Reading a book in English may seem like a difficult undertaking. However, there are many book options out there for all levels of English language learners. Whether you’re a fan of graphic novels, poetry, or literary classics, there is something waiting for everyone. Plus, if you’re studying English in New York City, there is no shortage of excellent bookstores to visit. So with all that in mind, let’s check out some books for ESL students:   

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway 

Written by well-known American author Ernest Hemingwy, this short novel tells the story of an aging fisherman and his battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Cuba. Dealing with classic themes of pride, friendship, and honor, this book is both relatable and timeless. Its simplicity of language makes it the perfect choice for someone picking up an English book for the first time.

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

This short novel tells the story of a man who is reincarnated over ten thousand lifetimes to be with his one true love: Death herself. It’s funny, captivating, and a great read for anybody interested in fantasy or science fiction. It’s not a very dense read so ESL students won’t have too much trouble getting through it.

The Watchmen by Alan Moore

Graphic novels are a great introduction to reading in English. They are essentially just longer comic books with more characters, action, and of course, stunning graphics. Often considered to be the best graphic novel of its time, The Watchmen is sure to reel in even the most reluctant first time English reader. This is a must read for any superhero fans!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Who doesn’t love a good story about a group of teens forced to kill each other for the better of the state? Each book in the Hunger Games trilogy is a guaranteed page-turner. As with most Young Adult fiction, the story is full of drama, action, and romance. Plus, the accessible language makes it an ideal read for ESL students.

The Giver by Loris Lowry

A common required read across the country, The Giver is a timeless story of a dystopian society. Written from the point of view of an eleven year old boy living in an “ideal” futuristic society, this novel deals with themes of individuality, freedom of choice, the relationship between memory and wisdom, and the importance of human emotion. The grammar isn’t complex and the vocabulary is within reach for English language learners. While the story is quite long, sentences are short and the storyline is easy to follow.

Pearson Readers

Covering everything from classics to blockbuster film titles, Pearson Readers provide ESL students with a wide range of graded readers to choose from. This means Adult learners don’t have to start off by reading a children’s books. Instead, they can begin reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Secret Garden, or the screenplay for Love, Actually. With so many titles to choose from, there is bound to be something to read for everybody.

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

Rolald Dahl is world-renowned for his imaginative stories. Danny the Champion of the World is no exception. This celebrated book centers around a young boy, his father, and their not0so-average way of life in the Buckinghamshire landscape. Unlike some of Dahl’s other books, this one uses simple vocabulary and grammar, making it very approachable for ESL students.

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

For English learners interested in poetry, this collection of poems written by contemporary author, Rupi Kaur, is a good start. She has an excellent ability to capture the complexities of human existence in a simplistic manner. This is a good option for more advanced learners wishing to improve their critical thinking skills.  


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