Magazine topic: 
Books
Total votes: 212

Learning English by reading books

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by : 
RosemaryM

Reading books can be a great way to pick up new vocabulary, see grammar in action and develop your understanding of a language. The key to success is choosing the right book for you.

For beginners, I would recommend starting with something short and simple. Avoid the classics for now - they often use archaic (very old!) English words and can involve complex themes. Children's books are a great place to start. Roald Dahl has written many superb books (Fantastic Mr Fox is my personal favourite!) and Dr Seuss's books are guaranteed to make you laugh. Dr Seuss writes his books in rhyme and they are all very funny - The Cat in the Hat is probably his most well-known book. Starting with something like this means you are more likely to finish the book and want to read more.

For more advanced learners, you could try The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. The book isn't too long and if you've seen the film it may be easier to follow. If you like reading about historical events, Anne Holm's I am David is a short story about a boy trying to find his mother during World War 2. Holes by Louis Sachar is also a great read.

If you're not quite ready to read a full book, why not try Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes? This book contains lots of short stories, based on fairy tales, all written in rhyme. Or, try a very short book - like one from Roger Hargreaves's Mr Men and Little Miss series. Although they are intended for young children, they are a good way to pick up some more basic vocabulary.

My final piece of advice would be to read something that interests you. Look at the blurb (the short summary of the book, found on the back cover) and see if it looks like something that you would enjoy. Think about the genres that you enjoy in your own language and find an equivalent in English. This way, you're more likely to enjoy reading, rather than see it as a chore.

Discussion

Do you ever read books in English? Which book would you recommend? 

Comments

Ninni's picture
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Ninni 13 October, 2016 - 20:15

Hello! my english level is b1 - b2 . can anyone help me to choose book which would not be too hard and not too easy?
P.s i didnot like fantasy and history very much

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Tina - Coordinator's picture
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Tina - Coordinator 14 October, 2016 - 08:19

Hello Ninni ☺ 
It's great that you want to have a go at reading in English!
You could check out our Easy Reading section which has stories and articles written at different levels, including B1 and B2. 
Best wishes, Tina (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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Shamair's picture
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Shamair 30 June, 2016 - 22:22

My name is Shamair I am from Pakistan I wanna tell u my english is so weak I can't speak properly and also I can't understand properly so tell me how can I improve my eng because I want talk to with everyone I can't speak properly and my confidence is also so weak so plz what can I do I love english but its very difficult for me I can't understand the reading I hope u have got my point I am making so alot of plz help me I saw all the comments every people said thanks and said love u because u helped them so plz help me to improve my english I will be waiting for your reply....!!Bye I hope u will help me and I hope u will reply my msg soon have a nice day.

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JoEditor's picture
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JoEditor 4 July, 2016 - 13:32

Hi Shamair,
Thanks for your message. You can use LearnEnglish Teens as much as you like to help you improve your level of English. We are working on a new section to help with speaking skills - we hope it will be ready by October at the latest. For now, do as much reading and listening as you can. Use the Skills section to help you. Start with level A1 and work through the activities. Also, have a look at the Vocabulary exercises
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

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niki220's picture
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niki220 19 August, 2015 - 15:02

I would love to read English books, but, unfortunately, I don't know where to find it.I don't like e-books. Are there someone from Serbia or other Balcan country who reads English books? I would love to ask you where did you find them? Did you buy them or take from the library?

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Saionji's picture
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Saionji 28 April, 2015 - 14:37

Hi RosemaryM,
Thank you for the article, I,m a beginner in English and I love reading English books ,I read different types of stories, for the classic stories I read the shorted copies but some times I read the full version .
I read the shorted copy of Oliver twist by Charles Dickens and too much tales from Shakespeare .And I read the full versions of six tales for Alexandre Dumas.
Right now I,m reading a collection about Malcolm X more than 1000 pages but I never get bored I really enjoy reading about him.have you ever read about him?

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RosemaryM's picture
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RosemaryM 28 April, 2015 - 17:50

Hi Saionji,

Wow - that's incredible that you're already reading things by Charles Dickens and Shakespeare! I have never read about Malcolm X; I tend to read more fiction than non-fiction. Do you have a favourite book?

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Silvermist's picture
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Silvermist 3 April, 2015 - 11:14

yes indeed ,
pride and prejudice, sense and sensibility. for classical language
Divergent for strong beautiful words......dauntless, and many more
hunger games
Percy Jackson for casual language
and Q and A for great story.
and loads more like harry potter, twilight, Lord of the rings.
they bring such thrill, my friends!

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45 users have voted.
RosemaryM's picture
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RosemaryM 7 April, 2015 - 07:11

Hi Silvermist,

You read a wide range of books - that's really impressive! When you read classics, do you read the full version or the abridged (shortened) version? 

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Silvermist's picture
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Silvermist 9 April, 2015 - 07:55

Hi Rosemary M,
I always prefer reading the full version and would only read the abridged version if I couldn't find the unabridged. And it is annoying to read the abridged after reading the full version( I had to read both for school purposes) because most of the long beautiful descriptions are cut down and many interesting scenes cannot be found.
Have you read the Divergent series?

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RosemaryM's picture
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RosemaryM 9 April, 2015 - 12:10

Hi Silvermist,

I completely agree with you - the unabridged versions just aren't quite the same as the unabridged, original versions! I haven't read the Divergent series, could you tell me anymore about them?

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hadia's picture
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hadia 31 March, 2015 - 10:49

Thanks for the article RosemaryM
well....... I like to read English novels and I also read science books having scientific knowledge. Usually, I read English novels in my vacation or even during my school times. My favourite books are many! and I'll recommend (for starters) that they should read fairytales and short stories especially that of Enid Blyton this will increase reading skills and vocabulary as well. (for advanced learners) they should read novels of Thomas Hardy, Charles dickens, and Jane Austen. they are very helpful and add to our vocabulary. I also read their novels and it has been so good for me as I'm a very good speaker and reader . reading books enhance our writing skills as well;by adding creativeness in our mind! While reading a book the reader enters into the world created by the author and it creates a link between the three i.e the author, the reader and the book and as a result we imagine every happening of the book in our mind. They build the feeling of imagination and innovation in us. Thus, books are superb source of knowledge. The recommendations given in this article are very beneficial for the English learners. Thanks a lot for the recommendations once again. :)

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47 users have voted.
RosemaryM's picture
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RosemaryM 1 April, 2015 - 08:03

Hi hadia,

It sounds like you read a lot of books - that's great! Enid Blyton's books are fantastic - I enjoyed reading the Famous Five series when I was younger. You mention several authors - do you have a favourite?

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hadia's picture
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hadia 2 April, 2015 - 07:23

Hi RosemaryM!
you're right! i've read many books and the book you mentioned ''Famous Five'' was also my favourite when I was a child. Actually I got it when I was in grade 5 , when I won a quiz competition and I really enjoyed reading it! yeah I've a favourite author and he is Charles Dickens , I have read his many novels and I always love reading them even thrice or more! Hans christian Anderson was among my favourite when I was a child! Have you read his books?

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RosemaryM's picture
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RosemaryM 2 April, 2015 - 09:17

Hi hadia,

Wow - reading Charles Dickens' books is impressive! I've only ever read the first chapter of Great Expectations - I'm not a big fan of classical literature. I haven't read the original fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson; when I was little I did read the Disney versions of his stories. I like animals a lot and when I was younger I read almost all of the Animal Ark series - over 50 books! - which were about a vet's family. Now, I like reading a lot of books by Jodi Picoult (the author of My Sister's Keeper).

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hadia's picture
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hadia 3 April, 2015 - 07:23

Hi RosemaryM!
It's amazing! It seems that you like animals a lot ......................Well Jodi Picoult's My Sister's keeper was also a good one I also liked the author . have you read any of Charlotte Bronte? I like his Jane Eyre a lot!

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RosemaryM's picture
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RosemaryM 3 April, 2015 - 09:18

Hi hadia,

I have never read anything by Charlotte Bronte, although recently I had to write a blurb for Jane Eyre as part of a job application! At school, we read Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, Much Ado About Nothing and The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare and a few other classics. Recently I read About a Boy, by Nick Hornby. It was quite a good book, and I've heard there is also a film version. Have a good weekend!

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hadia's picture
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hadia 3 April, 2015 - 12:04

Hi RosemaryM!
I've read Wuthering Heights by Thomas Hardy. He is a very good author! Shakespeare has always been among my favourites! Sorry but I've not read any of Nick Hornby! but if I'll find time I'll try reading About a Child!
Thanks a lot for sharing your reading experience with me. It was lovely talking with you!
Best wishes, hadia

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Saionji's picture
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Saionji 28 April, 2015 - 18:36

Hi Hadia,
I’ve also read Wuthering Heights it was my favorite when I was younger (by the way I,m 13 years old and my level in English is pre-intermediate) have you read (The Taming of the shrew The tempest) for Shakespeare ?

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hadia's picture
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hadia 29 April, 2015 - 09:07

Hi Saionji!
Well it's very good that you have read many novels and books at a very small age! It looks like you are fond of reading books! I also like reading a lot of books! The plays you mentioned by Shakespeare are both very interesting. Actually, I have not read the full version I read only summary of them because there are many of his plays and I have not read all.......... I have read Shakespeare's plays like hamlet. Romeo and Juliet , the Merchant of Venice and Macbeth! Have you read any of these which i mentioned!
Waiting for your reply, hadia :)

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Saionji's picture
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Saionji 1 May, 2015 - 14:38

Hi Hadia ,
I,ve read the Merchant of Venice , Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth they were really interesting.
Which other authors do you recommend?
Saionji,

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BlazeTech's picture
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BlazeTech 26 March, 2015 - 19:24

Thanks for the recommendations! really good and i would recommend to people that if they like Greek mythology i would recommend Percy Jackson book they are adventure and also give you info. xD

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TripleSwag's picture
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TripleSwag 26 March, 2015 - 19:21

I really liked it because it has variety of recommend books and also i like reading the percy Jackson book because it all about the god.

:) :P xD

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QueenGold7's picture
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QueenGold7 26 March, 2015 - 11:51

I really enjoy reading books in English. Now I'm reading "Tom Sayer" in English. It's a really good book about boy's adventures. I recommend it.

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Lavender 26 March, 2015 - 02:39

Harry Potter is my favorite book. But I read it in my language because the book is too thick it makes me feel frustrated. However I tried to read short stories in English like Pocahontas and fairy tales.

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RosemaryM's picture
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RosemaryM 26 March, 2015 - 12:35

Hi Lavender,
Fairy tales are a good place to start! Have you got a favourite fairy tale? I remember reading Harry Potter in French (my second language) for the first time. Although some of the books are quite long, because you already know what happens it makes them easier to read :)

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Lavender's picture
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Lavender 27 March, 2015 - 13:50

Hi Rosemary. I like to read Andersen fairy tales. My favorite is Snow Queen. You are so lucky because Harry Potter original language is English, so you can understand all the humorous conversations in it, and the English culture, which is not easy to translate. I like to read Fred and George's talk and Dumbledore's speech and conversation with Harry because I was curious what they say in English. And you are right, it was easier as I already knew what happened.

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hadia's picture
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hadia 2 April, 2015 - 09:34

Hi Lavender! I also like reading Anderson fairy tales. Snow Queen was a very good one. I've also read it!

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sau's picture
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sau 25 March, 2015 - 18:13

Hello everybody ;)
Well, in Russia we have a course called "Английский клуб" or "English club". This course includes different books, from BEGINNER to ADVANCED levels (6 levels in total). Earnestly recomend it for every Russian student who is styding English.
By the way, reading is really great way to study languages. I'm trying to read down to the last page the book called "The Wind In The Willows", but it's hard sometimes.
Thanks for this article, Rosemary!

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RosemaryM's picture
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RosemaryM 26 March, 2015 - 12:33

Hi sau,
That sounds like a great course to follow! I remember reading The Wind in the Willows when I was younger - I really enjoyed it. Sometimes, you can find abridged (shortened) versions of some books which can be useful if you don't want to tackle a very long book but want to get an idea of what it is about.

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AnneS 25 March, 2015 - 14:22

Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes can also be found in audio form if you prefer to listen to a story rather than read it. I enjoyed this article, thanks Rosemary!

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