Learning English Through Stories

Gaining a second language unlocks a whole world of new literature. It’s one of the great pleasures of being multilingual! The ability to lớn read another language’s classics in their original version can enrich your perspective on the world as well as your language skills.

Whatever stage your English reading skills are at, we’ve got a book recommendation: from philosophical children’s books lớn fast-paced thrillers khổng lồ literary fiction! 

15 great stories for learning English (listed by skill level)

When choosing a story book, it’s important to lớn remember that the English language changes very quickly, and you might be studying outdated terms. The Oxford English dictionary gains three new words every day! to lớn get the best value for your effort, it’s worth reading something up-to-date. 

Here are some options, ordered by skill màn chơi from easiest to lớn most advanced. 

Beginner level

Please note, if you are reading this article with ease, then the first two stories on this danh mục are definitely too basic for you. However, these suggestions might be useful khổng lồ help you teach someone else Beginner English! 

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle 

A children’s classic that follows the first week of a caterpillar. It teaches the names of some basic food products, and is beautifully illustrated. 

2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney

A graphic novel for children that’s great for learning up-to-date British slang. For context, “wimpy” means weak, uncourageous and easily bullied. Its style is lượt thích a comic book, so there are images to lớn provide context throughout. Since most of the text is speech, it’s best for those who are more interested in learning spoken English than written English.

3. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 


This is a classic novel that many North Americans study in high school, about the struggles of a Cuban fisherman to lớn catch an enormous fish called a giant marlin. Hemingway is renowned for his stripped back, direct style of writing — perfect for English learners. That said, the book was first published in 1952, so some of the language is a slightly old-fashioned now. 

Advanced level

At this level, you can pretty much read anything you’re interested in! Here are some suggestions to lớn get you started. 

12. Lớn Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

An absolute classic across the English-speaking world. It is written from the perspective of a young, trắng girl called Scout, as she grows up in 1930s America. Her father is a lawyer defending Tom Robinson, a đen man, who is about khổng lồ be punished for a terrible crime he did not commit. It is a very warm novel despite tackling such important themes. 

13. 1984, George Orwell 

A short, brilliant science fiction novel mix in a nightmare future where a government controls every aspect of its citizen’s lives, including language và thought. Truth no longer has any meaning, and the country is continually at war against an unknown enemy. The hero, Winston Smith, dreams of rebelling from his boring existence as a cog in the government’s wheel — & of falling in love.

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It is written in very direct English, and đơn hàng with ever-relevant themes of totalitarianism, mass surveillance, và freedom of personal expression. 

14. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain

A sweet story that follows the day-to-day adventures of a naughty schoolboy called Tom. He lives in a fictional town on the banks of the Mississippi with his aunt. It was written in 1876 so much of the language is outdated, but many students still choose lớn learn with it for its charm và insight into historical American culture. 

Fun fact: it was one of the first generation of stories ever written on a typewriter. 

15. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner tells the story of a young boy called Amir & his friends growing up during a politically turbulent period of Afghanistan’s history. It is a classic novel that many American và British high school students study. 

Bonus! New Yorker short stories, various authors 


The New Yorker magazine offers an excellent collection of short stories online. They are from a diverse selection of American perspectives, không tính phí to read & updated weekly. There is also a podcast for those who prefer lớn listen along to lớn their stories. 

Why reading stories is one of the best ways of learning English

Learning English through story is a fulfilling study method for several reasons. Get started và you’ll wonder why you never tried it before!

Take them at your own pace

Reading stories is one of the most relaxing ways to lớn learn English. That’s because you can control how fast you want to lớn take in the information you’re studying. You can re-read, skip or stop and kiểm tra sentences at your leisure. You could even try using audiobooks, if you enjoy them. This can be an excellent way to practice your English listening skills, và pick up vocabulary on the go.

However, bear in mind, that when practicing your listening skills, it’s more difficult lớn control how fast the speaker is talking. Even if you can — in the case of a YouTube video clip or a podcast, for instance — it can interrupt the flow of the experience.

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Writing and speaking are trickier skills khổng lồ master than listening for most ESL learners. They involve knowing enough English lớn produce whole sentences yourself. Reading is the only vi xử lý core skill that allows you lớn use English at the most comfortable pace for you.

Make fast progress


Most adult learners find reading lớn be the easiest of the four language skills lớn pick up, and it’s not just because it’s self-paced. It’s also because reading in a second language is pretty close to lớn reading something difficult in your first language. If you don’t know a word in a difficult sentence in your first language, you can usually work it out from context. It’s a natural way for adults lớn pick up new words in any language. 

Learning a language is immensely rewarding, but undeniably difficult. It’s normal to feel like your progress is moving too slowly. When you’re feeling frustrated, try reading some English stories. Commit to half an hour of reading English stories every day, & in no time at all you’ll be able to understand whole paragraphs with ease. It’s a beautiful feeling when this starts lớn happen — no pausing, no translating in your head, just smooth comprehension! 

See grammar in action

One awesome side-effect of improving your English reading skills? Your grammar will improve too. 

These days, language teachers often advise learners not to lớn obsess over grammatical rules. The theory is, that if learners get enough exposure lớn the language in its natural forms, they will absorb the rules naturally. Of course, when we were young, we engaged with a language through fairy tales, myths, & more! Read a lot of English stories, and you’ll get the chance to lớn learn English grammar in a more organic way. You’ll see the patterns you have studied in action, and things will start lớn click fast. 

If you listen to or read a good story, then the part of your brain associated with an emotion will light up, as if you’re experiencing it yourself. What that means is you’re involving your entire brain in the process. If you’re studying grammar, you’re using just one part of your brain, but when you learn through stories, you’re activating many different parts of your brain. That’s when synapses form new connections, và that’s when memory is formed.

Expand your vocabulary 

Reading stories is one of the best ways to lớn absorb new English words. When you discover new words within a story, you get a chance to lớn learn them in context. Often, you’ll have an “a-ha” moment when you work out what a new word means without needing to look it up, by spotting the clues in the sentence around it. 

Because your brain worked a little harder khổng lồ find the meaning of this word than just by checking a dictionary, it is more likely lớn “stick” in your brain. You’ll also be more sensitive to lớn the subtleties of how this word is used, which means you’re more likely to lớn use it correctly yourself. It’s more interesting than using flashcards và immeasurably more effective! 

Enjoy English in its most beautiful form


When people speak of the richness of the English language, they mean the English language as it is used in stories. When spoken, English is used in its simplest form. Grammatical rules are recklessly broken, & words are usually chosen based on the simplest one that will do, rather than the most specific option. 

The writing in English stories is closer khổng lồ the English you’ve studied in grammar exercises. The vocabulary is usually more artistic too. Writers spend time reflecting on the right words lớn use, considering subtle shades of meaning. 

If you’re studying English as a language lover as well as for more practical reasons, reading stories will be really rewarding. 

Take your language learning lớn the next level with heckorea.com

If you want lớn learn English stories, any of these would be a great place lớn start. However, if you want to find the kind of story that’ll change your life, a more personal book recommendation might be even better! 

Want a story chosen just for you based on your own tastes and skill level? Book 1-on-1 online lessons with an English tutor on heckorea.com, and you’ll have your own personal English expert lớn give you reading advice! 

heckorea.com lessons are also fully customizable. That means you could ask them lớn plan your lessons around a novel you’re reading, or even work through a story together.