Dolphin Readers, published by OUP, are strange beasts. I almost didn’t include them in my roundup, because I don’t think they actually are, strictly speaking, readers.
Rather, they are extremely well put-together supplementary workbooks. They consist of five levels (starter and one to four) and there are eight books at each level. The series is available as a set, or individually. There is also a version that includes CDs, although I haven’t heard them so can’t comment.
Each book has two parts, the text and the questions/exercises. You could conceivably try to just use them as readers, but the questions are so well integrated that I think it would be difficult to do that.
My thoughts on Dolphin Readers:
1. the books are very well-designed, printed on thick paper and with attractive artwork
2. they are fairly reasonable: just over 600 yen on Amazon.jp, and less than 20,000 for the full pack of 40
3. the exercises are very well-integrated with the text and practice vocabulary and grammar in a very student-friendly way
4. our students and staff both like the books
Where this series shines is in the classroom. I think the books are designed to be bought by students and used as workbooks in class or for homework. For us, that could get kind of pricey and we already have our students buy a lot of supplementary material, so instead we use the readers in class as a teacher-led exercise where students read the text and answer the questions orally. It’s a great filler activity for those extra three to five minutes that crop up occasionally.
Many people I have talked to prefer the upper levels (three and above), and I agree that they are perhaps more interesting, but I have found all of the books useful. It’s a great resource to have in the classroom.
Any other Dolphin Reader users? I’m very interested in hearing how other people use them too.