Downtown San Diego is known for its beautiful Coronado and Bay views, gorgeous Petco Park, (home of the Padres baseball team: go Pads!), its exciting Gaslamp District filled with restaurants and bars, and . . . the library.

The library?

SD Public Library.Steve Simpson Inc23
The beautiful San Diego Library, located Downtown.

Well, San Diego’s new central library might not be something that the city is “known” for, but this beautiful new structure is one of the most architecturally interesting buildings of San Diego, and a visit to the library, with its over one million books (and nearly 300,000 books in over 25 languages!), is highly recommended. San Diegans agree that the new structure, with its beautiful silver dome and modern architecture, has quickly become a staple of the San Diego Downtown skyline. We certainly agree!

SD Public Library.Steve Simpson Inc
The library (the large domed building to the right) opened in 2013.

As with all things, however, it’s what inside that counts, and the library does not disappoint when it comes to its collection of books, its events, or its social activities. The structure (which is an impressive 366,673 square feet and NINE stories tall!) includes the following features:

  • a stunning outdoor garden courtyard with an adjacent café
  • a 320-seat auditorium
  • a beautiful, three-story domed reading room with plenty of natural light
  • a 333-seat, west-facing multi-purpose room (so you can enjoy the CA sunsets!)
  • 22 study rooms
  • a teen center
  • a children’s library
  • a homework center
  • complete technology center
  • a café (because coffee and reading go hand in hand!)
  • a charter high school with innovative curriculum
  • a special event space
  • local artwork displayed throughout the library
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A room with a view! Windows overlooking beautiful San Diego allow for lovely breaks during your time reading or studying.

To learn more about the library, sign up for a guided tour and learn all about the new building and its many features. OR, if you can’t make it to the library, the library can come to you: click here to take a virtual tour of the structure.

The library’s contents are accessible online as well: with its impressive e-collection, you have online access to millions of books, documents, photos, and videos. Click here to learn more about the library’s e-collection.

Have you ever wanted to join a book club? Check out the library’s page listing dozens of its area book clubs . . . or, start your own! The library encourages this and will help you set up a new group. Click here to learn how to start a book club.

Studying Students Reading

Books Recommended for English learners

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Books for ESL students Sandra Cisneros

Summary: Esperanza, a young girl from Mexico who is now growing up in the U.S., explains her life as a poor immigrant an aspiring writer. We see the world through her young eyes and are introduced to many neighborhood characters.

Why it’s a great book for ESL students: The book is actually a collection of small, individual stories (called vignettes) that come together to create a story. However, you do not need to read all of them, and you do not have to read them in order. Students can skip chapters that don’t interest them (or that are too difficult).

Another reason why it’s a great book for ESL students: Because the book is told from young Esperanza’s perspective, the language is often quite simple. It’s also a great way to practice the Simple Past verbs, since it is told in the past tense.

Yet another reason: The book, published in 1984, is now free to the public. You can access the book online, and can even go to a website where the author, Cisneros, reads the audiobook. Click here to access the book and audiobook online.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

Books for ESL students Mark Haddon

Summary: A young boy, Christopher, decides to write a book about a crime committed in his neighborhood. During his detective work, Christopher learns that there is a lot more to the crime than it first seems, and he goes on an adventure to get to the bottom of the mystery. Christopher, who has a mental problem that’s never specified (although it’s probably autism or Aspberger’s syndrome), is the most complex and interesting narrator of many readers will ever encounter.

Why it’s a great book for ESL students: Because the book is told from Christopher’s perspective, the language used is quite simple and easy to follow. And, because Christopher is British, we get to learn a lot of British slang and idioms. (Click here to learn some more differences between British and American English!)

Another reason why it’s a great book for ESL students: The book is also available online and as an audiobook! Read it by clicking here.

Yet another reason: The book was so popular that it has been made into a theater production! How cool would it be to see the theatrical interpretation of a book you read in English?

Ask your CISL teacher for more suggestions of books for ESL learners, or leave a reading suggestion on the CISL Facebook page. We would love to hear what you’re reading!

Photos of the SD Library from Steve Simpson Inc. Photos of students from Shutterstock.