The 25 Best Books for English Learners

A complete reading list for English students!

Did you know that recreational reading is one of the best ways to learn vocabulary? This is because – in order to learn new things – you need to stay engaged! For many students, standard exercise books can be helpful. But to keep variety in your learning, you need a diverse reading list. In this blog, we will introduce you to 25 of the most-enjoyed books for English learners. These are the best books for English learners who have a firm grasp of English, but want to explore the culture academically.

We have also chosen these books for their simplicity and accessibility. Many of these novels vary in length and complexity, so you can choose your difficulty. Reading is the best way to develop basic language skills regardless of the category of book. Keep reading for our comprehensive reading list for English Learners.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949)

Named as one of the most influential books of the 20th century. This story takes place in a dystopian society, covering hard-hitting topics like bureaucracy and totalitarianism. George Orwell’s masterpiece has long been “required reading” in English-speaking classrooms all over the world. This is due to its engaging use of language and symbolism while maintaining simplicity. For this reason, it would make an excellent choice for students looking to brush up on vocabulary and immerse themselves in a story.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (1958)

Covering the story of a young writer in New York City who befriends his eccentric neighbour Holly. This novella gave birth to one of the most popular movies of the 1950s. Filled with charm and easy-flowing common grammar, this story is bound to keep the reader interested. A bonus feature is having the film as a companion piece for additional comprehension. Read this book if you’re looking for the ultimate English reading experience.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963)

This haunting American classic acts as a deviation from comfortable reading, acting as a psychological thriller at points. As the only novel that was ever written by the famed Sylvia Plath, it’s truly one of a kind. For those who want to simplify their reading even further, her poetry is another excellent source of language learning without the commitment of a full-length novel.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)

Another American novel classic. This story is semi-autobiographical, based on the author’s post-grad adventures with friends. With a refreshing blend of conversational and formal language, this is an excellent source for English students. At only 320 pages, it’s a good book to read over a weekend for either passive learning or recreation.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920)

Winner of the first Pulitzer Prize for fiction written by a woman, this story covers romance and class struggles of the early 19th century. With historical fiction, the writing can sometimes be denser. But Edith Wharton does a wonderful job at keeping her work streamlined and enjoyable. There is also an accompanying film that makes an excellent reading companion for students who like imagery while reading romance novels.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

For English learners interested in English heritage and Gothic novels, this is the book for you. Loaded with intricate language and prose, Frankenstein is truly a masterpiece. Often assigned to students in English-speaking schools for its complicated grammar, it’s one of the greatest selling stories of all time.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908)

While this story was originally written for children, it’s long been regarded as a “must-read” in the UK. Set in Edwardian England, the reader follows 4 anthropomorphized animals: Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger. As one of the most famous children’s books ever written, it’s also enjoyed by adults as well. This is due to the mature themes found regarding class and decadence. The simplicity of this book’s language makes it an excellent learning tool for English students who are just starting out.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

This dystopian Canadian novel has been long regarded as a literary masterpiece. With its accompanying TV Series, it makes excellent reading material on screen and off. The story derives influence from the intricate writings of Henry Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (The Merchant’s Tale and The Parson’s Tale). It also covers various social, political, and religious trends in North America. For students who love more thought-provoking adult books, this story is a great place to start.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1850)

While Oliver Twist is the most famous coming of age story of Dickens’ works, David Copperfield offers a longer, more intricate story of an orphaned boy. With several adaptations available, this story is easily accessible for readers. It also provides a wonderful look into the culture and social issues of Dickensian England.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)

This story follows the misadventures of a young girl in a dream-like setting. Chances are, you may have already read this masterwork of children’s fiction. Or at least seen the vibrantly coloured Disney adaptation. It’s a beloved classic for many reasons, mainly its illustrative language. For those looking for simple grammar in the form of an adorable picture book, this is a fun way to spend a day.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

For readers who love a coming-of-age novel, this follows the story of 4 sisters growing up during the American civil war. With familiar themes such as domesticity, love, work, and family, it has something for everyone. The language is simple, concise, and easy to learn from to boot!

Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851)

A funny and gripping adventure story about revenge, Moby Dick is full of intricate metaphors. It’s especially useful for students who want to come back to a story again and again in their lifetime. Many people covet this story as a true masterwork of fiction.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)

This story features a collection of wild and unexpected tales based on trickery and lies. The American author and humorist Mark Twain made sure to pack this story full of metaphors and symbolism. This makes it an excellent read for people learning English who also love a good laugh.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)

Perhaps one of the most popular British books for English learners on this list! The first work of fiction published by J.R.R. Tolkien, this high-fantasy tale covers the exploits of a small man called Bilbo. The words are concise and simple, as he wrote this story for his children while away at war. Yet it still has enough maturity and magic to keep readers of all ages interested.

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)

As one of the greatest writers to come from the UK, this popular work is an absolute must-read. It follows a vividly pictured day in a single woman’s life as she prepares for a party. With a simple story, the language is what makes it truly special. Woolf’s writing style is unique and vibrant, and an excellent example of the English language in all its glory.

Brave New World

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

For those who enjoy commentary and social science, this is another great example of dystopian fiction. Listed in the top 100 best novels of all time, this story is a must-read for all students. The language is simple and easy flowing which makes it easy to keep up with.


Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

The iconic character Dracula was first featured in this gothic work of fiction. A fun activity while reading this book would be to chip away at the dozens of adaptations made through the decades (more than 200 films feature Dracula!). It’s a fun, accessible, spooky story. Perfect for any student with a wild imagination!

The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951)

With a large cult following, as well as being highly regarded by critics, The Catcher in the Rye is a classic work of American fiction. This award-winning book follows the story of an emotionally charged young man on the cusp of adulthood. For students who want a more psychological story packed with angst, this is an excellent choice.

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

Set at the height of the Jazz age in Long Island. This story follows the life of an eccentric millionaire as he pursues the love of his life, Daisy. A fabulous read for romantics and people who love a party atmosphere. The language of this story is also simple enough for anyone learning English to transcribe with ease.

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

This Pulitzer Prize-winning work of fiction was an instant success upon its publication. Following the story of a single father and his two children, this semi-autobiographical tale is based on the author’s hometown in Alabama. Used as required reading in classrooms all over the world, this story is sure to make an impression on any reader for its themes of racism and integrity.

Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899)

Set in the Congo, this story makes commentary on imperialism and racism. It’s loosely based on Conrad’s experience with a Belgian trading company in 1890. Because of its short length, it makes a great quick-read for a Saturday afternoon when you want to brush up on your English. This advanced book is the definition of a page-turner.

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)

For readers who like a modern classic adventure novel with power struggles, this is the book for you. It has been noted as one of the top 100 books for young adults. Because it’s intended for young readers, it makes superb reading material for English learners. Curl up with this story and enjoy a riveting tale of self-governing teenagers grappling with moral dilemmas at every turn.

Animal Farm

Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)

A short and sweet novella written by George Orwell, this book may appeal to the animal lovers out there. Following the rebellion of farm animals against their captor, adult novel imagines a world where livestock can live freely. Give this story a read for a fusion of politics and art, without the time commitment.

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (1937)

Set in the Great Depression in the United States, this story follows two men’s quest for independence and livelihoods. Steinbeck puts a great emphasis on dreams and aspirations in this story, making it relatable. Because of its relevance to the world of literature, it remains required reading in global classrooms.

Charlotte's Web

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952)

While this was initially written as a work of children’s literature, it has since gained popularity with adult readers as well. This is due to the readability of the sentences. Many liken the sentence structure of this book to swinging back and forth on a rope swing. Because of this, it makes an excellent work of fiction for English learners wanting to improve their reading levels as well.

Frog hugs world

Books for English Learners on LillyPad!

All of the books featured in this blog are either free or available to purchase on LillyPad! This app was designed with books for English learners as a priority. For easy learning, simply open a book of your choice and read with Lilly in 4 different ways!

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What’s the one thing that makes LillyPad so special? Lilly! She is a personal English tutor, and she has people talking all over the world! Lilly makes improving your English easy. With Lilly you can read books for English learners in four different ways, and you can read just about anything you love. And learning with Lilly, well that’s what you call liberating!

For learners of all ages striving to improve their English, LillyPad combines the most scientifically studied and recommended path to achieving English fluency and proficiency with today’s most brilliant technologies!

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At LillyPad, everything we do is focused on delivering a personalized journey that is meaningful and life-changing for our members. LillyPad isn’t just the next chapter in English learning…

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Bethany MacDonald

Bethany MacDonald

Bethany MacDonald has contributed articles since 2020. As their Blog Lead, she specialises in informative pieces on culture, education, and language learning

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