Books to Help ESL High School Students Improve Their English Language Skills

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Books to Help ESL High School Students Improve Their English Language Skills
Books to Help ESL High School Students Improve Their English Language Skills

I personally believe that reading is an important part of learning a second language because it not only helps to build vocabulary and comprehension but it can also provide insight into the culture and background of the language being studied.

For ESL high school students, reading novels can be both entertaining and educational and improve their skills and become more comfortable with the language.

There are many books available to ESL students that provide a fun and engaging challenge that will help them grow in their understanding of the English language. Here are some of the best novels that ESL high school students should consider reading.

If you are a middle school student looking for books to read, I also wrote a whole article about the best ESL books to help middle school students succeed.

1- The Giver by Lois Lowry

In The Giver, a character named Jonas lives in a seemingly perfect world where there are no wars, no poverty, and no pain.

As he enters adulthood, he is chosen to become the Receiver, the only person in his society with access to the memories of what life used to be like before it was so perfectly regulated.

This book is an excellent choice for ESL high school students because it introduces words they may not know while still being accessible and enjoyable to read.

2- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This Pulitzer Prize-winning classic follows Scout Finch, a young girl living in rural Alabama during the 1930s. The book revolves around her father, Atticus Finch’s defense of a black man accused of raping a white woman.

The book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee explores social themes, including racism, injustice, morality, courage, and compassion, through its characters’ experiences with bigotry and discrimination in their community.

I found this book to be great for ESL high school students because it challenges them to learn more complex words while also providing insight into American culture during this time period. The book is educational yet entertaining; it offers middle schoolers an insightful look into American culture while providing plenty of compelling drama along the way.

Also, the characters’ conversations give readers natural examples of how people actually talk in everyday life, which will help them develop their speaking skills as well.

3- The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger is a classic coming-of-age novel that follows Holden Caulfield as he navigates his way through New York City after being expelled from boarding school yet again. Holden’s struggles with growing up and trying to find his place in the world make this novel an excellent choice for ESL high school students as they, too, go through similar transitions in their lives.

I like that the writing style is straightforward yet engaging enough to keep readers hooked until the end. The story has been read by generations of teenagers, many of whom have related to its themes of confusion, alienation, and rebellion against conformity.

With its straightforward writing style and relatable characters, I believe that this novel is a great choice for ESL students looking to explore English literature while practicing their language skills.

4- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald follows Jay Gatsby’s pursuit of his former love Daisy Buchanan across Long Island during the Jazz Age (1920s).

The book examines themes such as wealth, classism, idealism vs. reality, ambition, decadence, nostalgia, and more through Gatsby’s story of unrequited love.

While there are some complex words and concepts throughout the book that may challenge ESL students at times, I believe that this classic piece of literature contains plenty of interesting ideas that make it an ideal read for those looking to expand their knowledge of English literature while learning more about American culture.

What to read next:

Concluding thoughts

I believe that books can be an amazing resource for helping ESL high school students improve their English skills while also having fun at the same time.

From classics such as The Giver and To Kill A Mockingbird to modern favorites like The Catcher In The Rye and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are plenty of books out there that can help these young learners grow both academically and emotionally.

In addition, all the books listed in this article will offer readers insight into American culture while helping them develop skills like comprehension, vocabulary building, or even critical thinking, which will help them become proficient speakers in no time.

If you or someone you know who is an ESL student studying at home or even looking for something interesting to read over summer break, I encourage you to point them toward one of these amazing novels. They won’t regret it!


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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