11 Best Books for ESL Students (And spark the love of reading!)

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Best Books for ESL Students

As an adult, ESL seems an easy subject to me because I have become fluent in speaking and writing English. However, that was not the initial situation when I was still completing my education. The main things that helped me were textbooks with easy explanations and examples and reading books.

If you’re an ESL student struggling with the subject, you’re in the right place. I have been in your shoes and can guide you about the best books that can help you.

Of course, you must also be eager to improve yourself in this subject. So here is a helpful list of the best books for ESL students.

If you prefer to focus on improving your listening skills, I encourage you to read this article: 11 Ways ESL Students Can Improve Their Listening Skills.

Things Consider When Buying The Best Books For ESL Students

You must consider the following factors to get the best books for ESL students easily:

1- Type Of Book

As a student, you must consider the type of ESL books you require for good progress. You may want an exercise workbook to master different concepts and phrases. Such books are designed for teenagers and adults to accommodate beginner to advanced studies.

You may also learn through reading fictional books. These books are mainly for young students such as school students. Adults can also read novels or non-fiction books to improve their English and speaking skills.

2- Brand Name

The brand name matters when getting the best books for ESL students because some publishers are well-known for making various grammar concepts easy. For instance, the English For Everyone book by DK is one of the top ones for ESL learning.

You should also consider the author’s name and background. Renowned ESL teachers with adequate knowledge publish some books. So you can rely on the book to offer you sound guidance and help during exams.

3- Price

Price is another primary factor that affects the decision to buy ESL books. Remember, you don’t have to get the most expensive book on the market. This is because quality and price are not related.

You can easily get a good ESL book for learning within a reasonable price range. The top thing that will help you is researching properly before buying a specific book.

4- Content: What the book is about?

The content of the ESL book is also worth considering because every book has different learning material. Some will use idioms and phrases to help you improve your skills. Meanwhile, others will offer a list of vocabulary words with meanings and usage examples.

You must understand your weakness in ESL learning and buy the book accordingly. If you don’t struggle with vocabulary, it is best to get a product with phrases and idioms. You may also buy a fictional novel instead to understand English styles better.

See also: 11 Ways ESL Students Can Improve Their Speaking Skills.

11 Best Books For ESL Students

Here are the eleven best books that will help you improve your ESL skills:

1- Wonder By R.J. Palacio

Wonder is a fictional book for middle-school ESL students due to the kid-friendly plot. The story touches on various aspects of today’s society, such as bullying, friendship, courage, and empathy. So it is an excellent tool to teach young kids about these sensitive topics.

The best thing is that the English of the book is relatively easy to understand. So Wonder is an excellent way to help you grasp various grammar concepts. You can also get the audiobook version of Wonder if you want to listen to English and improve your speaking skills.

Reasons To BuyReasons To Avoid
– It touches on various topics that middle-school students should be aware of
– Written in an easy way.
– It is available in an audiobook version
– Suitable for students aged nine to eleven
– It is not a practice book.
Table Contains The Pros And Cons Of Wonder Book – projectenglishmastery.com.

2- The Best Nest By P. D. Eastman

The Best Nest is a book for young kids from ages two to five. If you’re a parent looking to teach your child basic English to prepare them for school life, this product will help. The best feature of this book is that it is a picture book designed to teach your child names of various things.

Investing in the book The Best Nest will allow you to teach your young kid at home and help them become familiar with birds, different spots, and things. The book also comes in a complete colored version, so it will be easier for your child to grasp the content.

Reasons To BuyReasons To Avoid
– Best for young learners
– Contains pictures to encourage visual learning It allows for more active teaching
– Available in a colored version
– Not the best for teaching alphabet
Table Contains The Best Nest Pros And Cons – projectenglishmastery.com.

3- Compelling Conversations: Questions and Quotations on Timeless Topics- An Engaging ESL Textbook for Advanced Students By Eric H. Roth and Toni Aberson

ESL learning for young students is not much complex and does not require a lot of books. However, this is not the case for adults. You must get an advanced book such as Compelling Conversations to learn complex ESL concepts.

The best feature of this book is that it contains quotations on various topics. You can also learn 500 vocabulary words and about 250 proverbs using this book.

The book Compelling Conversations has been designed to help students advance easily in their college and university lives by understanding English properly.

Reasons To BuyReasons To Avoid
– Extensive learning material
– Suitable for adults
– It is used as a curriculum book in various schools
– The book has more than 1,400 questions for test preparation.
– It is helpful for only advanced ESL students.
Table Contains Compelling Conversations Book Pros And Cons – projectenglishmastery.com.

4- English for Everyone: Level 1: Beginner, Course Book: A Complete Self-Study Program

English For Everyone Coursebook is one of the best books for ESL students. The book is updated regularly to ensure it covers the latest syllabus topics. You can easily prepare for your IELTS or other ESL tests using the extensive content of this coursebook.

The best thing about the book English For Everyone Coursebook is that it comes in different levels. You can get the level one book if you’re a beginner and eager to learn new English concepts. You can purchase other levels when your ESL skills improve and you advance to a new class.

Reasons To BuyReasons To Avoid
– Good coursebook for mastering various concepts
– Suitable for beginners to advanced students
– It comes with supporting audio materials for better learning
– The books cover topics of major tests such as IELTS and TOEFL.
– The accent in audio materials differ, so it is not the best book for improving speaking skills.
Table Shows English For Everyone Coursebook Pros And Cons – projectenglishmastery.com.

5- Perfect English Grammar: The Indispensable Guide to Excellent Writing and Speaking By Grant Barrett

Perfect English Grammar is an excellent book for ESL students who want to improve their writing and speaking skills.

The author has highlighted various grammar concepts in the book for easy learning. Examples in this product are also catchy so that you can remember grammar rules easily.

However, the best part is that the book Perfect English Grammar comes with tricky questions and easy explanations. So you will not have to take stress about inadequate understanding.

You can solve questions and check the detailed answers when you get something wrong to grasp it better.

Reasons To BuyReasons To Avoid
– The book’s information is easy to grasp due to good writing.
– It has composition guidelines to help you with expressing yourself.
– Suitable for levels It also helps you master punctuation.
– It requires some addition of new material.
Table Displays Perfect English Grammar Pros And Cons – projectenglishmastery.com.

6- The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé

The Adventures of Tintin are one of my all-time favorite books, and I read all the series when I was a kid. They are a comic series following a young adventurer and reporter, Tintin, as he solves various mysteries in all sorts of complex cases.

The Adventures of Tintin are excellent for helping ESL students improve their language skills. I suggest you ask many follow-up questions to help your students develop critical thinking skills.

7- Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda by Roald Dahl is a touching story about a child learning to read and finding a true friend in her teacher, Miss Jenny, a kind-hearted school teacher who treats her with total respect and compassion. 

Matilda is an excellent book to read not only for ESL students but also for everyone interested in reading a captivating story.

8- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is an excellent book for ESL learners. Christopher is a 15-year-old boy suffering from Asperger’s syndrome. When his neighbor’s dog is murdered, he decides to explore and discover what exactly occurred to the dog in the nighttime. Indeed, who can say no to a good murder mystery?

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time promotes empathy toward learning disabilities. It is on the shortlist of very few detective fiction books that will keep ESL students captivated in style and story.

9- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was written in 1997 by J.K. Rowling and is the first of six books fun, adventure, and heroism.

Reading this book provides young learners with vocabulary and grammar that help them learn new expressions and widen their English language understanding, making it a perfect book for ESL students.

This book is one of the best choices for most ESL readers to learn English and one of the most beloved books ever written in English.

10Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Tuesdays with Morrie is a book about the practice of forgiveness for both others and oneself. It narrates Mitch Albom’s true story, an American journalist who was very close to his college professor, called Morrie Schwartz.

The book is written in an easy-to-follow dialogue style, making it easier for ESL students to grasp some difficult moral questions.

11- The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint Exupery

The Little Prince is a book about friendship, loneliness, sadness, and love, making the story relatable for any adult and young ESL learners. A fox gives a little prince some essential life lessons, teaching him to always look from the heart instead of the eyes.

The Little Prince by Antoine is an excellent book that will develop a love for reading in most ESL students

Final Thoughts

These are the eleven best books for ESL students. All of them are reliable to study due to the great learning material. The best thing is that they have been used by various students from across the globe and have proven effective for improving skills.

The best book for kids is Wonder because of the excellent writing and topics. Meanwhile, you should get compelling adults if you’re an advanced ESL student. This book has been designed to prepare you for classes and official examinations.

What to read next?


Hello friends, I am Altiné. I am SO excited you are here! I am the guy behind Project English Mastery. I am from Toronto, Canada. I graduated with a Master in International Economics and Finance from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. After working a few years in the banking industry and completing my 120 TEFL from the University Of Toronto, I decided to teach English in China. Project English Mastery is a blog that provides helpful resources for English Teachers and Learners: vocabulary and grammar, exercises, and class activities ideas and tips.

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