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        10 Best ESL Books for Students & Language Learners

        • calenderAug 09, 2023
        • calender 5 min read

        As an ESL student, it can be hard to find good books to read. Stories 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 10 best books for ESL students.

        Apart from improving your second language learning abilities, these books will help you integrate new words into your everyday vocabulary. The absence of technicalities and unnecessary theory makes the process much easier!

        Want to elevate your writing to global standards?

        Here are the 10 best ESL books for students and language learners:

        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, Matilda, who learns to read at the tender age of three due to 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, making it the top ESL book on our list. 

        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. Not just ESL 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!

        The universality of the book’s lessons makes it easy for ESL readers to identify with the prince. As a children’s book, the language is simple and 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. This is 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, earning it a place in our top three ESL books.

        This book sparks your empathy toward learning disabilities. It also exposes you to a kind of language and style that piques your interest immediately. It is one of the few detective novels that engage an amateur reader in terms of style and story while also retaining the simplicity they require.


        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 following 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.This is the most quoted book for almost any situation you can name, but it is well worthy of that. This classic by J.K. Rowling is the first of a series of seven 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 engaging ESL books on this list.

        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?

        Megan 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.

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

        Fantastical in worldbuilding 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 bring you to 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.

        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 ESL 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 will 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. 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 that 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?


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

         Improved reading will only lead you to become a better writer, so we’ve got some tips to write for ESL speakers as well. Since we provide editing and proofreading services, we realize the importance of clear communication in English. Here are some more resources to help you learn English:

        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.

        5 comments on “10 Best ESL Books for Students & Language Learners

        1. Sadie H says:

          Excellent blog! Your list does includes some of the best ESL books, I have ready Tuesdays with Morrie and Matilda. Will read the others soon. Kudos!

        2. Kipp Price says:

          Great work, very helpful list

        3. Kathy McClinton says:

          Hey there, You’ve done an incredible job. I’m forwarding this to all my friends from the language learning club!
          I am sure they’ll benefit from this list of ESL books.

        4. Ladybird says:

          I really like your writing style, great info , thanks for posting : D.

        5. Magnolia M says:

          As an ESL student myself, I love this post. These are some easy-to-read and interesting ESL books!

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