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Reading Skills: 5 Great Novels to Improve your English

May 28th 2018


Do you want to improve your English by reading but do not know which book to choose? Sometimes the story is too difficult to understand. There are too many words! If this is you, don’t panic!  TEG English, as always, can help you. Michelle, our teacher from TEG English Portsmouth, has put together a useful list of books you can read from Elementary to Advanced level which will help you improve your English reading skills.

  1. The story of Dr Doolittle: Animal Talk by Hugh Lofting (Easy Reader Classics) – Elementary

 The story: Dr Doolittle is a man who can speak to animals in their own languages.  He doesn’t want human patients, he wants animals.  He can tell children what their animals are saying.

Our recommendation: This is a really good first novel to read in English.  It is a fantasy and only has 32 pages.  Most importantly, it has short sentences and easy grammar.  Some vocabulary may be unfamiliar, but the story can be easily understood without reaching for your translator. If you enjoy reading this book, there are five others to read.

  1. Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl – Pre-Intermediate

The story: Mr Fox has been happily married to Mrs Fox for 12 years.  One day he breaks a promise to his wife and goes to his human neighbours’ farm and steals some food.  Mrs Fox is really not happy with him and neither are the farmers.  They tell Mr Fox to live underground and he must be very clever to survive.

Our recommendation: Although this is a children’s book, this story can be enjoyed by adult Pre-Intermediate students.  It has 96 pages.  It has short sentences and easy vocabulary.  The grammar is present simple and past simple.  Roald Dahl wrote many books, so there are plenty more to read.

  1. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – Intermediate

The story: Wilbur is a piglet who was born very small and weak.  Mr Arable, the farmer, wants to kill him.  Fern, Mr Arable’s daughter, asks her father to let Wilbur live.  Her father agrees and gives the pig to Fern to keep as her pet.  Wilbur is very happy and lives on the farm where he makes many new friends including Charlotte the spider.

Our recommendation: This is a great book for Intermediate students.  It has 92 pages.  It uses narrative tenses.  The story can be easily understood despite some unfamiliar vocabulary.

  1. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby – Upper Intermediate

The story: Rob Gordon’s girlfriend has left him.  He lives in London, is about 35 and owns a record shop called Championship Vinyl.  Rob and his staff, Dick and Barry, spend their time talking about music.  Rob starts thinking about his ex-girlfriends and tries to get in touch with them.

Our recommendation: This is a humorous novel for Upper-Intermediate students.  It deals with modern themes.  The writing and story are easily understandable.  It has 253 pages.  This is a great book to help you continue on your way to great English.

  1. One Day by David Nicholls – Advanced

The Story: Dexter and Emma graduate in 1988 and spend one night together.  They become friends and stay in touch.  This novel follows their lives on one day (15 July) for twenty years.

Our recommendation: Although this book deals with romance, both men and women will enjoy it.  It is funny, deals with modern themes and the characters have both good and bad qualities to their personalities.  It has 448 pages.

How do you know if you understood the story?

While you’re reading a book or when you’ve finished, improve your English by asking yourself these comprehension questions.

  1. Where is the book set? In which country and which year?
  2. Who are the main characters? What are their names, ages and jobs? What are their personalities? How do they relate to each other?
  3. Who are the other characters? How do they add to the story?
  4. What is the story about so far?
  5. What kind of book is it? Funny, romantic, etc.
  6. What do you think is going to happen?
  7. Are you enjoying it? Would you recommend it to other students?

If you read or have read any of these books, tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter or our web page.

Can you recommend any other books to help improve your English skills?

Keep reading!