Choosing appropriate reading materials can be difficult for learners and teachers. When you are trying to choose text to read in a different language, you may feel overwhelmed. Reading should be interesting and the level should not be too difficult. If you or your students are looking up words from every sentence, the reading level is too high. Here are a number of recommended reading lists that may help you choose some suitable reading for pleasure or study purposes. These include popular English authors and books in many genres, age-appropriate titles, blogs, magazines, newspapers and translated classics.
Suggested Fiction Authors for English Learners
These authors are recommended by English language teachers. These writers typically use language that is straightforward and concise. The typical ages or genres that these authors write for are shown in brackets. Author names are shown in alphabetical order by last name (so “Smith, John” is “John Smith”).
- Atwood, Margaret (adult)
- Blume, Judy (children and young adult)
- Carle, Eric (children)
- Clark, Mary Higgens (adult, mystery)
- Cleary, Beverly (children)
- Cousins, Lucy (children)
- Dahl, Roald (children and families)
- Hemingway, Ernest (adult)
- King, Stephen (thriller)
- Lowry, Lois (young adult)
- Steel, Danielle (romance)
- Steinbeck, John (adult)
- Seuss, Dr. (children)
- Tan, Amy (adult)
- White, E.B. (children and adults)
Age 0-3 (Fiction)
This list includes suggested pictures books that children can look at with parents or caregivers. These titles are suitable for reading aloud. They help children learn the names of letters, numbers, colours, animals, and everyday objects. These books are also useful for introducing the rhythm of English.
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin and Eric Carle ~ Introduces basic colours and animals.
- But not the hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton ~ A silly rhyming story about a hippo that finally joins in the fun.
- Chicka Chicka 1,2,3 by Bill Martin, Jr. and Michael Sampson ~ Memorable rhymes and bright colours for counting up to 101.
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault ~ A catchy rhyme for learning the letters of the alphabet.
- Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown ~ A classic goodnight story about familiar objects in a young child's world.
- Guess How Much I Love You? by Sam McBratney ~ A little rabbit explains to his dad how much he loves him.
- Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins ~ Playful rhymes about adorable, bright underwater creatures.
- Is your mama a llama? by Deborah Guarino ~ Lloyd the llama finds lots of other animals before his own mama.
- Mother Goose Collections of Nursery Rhymes ~ A collection of traditional fairy tales and nursery rhymes.
- Mouse Paint by Ellen Walsh ~ Three wise mice outsmart a cat and mix primary paint colours.
- Peek-a Who? by Nina Laden ~ Children guess which animal is peeking through the window.
- Red is Best by Kathy Stinson ~ A story about preferences from the perspective of a child.
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle ~ A classic story about a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly. Reviews quantities and food.
- The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson ~ A mouse takes a walk through the woods and outsmarts animals that want to eat him.
These books are recommended for reading aloud to children. They are also suitable for early readers. Many of these books contain repetition and rhyme.
- A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hobermann ~ A rhyming book about homes for all sorts of creatures and things.
- Alligator Pie (poems) by Dennis Lee ~ Silly rhymes for all ages.
- Amelia Bedelia series by Peggy Parish ~ A series of picture books about a housekeeper who take everything literally. Fun for learning English expressions.
- Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthall ~ A funny story about a role reversal.
- Biggest, Strongest, Fastest (non-fiction) by Steve Jenkins ~ World records of the animal kingdom. Introduces superlatives.
- Chicken Soup With Rice by Maurice Sendak ~ Rhyming poetry about the months of the year.
- Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin ~ Cows type letters to their farmer on a typewriter. Lots of repetition. Good for introducing persuasive writing.
- Corduroy by Don Freeman ~ The story of a bear and a girl who are destined to be best friends forever.
- Don’t Let the Pigeon series by Mo Willems ~ A humorous simplistic series about a pigeon who tells the reader how he wants to do and have things.
- Dr. Seuss (series of books such as Green Eggs and Ham, Fox in Sox, Hop on Pop, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish) ~ Rhyming books by a master storyteller. Great for phonics programs. Easy for early readers.
- If you give a Mouse (series) by Laura Numeroff ~ A series about a charming mouse. Can be used to introduces the "if" clause.
- Jillian Jiggs by Phoebe Gilman ~ A fun story about a messy child who drives her mom crazy. Fun for reading out loud and practising expressive reading. Lots of repetition.
- Punctuation takes a vacation by Robin Pulver ~ A fun story for introducing basic punctuation.
- Spotty, Stripy, Swirly: What are the patterns? by Jane Brocket ~ Vivid images for teaching about patterns.
- The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister ~ A classic moral tale about recognizing beauty that's on the inside.
- Where the Sidewalk Ends (poems) by Shel Silverstein ~ A collection of silly poems and drawings.
- Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne ~ A classic story about a group of friends.
- Yo! Yes by Chris Raschka ~ A simple tale of a new friendship between two boys who have many differences. Told in 34 words.
Age 8-12 (Chapter Books)
These are popular chapter books for young readers. Many of these can be enjoyed by all ages and are fun to read aloud.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl ~ A small group of children win an adventure into the mysterious chocolate factory. Their chaperones are shocked by the eccentric tour guide.
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White ~ A young girl adopts a baby pig and becomes attached to her barnyard friends.
- Dear Dumb Diary (diary series) by Jim Benton ~ Jamie Kelly tells her diary everything about middle school.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid (diary series) by Jeff Kinney ~ Greg Heffley is a middle schooler who is always getting into trouble. He confesses his worst experiences to his trusty diary.
- Fudge (series) by Judy Blume ~ A funny series about a young family. The main character starts out in fourth grade. His classmates are memorable characters.
- Goosebumps (mystery) by R.L. Stine ~ A children's horror fiction series. Features the supernatural world.
- Harry Potter series (fantasy) by J.K. Rowling ~ A fantasy series about a wizard and his friends and foes.
- James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl ~ A funny adventure about a child who finds a family in the most unexpected place.
- Journey Through Oz by L. Frank Baum ~ An adventure of a young girl who gets swept away in a tornado. The story features Dorothy's imaginary friends, including the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion.
- Little House on the Prairie (series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder ~ A series about a young American family living on a farm in Minnesota. Set in the 1870s and 80s.
- Magic Treehouse (series) by Marie Pope Osborne ~ A fantasy series about two young American children who go on adventures, missions, and quests. They often travel back in time and learn interesting history.
- Nancy Drew (mystery series) by Carolyn Keene ~ A series about a young female detective who solves mysteries.
- Ramona (series) by Beverly Cleary ~ A funny series about a young elementary school girl and her friends and family.
- Stuart Little by E.B. White ~ Adventures of a talking mouse who is born to human parents.
- The BFG by Roald Dahl ~ A funny tale about an illiterate giant who befriends a young orphan. Lots of word play. Fun for pronunciation and sentence structure practice.
- The Dragon’s Egg by Alison Baird ~ Ai Lien's special stone from China turns out to be a dragon's egg. The girl and the dragon enjoy some fun adventures together.
- The Hardy Boys (mystery series) by Franklin W. Dixon ~ American teenage boy detectives work together to solve mysteries.
- The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White ~ A swan is born with a voice. His life changes when he learns to play the trumpet.
Some of these books are assigned in high school classes, but all can be enjoyed for pleasure. These are books that teens recommend.
- A Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Peterson ~ Two young friends invent an imaginary place to escape from their troubles.
- Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne ~ In this travel adventure story, a rich English bachelor takes a bet from friends and, with a companion, attempts to circumnavigate the world in 80 days.
- Emily of New Moon by Lucy Maud Montgomery ~ A story about a young girl who wants to become a writer. This is the first of a series.
- Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling ~ Fantasy novels about a young wizard and his friends who take part in several quests to destroy a dark wizard.
- Holes by Louis Sachar ~ A boy who is wrongly accused of a crime is sentenced to do time at a juvenile detention camp. The boy uncovers the secret behind a family curse.
- I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith ~ The fictional journal of a young girl whose poor family is living in an old English castle.
- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry ~ A World War II inspired story about the evacuation of Jews from Denmark to Sweden.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens (non-fiction) by Sean Covey ~ A self-help book by the son of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey). Features true stories about teens who have overcome obstacles.
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain ~ The tale of a curious, young boy who loves adventures and stories.
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger ~ A classic, coming-of-age story of a young high school drop out who questions society. Deals with common problems facing American youth in the 1950s.
- The Diary of a Young Girl (non-fiction) by Anne Frank ~ A true-life journal of a young Dutch girl in hiding during the Nazi occupation.
- The Giver by Louis Lowry ~ A "utopian" society where everyone has a specific role turns out to be dystopian. One boy reveals the truth about his society through special training from an elder.
- The Hunger Games (trilogy) by Suzanne Collins ~ A science fiction series about a future nation where kids are forced to enter into an annual battle.
- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Anne Brashares ~ Four best friends are separated for the summer, but a pair of jeans holds them together.
- Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyers ~ A romantic vampire series for young adults.
These are popular English novels from many different genres that appeal to many adult readers. Some of these are taught in high school and post-secondary school courses. English learners may want to look for abridged versions of these books if the reading level is too high.
- Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt ~ A memoir by an Irish-American who spent his childhood in poverty with an alcoholic father.
- Angels and Demons by Dan Brown ~ A mystery thriller about a plot to destroy Vatican City.
- Animal Farm by George Orwell ~ A satire about corruption related to the Russian Revolution and the Stalin era.
- Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery ~ A series about a young Canadian orphan who is adopted by an elderly couple in PEI.
- Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut ~ A satirical story about an aging writer and a car salesman.
- Bridget Jones’s Diary Helen Fielding ~ The personal diary of an English woman who is tired of single life.
- Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood ~ A Canadian painter reminisces about her childhood friendships.
- Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown ~ A mystery novel about a murder at the Louvre Museum. Explores the history of Christianity.
- Fifth Business by Robertson Davies ~ A fictional memoir of a man who reminisces about his past while looking for meaning in his life.
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel ~ A Tamil man recounts his childhood experience of being stranded on a boat with a Bengal tiger.
- Mysteries by Agatha Christie ~ Over 60 detective stories.
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck ~ A story of two migrant field workers who dream of having their own land. Set in California during the Great Depression.
- Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ~ Stories about a detective from London, recorded by friend and biographer Dr. Watson.
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker ~ A story about female black women in the American South in the 1930s.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood ~ A science fiction novel about a future America where women's rights are removed.
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan ~ A story about the relationships and family secrets of four Chinese women living in America.
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini ~ A story of friendship that explores the history of Afghanistan.
- The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway ~ The story of an old, Cuban fisherman who is on a mission to make the catch of his life.
- The Pearl by John Steinbeck ~ A novella about the adventures of a pearl diver.
- The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd ~ A coming-of-age story set in the American South during the year of the Civil Rights Act.
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe ~ An African novel about a wrestling champion and his community in pre-colonial Nigeria.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ~ A classic American novel about racial injustice in America's Deep South.
Many English learners want to read the classics. Classics are works of literature that “stand the test of time”. Classics remain on best-seller lists for many years, and often became even more popular after the author’s death. The classics may be more enjoyable for language learners who have seen the movie or read the book in translation. The language used in classic literature is often old-fashioned. Some of the words and expressions are rarely used anymore. Language learners may want to look for abridged classics. These are books that have been rewritten in easier and more modern English. You can find most of these titles free as audiobooks and ebooks because they are in the public domain. Classics that were written for children can be enjoyed by all ages.
- 1984 by George Orwell ~ Winston lives in Oceania and works for the Ministry of Truth. He is tormented by "the Party" and its leader Big Brother who watches his every move.
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens ~ A holiday-themed novella about a grumpy man's encounter with three ghosts.
- Aesop’s Fables by Aesop ~ A collection of familiar tales with morals.
- A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway ~ A romance between an American lieutenant and a Scottish woman set during World War I. Based on Hemingway's own experiences.
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens ~ A story set in London and France during the French Revolution.
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (for all ages) ~ A young girl follows a rabbit down a rabbit hole and has several adventures as she tries to get home.
- Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (for all ages) ~ The coming-of-age story of a young, female orphan, set in Prince Edward Island, Canada.
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley ~ A futuristic tale about a "utopian" state with a unique class system based on five castes.
- Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell ~ A historical romance about a Southern belle.
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens ~ A coming-of-age classic about a British orphan named Pip.
- Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Smith (for all ages) ~ A series of misadventures on unknown islands faced by a ship's surgeon.
- Heidi by Johanna Spyri (for all ages) ~ About a young girl's life with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps.
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte ~ A coming-of-age tale about a young woman in England in the early nineteenth century.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (for young people and adults) ~ A romantic story about the home life (and gender constraints) of American girls and women in the late 1800s.
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding ~ A group of young boys survive a British plane crash. They explore human nature as they create their own society on an island.
- Moby-Dick by Herman Melville ~ An American classic about a sailor whose captain is obsessed with capturing a whale.
- Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (for all ages) ~ A children's adventure tale about an imaginary boy who refuses to grow up.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen ~ A much-loved tale about a young girl and her sisters, set in England during the turn of the nineteenth century.
- Tess of the d’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy ~ A tragic nineteenth century story about a girl who comes from a poor family and has an encounter with a rich man that changes the course of her life.
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck ~ A story about a family from Oklahoma during the Great Depression.
- The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (for all ages) ~ A classic collection of animal fables.
- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (for all ages) ~ A novella translated from French. A fallen pilot meets a young prince who has fallen to earth.
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien ~ A fantasy trilogy. A creature called a hobbit is sent on an important mission to save Middle Earth. His fellowship of friends helps him on his long journey.
- The Works of Shakespeare by William Shakespeare ~ Plays and poems by the most celebrated English writer of all time. Dramatic works include comedies, histories, and romances.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ~ A story about racial injustice in America's deep South during the Great Depression.
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain ~ The tale of a curious, young boy who loves adventures and stories.
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson ~ A classic pirate adventure story.
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau ~ The true story of a social experiment. A man spends two years in a cabin with only nature to keep him company.
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte ~ A turbulent love story between a man in woman in the English moors.
Popular Books That Have Been made into Movies
Some people prefer to read the original story in a book before watching the film adaptation. Other people watch the film and never read the book. Some English learners prefer to watch a movie first before reading the book. If readers are familiar with the characters and plot, they may understand the book more easily.
- Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (for all ages)
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (for all ages)
- Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
- Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
- Jaws by Peter Benchley
- My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
- Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (for all ages)
- Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King
- Star Wars by George Lucas
- The Bourne Trilogy by Robert Ludlum
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
- The English Patient by Micheal Ondatche
- The Firm by John Grisham
- The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende (for all ages)
- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
- The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (for all ages)
- Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer
- White Fang by Jack London
Non-fiction for Adults
This list includes a variety of popular non-fiction books. Non-fiction includes books such as biographies, memoirs, cookbooks, self-help titles, and information books.
- Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
- A Room of One’s Own by Virgina Woolf
- Chicken Soup for the Soul (series) by a variety of authors
- Conversations with J.K. Rowling by J.K. Rowling and Lindsey Fraser
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
- How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Marley and Me, John Grogan
- Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray
- Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
- Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
- The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
- The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
- The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
- What Colour is your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles
- What to Expect When you’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
Guided readers are books with simplified text for English learners. Some are original stories and others are abridged versions of classics. Abridged classics designed for adult literacy or young reader programs are also useful for English learners.
- Abridged Classics
- Cambridge English Readers
- Good Reads (adult literacy)
- Macmillan Readers
- Oxford Graded Readers
- Penguin Readers
Popular English Magazines
Here are some popular English magazines. These magazines are only available in some countries. You can also find reading content from these magazines online.
- Better Homes and Gardens
- Business Today
- Car and Driver
- Chickadee (for children)
- Good Housekeeping
- Mary Glasgow Magazine (for English learners)
- Men’s Health
- National Geographic
- Owl (for children)
- Popular Science
- Radio Times
- Reader’s Digest
- Rolling Stone
- Sports Illustrated
- The New Yorker
- Today’s Parent
- TV Week
- Women’s Health
Popular English Newspapers
These are some of the most popular English newspapers in circulation. Some of these may be available online.
- Chicago Tribune (US)
- Daily Mirror (UK)
- Daily News (US)
- Daily Sports (Japan)
- Daily Star (UK)
- Daily Telegraph (UK)
- Financial Times (UK)
- Herald Sun (Australia)
- Los Angeles Times (US)
- National Post (Canada)
- The Courier-Mail (Australia)
- The Daily Mail (UK)
- The Daily Telegraph
- The Denver Post (US)
- The Economist (UK)
- The Gazette (Canada)
- The Globe and Mail (Canada)
- The Guardian (UK)
- The New York Times (US)
- The Observer (UK)
- The People’s Daily (China)
- The Seattle Times (US)
- The Sun (UK)
- The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
- The Times (UK)
- The Times of India (India)
- The Vancouver Sun (Canada)
- The Wall Street Journal (US)
- The Washington Post (US)
- Toronto Star (Canada)
- USA Today (US)
Classics Traslated into English
Some English learners like reading translations of classic texts. This includes poetry, plays, novels and non-fiction. Learners may already have read the books or seen the adapted films in their own language. Since they are familiar with the plot, characters or other content they may find these works enjoyable in English too.
- One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic)
- The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz (Arabic)
- The Qu’ran (Arabic)
- Journey to the West by Wu Ch’eng-en (Chinese)
- Outlaws of the Marsh by Shi Mai’an (Chinese)
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong (Chinese)
- The Art of War (non-fiction) by Sun Wu (Chinese)
- The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin (Chinese)
- The Tao of Power (non-fiction) by Lao Tzu (Chinese)
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (Dutch)
- Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (French)
- Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (French)
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (French)
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (French)
- The Little Prince by Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry (French)
- The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (French)
- The Stranger by Albert Camus (French)
- All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (German)
- Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann (German)
- Heidi by Johanna Spyri (German)
- The Castle by Franz Kafka (German)
- Aesop’s Fables credited to Aesop (Greek)
- Odyssey (poem) by Homer (Greek)
- Oedipus the King (play) by Sophocles (Greek)
- The Hippocratic Corpus (non-fiction) by Hippocrates (Greek)
- The Histories (non-fiction) by Herodotus (Greek)
- The Republic (philosophy) by Plato (Greek)
- The Bible (Hebrew and Greek)
- Mahabharata by Ved Vyasa (Indian)
- My Experiments with Truth by Gujarati (Indian)
- Ramayana by Maharshi Valmiki (Indian)
- The Puranas by Indian writers (Indian)
- Volumes of Poetry by Rabindranath Tagore (Indian)
- If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Valino (Italian)
- The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (Italian)
- The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (Italian)
- The Divine Comedy by Dante (Italian)
- The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (Italian)
- Poetry and Prose by Rumi (Persian)
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Portuguese)
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Russian)
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Russian)
- Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (Russian)
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (Russian)
- The Master and Margarita Mikhail Bulgakov (Russian)
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (Russian)
- Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (Spanish)
- La Celestina by Fernando de Rojas (Spanish)
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Marquez (Spanish)
Here are some popular English blogs that have stood the test of time.
The above works selected for EnglishClub by Tara Benwell