10 English Children’s Books to Delight Any Reader
What’s your favorite children’s book?
I bet there’s one you read again and again as a child that brings back warm feelings just thinking about it.
Children’s books are entertaining to read, with great images and simple vocabulary.
There’s often some rhyming and repetition, a bit of humor and an important moral lesson.
In this post, you’ll find 10 of the best English children’s books, with a taste of what each story’s about in case it’s not already one of your favorites.
- 10 Classic Children’s Books in English
- 1. “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
- 2. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
- 3. “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” by Laura Numeroff
- 4. “Curious George” by H.A. Rey and Margret Rey
- 5. “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein
- 6. “Corduroy” by Don Freeman
- 7. “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss
- 8. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss
- 9. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak
- 10. “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf
- Learning English with Story Books for Kids
- And One More Thing...
10 Classic Children’s Books in English
These books are ordered from easiest to more difficult. If you’re a beginner English learner or reading with young children, start at the beginning of the list and work your way up!
1. “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
“Goodnight Moon” isn’t really a story. It’s more like a cute poem that describes different things like kittens, a mouse and a quiet old lady.
The author introduces everything in the beginning and then says goodnight to each of them at the end.
The book uses repetition of the same sentence structures with different vocabulary, which is great for English learners and young readers. For example, one line in the book reads, “Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon.” This is really helpful for learning a lot of new words.
Most of the story is made of short two- and three-word sentences, which is why I’ve listed it as the easiest book here.
2. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” starts with a little caterpillar who comes out of its egg and starts searching for food. He does this every day and eats more and more food during a week.
In the beginning, the caterpillar eats healthily, such as fruit and vegetables. Later, he eats more and more junk food until his stomach hurts. He decides to eat something good again and feels better. It’s a great lesson on healthy eating!
This children’s book is helpful for learning essential English words, such as numbers, foods and days of the week. Once again, repetition is very important for improving your English, and this book has a lot of it.
3. “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” by Laura Numeroff
“If You Give a Moose a Muffin” is one of the shortest on the list. It’s about a moose who always wants something more.
First, he wants a muffin. Then he wants some jam to go with it. When he’s eaten everything, he asks for more, and more…
The book’s language uses a lot of the future tense. This means most of the sentences have the verb “will” in them. You’ll see many examples of the future tense and its contractions (he’ll, you’ll, etc.).
If you like this book, you’ll probably also like “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” written by the same author.
4. “Curious George” by H.A. Rey and Margret Rey
This is the original book from the very famous series about a monkey named Curious George. Curious George is a little too curious, which causes humans to catch him and bring him to their big city.
There, the monkey creates all sorts of problems. He calls the fire department, ends up in prison (jail), escapes from prison, is carried into the sky by balloons and eventually, he arrives safely in the zoo.
This book uses a lot of short, simple sentences, which makes it very easy to read for both children and English learners. For example, “One day George saw a man. He had on a large yellow straw hat. The man saw George too.”
5. “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein
This is a sad, beautiful story about a boy and his relationship with an apple tree. It’s a tale (story) of unconditional love and giving and receiving.
When he’s young, the boy spends a lot of time playing with the tree. But as he gets older, he visits her less and less. Later in life, he comes back to the tree to ask her for help. The tree helps the boy because she loves him.
This book has such a deep meaning, and it’s fun to read at the same time. It uses simple words to create one clear idea, making it a fairly easy read for upper beginner or intermediate learners.
6. “Corduroy” by Don Freeman
“Corduroy” is the story of a little bear who’s for sale in a toy shop. He’s lost one of his buttons, so no one wants to buy him.
This makes him very sad because he wants to be taken home by a child. The book tells the story of his adventure to try to find a button for himself, and how he finally finds his home.
“Corduroy” uses a lot of advanced vocabulary and descriptive adjectives. Therefore, it could be helpful to use a dictionary while you read or keep a list of new words that you can look up after reading.
7. “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss
This book features Sam, who really likes green eggs and ham. He offers it to a friend, but the friend doesn’t want to eat it.
They go on a train, inside a tunnel and even in the lake, but Sam’s friend still refuses to eat green eggs and ham. After Sam asks many times, his friend finally tries the meal. You’ll have to read the book to see if he liked it or not!
This book is a long and very entertaining poem. It uses simple vocabulary, a lot of repetition and various verb tenses. There’s also a lot of clever rhyming which makes this book really fun to read.
8. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss
Written by the same author as “Green Eggs and Ham,” this famous book begins with two siblings who have to stay inside on a cold and rainy day.
Just as they’re wondering what to do, a cat in a hat knocks on their door and invites himself in. The story follows the wild antics of the cat and his friends, Thing 1 and Thing 2.
“The Cat in the Hat” is the longest of the children’s books on this list, but it’s one of the best ones.
This book is excellent for English learners because of the simple language and diverse vocabulary. You’ll get exposed to some unique words like “thump” and “bump” to add to your vocabulary list.
9. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak
“Where the Wild Things Are” is about a boy named Max who misbehaves in front of his parents. His mother sends him to his room without eating dinner.
While in his room, a forest magically grows and Max meets huge monsters called Wild Things. The Wild Things try to scare him, but Max tames them with a magic trick. The story follows Max’s adventure in this fantasy world.
This is one of the most classic and well-known children’s books in English literature. In fact, it was made into a very popular movie.
Despite being a children’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are” uses some advanced vocabulary and higher-level grammar.
10. “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf
The books tell the story of a gentle bull (male cow) named Ferdinand who likes to sit and smell the flowers.
He grows into the biggest and strongest of the bulls and is mistaken for an aggressive fighter. He’s chosen to be part of the bullfights, but his peaceful nature is soon revealed.
This story has a more natural flow of language instead of using poetry or rhyming and repetition.
It has everything that makes a book great for English learners and children learning to read, including a range of simple and advanced vocabulary and grammar concepts.
Learning English with Story Books for Kids
Reading children’s books is a great way to learn English at any age. Here are some of the reasons these books are such a beneficial learning resource:
- Memorable images. Many children’s books use pictures to illustrate what’s written. They do this so that kids can understand the story better. These illustrations (pictures) can be a huge help to you when learning English. By associating (connecting in your mind) a new vocabulary word or phrase with a picture or an object, it’s much easier to remember.
- Words in context. Similarly, words used in a real situation (in context) are also much easier to remember. Since the language in these books is quite simple, it’s easy to know what is going on. Therefore, when you come across a word that you don’t know, you can often use the story’s situation and images to understand the word’s meaning (without using a dictionary).
- Simple vocabulary and grammar. Even though some of the books above have “advanced” vocabulary, they really aren’t too difficult. They’re just harder than the very basic words that are most common in children’s books. For example, you might already know the word “smart,” but one of these books might say “clever.” It has almost the same meaning, but it’s a higher-level vocabulary word.
- Easily available read-alouds. Many classic children’s books have read-aloud versions that are free and easy to find on YouTube. A read-aloud is exactly what it sounds like: A person reads the book out loud, just like in an audiobook. If you have a physical copy of the book, you can listen to it as you read the words on the page to learn pronunciation.
- Great life lessons. Most children’s books teach children how to grow up and be a good person. However, even as teenagers and adults, these lessons are still true and important. Children might not fully understand or appreciate (value) the meaning behind the stories. However, as adults, these stories can have new meanings for us.
- Reading them is fun! The stories are enjoyable and the pictures help you make sense of the words (besides being nice to look at).
English learners can get frustrated when they choose books that go above their English reading levels. By focusing on children’s books first, you should have a very positive and successful learning experience.
If you enjoy this type of entertaining language learning, you can get a similar experience with FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
English children’s books are adored by many, children and adults alike.
Now you have 10 great options to add to your reading list or share with your family!
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.