English Language Blog

Books for English Learners Posted by on Dec 2, 2021 in Culture, English Language

Image by Willgard Krause from Pixabay

For many of us, it’s time to start thinking about gifts for the holidays – either for a loved one or for yourself. There is nothing like a book as a gift. I have a very large library at home, but I can always remember who gave me a particular book. Just the idea that someone cared enough about me to select a book that they thought I’d like shows deep consideration. A book is a very personal gift.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know how many times I say that learning English is not easy. Native speakers can be awful at it. Learning the rules, understanding the nuances, trying to figure out how to pronounce something…It seems like the more you know the more confusing it becomes. But, with a great book at your fingertips, you have access to the answers of all your questions at any time. Or, you can settle in and appreciate how beautiful the language can be.

Here, then, are some suggestions for books that anyone who cares about English should have in their own private library.

For Children

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This picture storybook was designed for early readers. You’ll learn numbers, days of the week, food, and even science at a very basic but easy-to-follow level. The book is entertaining and clever. It is also one of the most beloved books of all time.

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

This warm, beautiful story uses language simply but effectively to teach some universal lessons about friendship and death. Remember the author’s name.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

You will find that this spectacularly well-written novel is actually a series of unified short tales about animals that behave very much like people. It is terribly British in nature and substance. It is also very funny and maybe the best book for adults disguised as a children’s story ever written.

For Mid-Level Learners

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Bradbury was a terrific master of the English language. He was also a great thinker. This novel (the title refers to the temperature at which paper burns) is a cautionary story of a future in which the government controls what you can read and think.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ve written about this book before. It’s an attempt by one of literature’s great geniuses to combine ancient English history and myths into a new mythology for younger readers. If you love the English language and want to read a great adventure, this is the book to start with.

For Advanced English Readers

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

This is the story of the Twentieth Century American experience as seen through the lives of two men who create comic books. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 and might be the best novel of this century.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Yet another book that I wrote about for this blog, this is probably the great American novel. I would guess that everyone who has read it will always remember the experience. If you know someone who has never read this book, please buy them a copy.


Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year by Allie Esiri

Here are 365 passages written by William Shakespeare, alongside unsung poems from lesser-known writers, for you to read and reflect on – one for every day of the year. You’ll be able to appreciate the gift of Shakespeare’s magical way with words even if you’ve never read him before.

A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clark Moore

Every home should have a copy of this delightful poem, commonly known as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. There are a lot of beautifully illustrated versions, so shop around!

For Reference

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White

Known simply as “Strunk and White” by English scholars and students, this is the style manual for writing English. It is the most important book about how to write English ever written. Get the version with a foreword by Roger Angell, wrap it up, and stick it in someone’s stocking for Christmas morning. If you don’t have a copy for yourself, ask Santa for one.

Go to your local, independent bookstore this week and find a book for the English language learner in your life.


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About the Author: Gary Locke

Gary is a semi-professional hyphenate.