Reading is an excellent way to improve your overall language skills. While books geared toward (aimed at) language learning are useful, the way you really become fluent is through practice and repetition. The best way to practice English (if you don’t have a native English speaker around) is by reading books to improve English sentence structure, melody, and style!
Don’t be intimidated by reading a whole book in English. You can start with books for children and then when you feel more confident, try a more difficult book or a book you’ve already read in your own language. Don’t be embarrassed, either! Have a dictionary nearby if you need to look up a word.
I find it extremely (very, very) useful to read out loud sometimes so that you also hear the words spoken aloud along with the perfect grammar and preposition usage!
Here’s a list of 9 books to improve English vocabulary, comprehension, syntax, and fluency that aren’t grammar books! (Check out this list on how to use more English everyday)
Goodnight Moon is a classic of children’s literature. The sentences are very simple so it’s the perfect first read if you’re just starting English. It’s a great bedtime story to read to your children as well, as it’s about a small bunny saying goodnight to everything in its bedroom before going to sleep. (Check out our blog from last week on how to incorporate more English at home and with your children.)
The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree is another classic children’s book, but for some reason I didn’t read it until I was in college. The Giving Tree is about a tree that loves a boy and gives everything (really, everything) for him.
In fact, any of Shel Silverstein’s books are good to read, as they’re full of funny short stories and poems.
Where the Wild Things Are
This is my favorite children’s book of all time and one of the many examples of books to improve English storytelling with past tenses. Where the Wild Things Are is about a boy named Max who runs away one night and ends up finding the Wild Things. Pick up this book and let the wild rumpus start!
This book by E.B. White is about two unlikely friends: a spider and a pig. You read that right. It’s a beautiful story of friendship and how we can help each other even when it seems unlikely. It’s another classic that many English speakers will have read, so it’ll be very easy to start a conversation about it the next time you have a conversation about literature. The story is fun and definitely one of those books to improve English conversation styles!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
You may have read Harry Potter in your native language, and if you have, that’s even better! Since you already know the story, it’ll be easier to follow in English. Give it a shot and relive the magic (literally and figuratively!) in your second language. Same goes with the Twilight series, Lord of the Rings, or any other fantasy story you’ve enjoyed over the last few years.
Winnie the Pooh
Another classic book that I didn’t read until college, Winnie the Pooh is full of wonderful life lessons from a boy and his bear living in the Hundred Acre Wood. Revisit your childhood (or discover it again) all while practicing your English skills. This book would be particularly fun to read to your children, as well!
Holes is great and funny book about a boy who is sent to a camp where all they do is dig holes. Why are these boys digging holes instead of doing normal camp things? If you like a bit of mystery, then this is the book for you. As far as books to improve English are concerned, you’ll hardly notice you’re reading in English the story is so interesting!
Pippi Longsocking seems to be a classic all over the world, and like Harry Potter, this makes it a great book to practice with. Trying to find books that you already know in your native language might seem redundant (unnecessary, useless, repetitive), but it allows you to focus more on the grammar, sentence structure, prepositions, and noun-verb collocations instead of trying to sort out the story.
Do you like books about dystopian societies (societies that form after the world has ended)? Then check out The Giver. It’s about a boy living in a world that only sees in black and white and his job is to remember for society.
There’s a movie for many of these books as well, so you can read the book, then watch the movie in English (with or WITHOUT subtitles) to improve even more!
Have you read any of these books? Which are some of your favorite books to improve English? Share with us in the comments below!
Erin Duffin lives in Berlin, is an English teacher, yoga instructor, and avid reader, as you can see! She’s love to see your recommended reading list as well!