and historical approach, which can lead to interesting CLIL projects. His literary criticism and literary technique was just as peculiar and popular in the 19th century as it is today. The social and cultural aspects of the literary world of the United States in the 1800s had a great influence on the development of his style. Learning about the culture of the era, your  students can get a deeper understanding of his work as well. Another important perspective is psychological and philosophical. How did his personality and worldview influence his writing? Although contemporary criticism often supports a text-focused approach, independent of the writer’s intentions, we think reading Poe’s life is an important narrative in its own right. Continue Reading →

January 15, 2018
by Nora Nagy


January started with the magic of a new beginning and all the wishes and resolutions that come with a new year. We started the year looking at Five Children and It which is full of wishes and magic.

If you want to explore the theme of magic here are some more books for you to choose from. Happy reading!

Young Readers

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Red and Blue Readers

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Young Adult Novels

Visit our 101 Young Adult Novels website to read more about young adult novels.

You can also download our MAGIC worksheet to help the classroom discussion of the topic and these texts.

January 4, 2018
by Nora Nagy

Five Children and It in the classroom

We are all aware of the benefits of extensive reading, but some of us may feel unsure about how to approach longer texts in class. How should we scaffold the reading for the students and much time should we dedicate to talking about the book? How will the students benefit from it? Can it be linked to our syllabus?

In these series of posts we would like to encourage you to take extensive reading seriously and take a novel into class. We will look at how you can prepare your students for the text and expand it beyond the frame of the story. It is important to prepare the students so they are aware of what they are doing, Some of them may feel intimidiated by the idea of reading a book in English, others may not see the benefits. These fears and preconceptions can be easily addressed and thereby making the reading process much more beneficial and all-importantly FUN for the students. It is always a good idea for students to keep a WORD BOOK where they can jot down new words and expressions. We also recommend getting your students to read slightly below level so they are at ease with the language and consolidating language while learning new words in context.

This month we start with the wonderful Five Children and It written by E. Nesbit. You can read a short description of the Helbling Reader edition here. Continue Reading →

December 29, 2017
by Nora Nagy

Our top 10 blog posts in 2017

Here are our top 10 blog posts in 2017. It is great to look back and see the variety of posts – interviews, lesson plans, quizzes and articles on language philosophy and methodology – you enjoyed reading. Thank you for following us and look forward to an inspiring 2018 together!

Which one was your post?

December 25, 2017
by Nora Nagy

Five literary Christmas scenes

When we think of Christmas, our memories often get mixed with scenes that we have read in books, poems or seen in films. We have five stories to share with you, all of which tell us about a different aspects of Christmas.

Anne of Green Gables

Do you remember the scene when Matthew goes to buy the dress with the puffy sleeves for Anne? My favourite character in the book is definitely Matthew Cuthbert. When he goes to the shop, he is too shy to  ask for the dress so he ends up buying a rake (in winter!) and lots of brown sugar before he plucks up his courage. Anne could not be happier when she sees the dress at Christmas.

This scene tells us so much about the love Matthew feels for his daughter, the magic of giving and receiving gifts, and of course also about the style of dresses that were popular in the early 1900s.

  • Read more about the Helbling Reader adaptation of Anne of Green Gables – Anne Grows Up written by Lucy Maud Montgomery here.

A Christmas Carol

This is the quintessential Christmas story. If I had to choose one scene, it would be the first section of the final part of the story, when Scrooge’s transformation happens, sending us a message that positive change is possible. He opens the window and shouts out into the world:

“I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”

  • Read more about the Helbling Reader adaptation of A Christmas Carol written by Charles Dickens here.

Little Women

There are many heartwarming moments in this story, but the scene I like the most is when Mr March arrives home as a surprise. It reminds us of the most special presents you can give at Christmas: your time, presence, attention and love.

The family also has a delicious meal together with a fat turkey, plum pudding and jelly. But all of this would be very different without the happiness they feel just because they are together.

  • Read more about the Helbling Reader adaptation of Little Women written by Louise May Alcott here.

The Blue Carbuncle

This Sherlock Holmes story gives us a different aspect of Christmas fun. Sherlock and Dr Watson, in their usual smart way, solve a mystery together. How did a precious blue stone end up inside a Christmas goose? If you read this short story, you will have the entertainment of solving a problem through the fascinating logic of Sherlock’s mind. My favourite scene is the very last one, when Sherlock talks about saving a man, saying “Besides, it is the season of forgiveness”, a gentle reminder that helping and forgiving others are important acts of kindness at the end of the year.

  • Read more about the Helbling Reader adaptation of The Blue Carbuncle written by Arthur Conan Doyle here.

A Christmas Present for Barney Bunny

This is a story of a playful bunny family at Christmas. My favourite scene is the very first one, which gives us the idea of a perfectly happy and chaotic family and their busy but loving mummy. The little ones are running around and end up getting sent out to play in the snow: a perfect winter scene with the kids playing outside. Unforunately, these days we mostly experience snow from stories and in pictures, but these scenes of making snowballs and fighting in the snow reminds me of the best moments of past Christmases.

  • Read more about the Helbling Young Reader original story of A Christmas Present for Barney Bunny written by Maria Cleary here.

What are your favourite literary Chrismas scenes?

A very happy Christmas to all of you from the Helbling Readers Blog team.