Recommended Reading for English Learners
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 any more. 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 by 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 Swift (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 and woman in the English moors.