BSC York student Hamad from Saudi Arabia enjoying the book ‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl

Reading books is one of the best ways to improve your English. Whether you’re preparing for an exam or just studying to improve your speaking and listening skills, reading is a fantastic way to gain new vocabulary, explore new structures, discover complex expressions, and really get a feel for the language. Unfortunately, though, sometimes it can be difficult to find the right kinds of the novel for beginners. That’s why we’ve created this list of the best English novels for English Language Learners.

What are the best easy novels for English Language Learners?

      The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is considered one of the best novels for English Language Learners

1.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night Time is a book about a young boy, Christopher, who has autism. Christopher goes to a special school and finds it very hard to understand and communicate with people from the outside world.  He discovers that his neighbour’s dog has been murdered and decides to investigate the crime. This takes him on a terrifying and challenging journey that changes his life.

The story is told by Christopher, which means the language is simple and easy to understand. Its short length also makes this book easy to read, even for beginners!

Fantastic Mr Fox is considered one of the best novels for English Language Learners

2. Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl

A great tip when choosing books to improve your English is to read stories written for children. We chose Fantastic Mr Fox, but we could have really chosen almost any book by the iconic writer Roald Dahl, who is arguably one of the greatest children’s authors of all time.

Fantastic Mr Fox is the story of three mean local farmers and a sly fox who steals their chickens, geese and apple cider to feed his family and friends. Boggis, Bunce and Bean (the horrible farmers) plan to capture the fox by digging into his home, but Fantastic Mr Fox has a plan of his own….

Another great thing about these books is the illustrations by Quentin Blake.  Reading a book with pictures also helps you to better understand the story.

The Old Man and the Sea is considered one of the best novels for English Language Learners

3.  The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea is a short novel about an epic battle between an old Cuban fisherman and a giant fish. Hemingway uses the simple story as a fable which explores the themes of challenge, courage, survival, defeat and personal triumph.

Hemingway is famous for his clean, minimalist style of writing, which is perfect for language learners.  Using short sentences and getting straight to the point, every level of an English learner will find the language in his books accessible.

Lord of the Flies is considered one of the best novels for English Language Learners

4.  Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Lord of the Flies is a modern classic, and a popular one to read at school.  It was once the set text for the Cambridge Advanced Exam, which makes it an even better book to help improve your English!  Whether you’ve read it in your own language or not, it’s a good one to try in English.

Lord of the Flies begins with a plane crash which leaves a group of boys marooned on an island.  Alone on the island, they elect a leader and create their own society.  Things go horribly wrong and a war for leadership begins.  The boys turn savage and form two rival tribes, resulting in panic, fear and death.

It will make you think about human nature. Will our cruelty and hunger for power end up destroying us?

Empty World

5.  Empty World – John Christopher

When Nick’s parents are killed in a car crash, he moves to live with his grandparents.  Shortly after the move, a deadly virus spreads around the world and kills most of the population.  Nick is left alone to survive in a lonely and empty world…..

The language in Empty World is simple because it was written for a teenage audience, but it is as dark, disturbing and thought-provoking as any adult book. Although it might be an easy read, it’s also one that will make you think!

To Kill a Mockingbird

6. To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic American novel that many students in the UK and the US will study in secondary school.

The book is set in in the United States and follows the story of a crime in a small, rural town and its repercussions. Its told from the point of view of a child, so the language is never overly complex, making it a great novel for English language beginners.

Harry Potter

7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

So it may be an obvious choice, but the early Harry Potter books make for a great introduction to the English language. Written for children and Young Adults, the language is somewhat simple, making the books accessible for people with a low level of English. If that wasn’t enough, you’re probably already familiar with the storyline- which always makes reading in your second language a lot easier!


We hope you enjoyed reading about some popular novels for English Language Learners. Do you want to learn English with native speakers? Check out our English courses and improve your English today.

All images are used for educational purposes to illustrate a critical analysis of the novels. All image rights belong to the book’s publisher or cover artist. Inclusion in this list is not an endorsement of the expressed views of each author.

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Best TV & Netflix Shows for Learning English

Best Songs for Learning English