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        10 Best ESL Books for Students & Language Learners

        • calenderOct 06, 2022
        • calender 5 min read

        As an ESL student, it can be hard to find good books to read. Books often come with complicated wordings and multi-layered themes, which are hard for an ESL reader to grasp. This makes it difficult for English language learners to understand the language, let alone the book! So, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 books for ESL students.

        Reading can help you speak and write better. It can put an end to grammar mistakes, which can be a huge hindrance in both academic and artistic writing.

        ESL books offer language learners an easy way to learn English. Instead of poring over tedious language learning tips, you might as well give good old reading a try! Apart from improving your second language learning abilities, it helps you integrate new words in your everyday vocabulary.

        Learning English through ESL books is one of the most efficient and enjoyable ways of learning a language. The absence of technicalities and unnecessary theory makes the process much easier.

        To develop a love for reading in English, you need to find the right kinds of books: uncomplicated vocabulary, simple syntax, linear plot, and an engaging conflict. This list has some ESL books from which you will never look back again!

        1. Matilda by Roald Dahl

        "Matilda" by Roald Dahl, the top entry in our list of the 10 best ESL books.Why don’t we start with a classic about the power of reading? Matilda by Roald Dahl is a heartwarming story about a tiny girl of five, Matilda, who learns to read at the tender age of three because of the continuous neglect of her parents and brother. She finds an unlikely listener in Miss Jenny, a kind-hearted schoolteacher, who treats her with respect and understanding. 

        The text is very simple and is peppered with wonderful illustrations by Quentin Blake. This book will propel you into the world of a serious reader who is merely five years old. 

        The style of storytelling is rich and engaging. The plot will warm the cockles of your heart and make the process of learning English more fun. We highly recommend that you start your never-ending reading journey with this ESL book. Not just students or language learners, anyone who reads it falls in love!

        2. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery

        Book cover of "The Little Prince", a great book for English language learners.

        Apart from the simple moral story at its core, The Little Prince is about so much more. A fox gives a little prince some important life lessons, teaching him to look from the heart instead of the eyes. The book is popularly categorized as “a children’s book for adults”, and we can’t agree more.

        Originally written in French, this book has been superbly translated into more than ten languages, including English. Its simple vocabulary and uncomplicated text will certainly make language learning easy for the ESL student.

        The universality of the book’s lessons makes it easy for the ESL reader to identify with the prince. As a children’s book, the language is obviously simple and straight to the point. However, this is also a great book for English language learners to probe deeper and interpret the book individually.

        Definitely a must-read, this ESL book is a great start to your reading adventure!

        3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

        Book cover of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"

        Christopher is a 15-year-old boy who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome. When his neighbors’ dog is murdered, he sets out in the nighttime to explore and find out what exactly happened to it. Truly, a murder mystery like no other!

        The language of the novel reflects Christopher’s problems with communication due to Asperger’s. His pin-straight logical nature makes this book a simple and easy read for ESL readers. 

        This book sparks your empathy towards learning disabilities. It also exposes you to a kind of language and style that piques your interest immediately. It is one of the fewer detective fiction novels that engage with an amateur reader in terms of style and story.

        It’s engaging, intriguing, and easy to read. Naturally, it makes the spot in our top three ESL books for language learners!

        4. The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé

        Compiled covers of "The Adventures of Tintin" comic book series.

        Surely, everyone adores comic books. What better way to improve your English than to read a fascinating comic full of travel and adventure?

        Tintin is a fearless reporter who travels all over the world solving many mysteries. His three companions in these endeavors are his dog Snowy, the brash and skeptical Captain Haddock, and the hearing-impaired, intelligent Professor Calculus. 

        Reading comics is an excellent way to learn English, so Tintin is definitely one of the best books for ESL students. English language learners are sure to love the Tintin comics!

        If you want to have a fun time circling the myriad cases Tintin takes on, read away!

        5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

        "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" by J. K. Rowling, an ESL book for students.Yes, yes we know. This is the most quoted book for almost any situation you can name, but it is a book well worthy of that. Written in 1997, this classic by J.K. Rowling is the first of a series of six books full of magic, adventure, and heroism.

        The book’s protagonist, Harry Potter (duh) is a wizard and has to begin his schooling at the age of 11 at the most prestigious school there is: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The books deal with his friendship with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, his enmity with Draco Malfoy, and his constant tussle with Voldemort, a dark wizard who is out for his blood. 

        The language is engaging and simple, which makes it a perfect book for ESL students. You will put down the book only after completing all of it in one sitting.

        This is the top choice for many ESL readers to learn English because it is, without a doubt, one of the most beloved books ever written in the English language.

        6.  A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

        Cover design of "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeline L'Engle.

        Two children and three witches going on an adventure, defying the boundaries of time. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

        Meg Murray and her brother, Charles Wallace, have been living without their father, Mr. Murray, ever since he discovered a way to travel to another planet with the help of a tesseract that he built.

        The children, joined by Meg’s classmate Calvin and three witches—Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which—travel to the planet to find their father. Little do they know that the planet is replete with all the evil in the world!

        Megan narrates the story, which makes it simple and without too many literary flourishes. The absence of complicated terms and metaphors make learning English more efficient and, at the same time, engaging.

        Fantastical in imagination but simple to comprehend, this ESL book is ideal for all English language learners!

        7. The Room on The Roof by Ruskin Bond

        Cover of "The Room on the Roof" by Ruskin Bond, a book for ESL learners.

        Ruskin Bond wrote this book when he was 17 years old, living alone in the quaint town of Dehradun in India.

        The book will plod you down in the middle of an imaginary meadow: tall pine trees with a cool breeze rushing through your hair. Makes you want to sit down with the book already, doesn’t it?

        Rusty, an orphaned Anglo-Indian boy, escapes his tyrannical guardian and finds shelter in a group of four boys: Kishen, Somi, Ranbir, and Suri. He finds employment as Kishen’s English tutor and becomes enamored with his mother, the beautiful Meena. The book trapezes through his daily life and the adventures that he has with his friends.

        The language is extremely simple and written in the style of an anecdote. If you want to live the life of the hills and, at the same time, familiarize yourself with learning the English language, this is the best book to read.

        8. Mieko and the Fifth Treasure by Eleanor Coerr

        An image of the hardcover copy of "Mieko and the Fifth Treasure" by Eleanor Coerr.

        At only 77 pages long, Mieko and the Fifth Treasure is probably the easiest to read out of all ESL books in this list.

        Mieko is a very talented calligrapher and artist, who is sent to live with her grandparents during the war. When she injures her hand during a bombing, Mieko is scared that she would lose her talent and her “fifth treasure”—the beauty in her heart. Her skills and her heart are the inspiration for her art, and she cannot be happy without them.

        The book is about her struggle to adjust in a school where the children are mean to her. But her spirits are lifted by her patient and kind grandparents. She becomes good friends with Yoshi, a kind-hearted boy, and his stern yet affectionate aunt.

        If you are looking for a heartwarming tale, you need not go any further.

        9. The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene

        "The Nancy Drew Series" by Caroline Keene, a great set of ESL books for beginners.

        Who wouldn’t want to read about a brilliant teenage detective solving mysteries like a pro?  Nancy Drew is the ultimate detective when it comes to solving cases regarding weird situations and dangerous crimes, and she’s up for any challenge you can throw at her!

        With simple yet engaging diction and riveting cases for you to keep track of, language learning will seem like a piece of cake with this mystery book series.

        It is the longest-running series, with 175 books being devoured by book lovers everywhere. Rest assured, English language learners won’t find a shortage of books here! Your reading journey with Nancy Drew is bound to be fun, adventurous, and helpful to English learning.

        10. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

        Book cover of "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom.

        A man sits with his old college professor who is slowly dying of a degenerative nerve disease and learns about valuable life lessons. And don’t worry, this is not one of those tedious, philosophical books which do nothing but preach!

        Tuesdays with Morrie revisits such kinship that you might have had with a great mentor in your life. This mentor may be a stranger you accidentally met on the bus, or a schoolteacher, or even your favorite author!

        Written in simple dialogue, this ESL book makes it easier for you to grasp some complicated moral questions, helping you seek some answers to your own philosophical wonderings.

        Sounds like a good read, doesn’t it?

        (Go)od Reads!

        So what are you waiting for? Brew a good cup of tea (or coffee, we don’t take sides) and curl up in your favorite reading spot. Improved reading will only lead you to become a better writer, and we’ve got some tips for that as well.

        Who knows, by the time you have absolutely plundered this list, you’d want another, bigger list of ESL books to devour!


        Found this article helpful?


        Prasanna Linkedin

        Prasanna is on a little break from academia and spends his time compiling fiction writing tips. He enjoys poetry, mythology, and drawing lotuses on any surface he can find.

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