Reading can open your mind to brilliant new worlds and take you to a new level of English language learning.
It may feel like a slow process, but it is effective.
Adopting English books as learning tools can help you reach English fluency faster than ever before.
Take a trip to your local library and see what a difference a few good books can make!
The Benefits of Reading English Books
“The more that you read, the more that you’ll know. The more that you know, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss.
As any English-speaking child can tell you, there is no denying Dr. Seuss. If you love to read, but you’re a little afraid of reading a full-on novel in English, don’t worry. We’re going to help you get there, step by step.
With every book you read, the more you’ll improve your English reading skills.
To get started, there are some excellent novels written in English that are not too difficult to understand. Anyway, it’s good to set yourself a language challenge now and again. How else are you going to improve in English?
Reading is rewarding.
Being able to read a novel in another language and understand it is a huge achievement. You’ll feel accomplished the moment you read that final page, close the book, and reflect on the experience. You might find yourself at the last page faster than you thought—once you begin reading these books, you won’t be able to put them down.
Reading is an exercise in language learning.
Reading English novels will help improve your vocabulary, general understanding and in some cases it may even give you more knowledge into different countries and their cultures. You also get to move at your own pace. While listening to podcasts and radio, you have to keep up with whoever is speaking. Sure, watching movies to learn English can be a lot of fun, but doesn’t it get tiring to have to read subtitles or pause and rewind? While reading a book, you can read as slowly or as quickly as you desire. If you didn’t understand something, simply look at the paragraph again!
Reading opens the mind.
Reading educates. It opens you up to new experiences and perspectives. What better way is there to understand someone’s way of thinking? You may learn new information about language, culture, society, and history that you never knew before.
Reading is fun!
It is, overall, an enjoyable and relaxing way to learn English without any stress whatsoever. People get frustrated when they choose books that go above their reading levels. By choosing your first English books wisely, you should have a very positive experience.
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10 Great and Easy English Books You Must Read
Check out some of the following well-known novels. If you’ve got a basic level of understanding and comprehension, these novels aren’t going to be a problem. They’re perfect for any learners who are learning English for beginners!
Set yourself a reading challenge. How many of these books can your read?
1. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
This is a lovely novel that all age groups can understand. Aimed at native English speaking children, there are many adults who still say this famous book is their favorite. This is part of the national curriculum in many schools around the world, so it’s quite possible this book will also come up in conversation. You can almost guarantee that the majority of native English speakers have read this book at least once.
A baby pig is almost killed because of his status – he is the smallest pig that was born and he is considered to be useless and of no value. The pig is saved by a little girl called Fern Arable. She adopts the pig and takes care of it. She gives him the name Wilbur.
Fern grows sad when Wilbur grows up and has to be sent away to a farm owned by her uncle. She has a strong relationship with Wilbur. When Wilbur goes to the farm, all the other farm animals ignore him and he’s left crying for his human friend. One day he hears a voice, but he can’t see anything. This voice promises to become friends with him.
The voice belongs to a small spider called Charlotte. Charlotte the spider knows that the farmers are planning to kill Wilbur. She promises to make a plan to save his life. The farmers are surprised the next day when they see the words “some pig” written in the web* Charlotte has made. Charlotte asked for the other animals’ help over the day to write messages everywhere.
Wilbur is sad when Charlotte disappears. But in the end, her baby spiders turn out to be great company for the pig. They continue to protect each other and the story ends well.
*webs are the sticky traps that spiders make.
2. Mieko and the Fifth Treasure – Eleanor Coerr
This book is not really so famous, but it is on the recommended book list. What’s great about “Mieko and the Fifth Treasure” is that it’s short. At only 77 pages long, this will be an easy read. Again this book is aimed at young native English speakers, so if you’re learning English, the level won’t be so difficult. This book will keep you interested as you’ll learn many interesting things about Japan and its culture.
This is an emotional story about Mieko. Mieko is a talented artist and calligrapher (handwriting artist). Her hand is badly hurt during the bombings of the war. The scared little girl is sent to live with her grandparents in the countryside where it is safer.
Mieko is worried and afraid that she’s lost her 5th treasure – the “beauty in her heart.” This treasure is the key to her happiness and her beautiful art.
Mieko starts a new school. Her new classmates are mean. They constantly laugh at her and tease her which just makes her angrier. Her grandparents eventually manage to lift her darkness through their patience and wisdom. She also finds a good friend in Yoshi. Yoshi is one classmate who is really kind.
Mieko also grows close to Yoshi’s aunt. Her friend’s aunt is strict, but kind and encourages Mieko to pick up her paintbrushes again.
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3. The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
This short novel is perfect for EFL learners. It has modern themes and typical teenage issues that people around the world have experienced. There are very few cultural notes in this, which means you don’t need much background information. The sentences are short and easy to understand. The vocabulary is also very easy. You should be able to read this book without difficulty.
Ponyboy Curtis is one of the main characters. He is a part of a gang of teenagers called the Greasers. After he leaves the movie theater one day, he’s attacked by a rival (enemy) gang. Ponyboy’s friends chase the group away and he is saved.
The next evening, Ponyboy and his friends go to watch a movie again. They sit behind a few pretty girls from the other gang. They end up sitting together with the girls. Ponyboy and Cherry learn that they have a lot of things in common even though they are from different gangs. The boys begin to walk the girls’ home, but on the way they meet the girls’ boyfriends. The girls have to leave so a fight does not begin.
Because Ponyboy arrives late at home his brother becomes angry. This causes them to fight. As a result Ponyboy tries to run away from home. They meet up with the rival gang again and yet another fight begins. This time one of the enemies is killed.
Ponyboy is really scared. They hide in a church and try to hide their appearance by dyeing (coloring) their hair. A number of different fights break out between the two gangs. Eventually Ponyboy wakes up in the hospital.
A trial is set in the courtroom and the judge has to decide Ponyboy’s fate (future). Is he guilty or not guilty?
4. The House On Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros
The great thing about “The House On Mango Street” is that it’s an interesting read. It’s written from the point of view of the writer. You can really feel what the protagonist (the main character) feels. The sentences are really short so it’s also easy to understand. There are a few challenging words and a little bit of descriptive language, but you can usually understand them with the context. Another great thing about this is book is that it gives you a deep understanding of a different culture.
This book follows the life of Esperanza, a Mexican girl. The novel takes place over the period of one year. Esperanza moves into a new home on Mango Street. The house is much better than her old one. It is the first house her parents have ever owned – all their other houses have been rented. Esperanza is not very happy because she had been dreaming of a different home – a bigger one. Their new house is old and small. The house is located in a busy Latino area of Chicago. In the new home, Esperanza feels like she has no time to be alone. She promises herself that one day she will leave and have her own home.
Throughout the novel the young girl grows up a lot. The story follows her life as she makes friends, her body changes and she begins to have feelings for a boy. With her new friends, she has many adventures. When she goes back to school after the vacation Esperanza is embarrassed about her family being poor. She writes poetry secretly to make her feel better.
There is a lot of focus on other women in the community and Esperanza hopes never to be like them. Through watching the older women and how they are stuck, she knows that she wants to leave.
5. Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
This story takes place in the present, which means the writer writes using simple grammar. All sentences are short and the vocabulary is relatively easy. The interesting grammar and short paragraphs make this a quick and easy book for ESL learners. This is an award-winning book and on the NY Times best books list, so it’s worth a read. This book deals with some heavy issues. If you’re looking for something light and happy to read over the summer vacation, you should not read this book.
The main character is Clay Jensen, a quiet high school student. He comes home from school to find a parcel at his front door. He does not know who sent it. He opens it and discovers 7 cassette tapes. These tapes are from Hannah Baker, his previous classmate. She had emotional problems and has committed suicide (killed herself).
The tapes came with instructions. The paper stated that they should pass the tapes from one student to another student. There are 12 people in total. In the paper, she explains to these people that they helped her die – she gives them 13 reasons. Hannah also sends another set of tapes to a different person. She gives them a strong warning that if they don’t pass the first set of tapes onto the next person, the whole school will know how they were a part of her death.
We hear about her pain. She talks about her first kiss, people who lied to her and stole from her. Everything started with gossip. The gossip then grew and became out of control. The book follows each person’s story and the reason why she felt hurt including her English teacher who didn’t take her seriously.
6. Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
Almost everyone knows the story of “Peter Pan” which is why this is an easy read. Being familiar with a story already helps the reader to understand the text better. This book is aimed at children, but it continues to be enjoyed by adults around the world too.
Every night Peter visits the Darling family house and listens to Mrs. Darling tell bedtime stories. He sits on the window listening. One evening, they see Peter trying to escape. As he tries to run away, he loses his shadow. He goes back to get his shadow. He wakes up the daughter of the house, Wendy Darling. Wendy helps him attach his shadow to his body again. Wendy tells him she knows a lot of bedtime stories too.
Peter invites Wendy to return to Neverland with him. He wants her to be the mother of the Lost Boys. Wendy agrees to the mission and asks for her brothers Michael and John to join them.
They have a magical flight as they travel to Neverland and have many adventures along the way. Wendy is nearly killed and the boys build her a house in the trees to recover. After Wendy is okay, she takes the role of the mother.
After all their adventures and fun, Wendy decides that her place is at home with their mother. Wendy helps all the Lost Boys return to London. But Peter doesn’t want her to go. Instead he tries to trick her. He tells her that their mother doesn’t want them anymore. However, he understands how sad their mother must be. In the end, he decides to let them go home.
7. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemmingway
This is a famous classic. Almost all native English speakers will have read this book at some point in school. So, if you ever find yourself in a conversation about literature and books, this is a good one to talk about. At some points it has a little bit of difficult vocabulary, however, it is short and you won’t have too much trouble being able to finish it.
This is a story of a long fight between an old, experienced fisherman and the best fish he ever caught. Santiago has returned to the village without any fish for 84 days. The young boy who helps Santiago is told by his parents to join another boat. But the young boy continues to help the fisherman at night.
On the eighty-fifth day, his luck changes and so does his life. Santiago sails his boat further away. He drops his fishing lines. At 12 pm, a huge fish (a marlin) takes the bait (the food used to attract fish). The man tries to pull the fish up, but the fish is too big and strong. Instead, the fish begins to pull the boat. The old man continues to fight and hold on to the line. The fish pulls the boat around the sea for two days.
On the third day, the fish gets tired. Santiago is able to pull the fish closer and kill it. It’s the biggest fish he has seen in his life. He begins to sail back to the village, but the blood of the fish attracts sharks. The boat is attacked by a Mako shark, but Santiago is able to kill it. He kills most of the sharks, but there is a problem. They have eaten the meat of the fish and now only the skeleton (bones) is left. He returns back to his home and falls asleep.
All the people of the village are amazed at the size of the fish skeleton. The young boy agrees to be the fishing partner of Santiago once more.
8. The Giver – Lois Lowry
“The Giver” begins in a very interesting way and catches the attention of the readers from the beginning. It has easy-to-understand grammar. Most of the grammar is just past simple and past perfect. All of the sentences are short and there is no confusion in the story. This is a longer book. It’s really easy though, so you’ll finish it quickly.
Jonas is a young boy. He lives a very safe life with a lot of order and rules. There are many rules and everyone follows them. The citizens’ lives are planned for them and they don’t often make a decision by themselves.
They try not to say anything different. One rule is that you must never say anything that will make another person uncomfortable. Every husband and wife is matched by a special committee. Each family has two children, one boy and one girl.
When Jonas and the rest of his group become the “Twelves” in December, they get special jobs. Because Jonas is smart and respected, he is given an extra special job. His new job is to become the Receiver of Memories. The Receiver of Memories is the only person in the group who can see all of the memories in the past. He must keep these memories secret until he trains another person to take his place. This job is really difficult. This person knows things that others do not, and they also have to deal with all of the sadness from the past.
At first Jonas is really excited. But he soon learns some truths about the people in the community. He comes to understand that this kind of life is unfair. He wants to allow people to make their own choices. Jonas comes up with an interesting plan to change the community. He decides he needs to move the community to another place. In his plan, they will get their memories back and be able to live a good and fair life.
9. Number the Stars – Lois Lowry
This is a realistic novel. It’s based on history. Unlike other historical literature, it’s easy to understand. If you already know a lot of information about World War II, this might be an interesting book for you. It’s not recommended if you don’t know too much about the World Wars. In this case, you will be focusing on trying to understand the facts too much so you will not enjoy the book as much.
This is a story of hope and courage. The year is 1943 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The area has been taken over by Hitler’s army. There are soldiers everywhere. The life of 10-year-old Annemarie has changed a lot. There is little food and everyone is very scared. There is talk about moving all of the Jewish people to another place. This is difficult for Annemarie because her best friend, Ellen, is Jewish.
This is a different book about the war. It shows it was not only the Jewish people who suffered during the war. Annemarie’s family lost their eldest daughter, Lise, a few weeks before her wedding.
Annemarie will later do what her sister, Lise, did. She will join the resistance party to fight against the Nazis. She ends up being a heroine (a female hero) for a few reasons (which I will not tell you because I don’t want to ruin the story).
10. A Wrinkle In Time – Madeline L’engle
This book has a mix of shorter and longer sentences. The short sentences allow the readers to relax a little bit more. They also create the scene well and let you know what is happening through simple words. There is a lot of vocabulary to learn. It is a good book if you’ve already got experience reading novels in English. Make sure you have your vocabulary notebook with you, just in case there are any cool words that you’d like to learn. This book has MANY!
Meg is 14-years-old. Everyone sees her as a troublemaker (a person who makes/causes trouble). They think she’s a bad student. Everyone in her family seems to be perfect. Her mom is a very beautiful scientist. Her twin brothers are very athletic. And her little 5-year-old brother, Charles Wallace Murry, is a child genius and can often read the mind of Meg.
One night Meg can’t sleep. She goes downstairs to find her young brother sitting at the kitchen table drinking milk. Later their mom joins them. A strange neighbor called Mrs. Whatsit joins them. Mrs. Whatsit is talking a lot and says that the “tesseract” is real. We (the readers) don’t know what this means, but Mrs. Murry knows what it is. She looks like she is going to faint (fall down from sickness or fear).
Meg and her brother meet a friend the next day. Calvin O’Keefe is a high school junior student. Together, the three of them go to visit an old haunted house which belongs to Mrs. Whatsit. While going there they meet Mrs. Whatsit’s friend, Mrs. Who. Mrs. Who is also very strange. Meg and Calvin begin to like each other. Charles suddenly announces that they should focus on finding their father who is lost somewhere in the universe.
Strange things happen and the older women turn into supernatural (not from Earth) beings. They transport the kids to the universe by the “tesseract.” They stop and visit different planets on the way. The women tell the children that the universe is being attacked by the “Black thing” (the devil).
They find out where Meg’s father is being kept. Charles tries to use his psychic (in his mind) powers to see where their dad is. Eventually they find their dad, but not without drama. Along the way, Meg learns to love. She uses this new love to help them escape.
There are so many cool and fun books to read. It’s always better to find books that are for middle school readers in the US so the language and ideas will never be too difficult to understand.
Reading is a wonderful way to improve your English. It’s an awesome way to learn new vocabulary. Reading opens your mind. It’s a great way to learn how to guess what things mean and at the same time enjoy English in another way.
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.
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