When learning a language there are a few primary skills involved: speaking, writing, reading, and listening. One of the best ways to improve your reading skills is to read more books! This is advice you’ll find reiterated throughout all of ULC’s English classes in Singapore, and that’s because no matter your skill level, reading is always an effective way to improve. But choosing a book to start with can be daunting. English has an array of literary classics and contemporary best-sellers to choose from. To help you find an appropriate book for your reading level, we’ve compiled a list of our favourites. Keep reading to discover the best book to improve your English skills.
1. Fantastic Mr. Fox – Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl is a children’s fiction author who is famous for writing books like Mathilda and The BCF, both of which were adapted for film.
The Plot: The mean farmers in this novel are on a mission to evict Mr Fox and his family from their home. In order to survive, Mr Fox and his friends must come up with ingenious solutions to infiltrate the farms and take the food they need to survive. There are dangerous heists, underground caves, and the sweet taste of victory when they succeed. A light hearted and entertaining read for all levels.
Why Read It?: The language in this book is fairly simple. There are lots of rhyming poems throughout which provide a fun mental challenge for beginners to English and children. This book is recommended by our team at ULC as a complement to the English lessons for kids.
2. The Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling
This iconic fantasy series blew away a generation of readers and has been translated into over 60 languages. Try reading this book in the original English for a deeper reading experience that improves your English reading comprehension. This is the quintessential book to improve your English skills.
The Plot: Over 7 books, follow Harry Potter and his friends as they face terrifying goblins, dragons, magical plants and more all while trying to attend their magical school for witches and wizards. The themes vary from light to heavy and are ideal for teens or young adults.
Why Read It?: Like Fantastic Mr Fox, the Harry Potter series uses basic sentence constructions that are easy to follow. Rowling uses simple, everyday language alongside more unusual terms that provide a fun challenge to intermediate English learners. The series is available as an audiobook, which can help listeners with their listening comprehension as well. Learn English outside the classroom with Harry Potter books, and discuss what you’re reading with your English-speaking friends.
3. The Old Man And The Sea – Ernest Hemingway
This classic Hemmingway novella is firmly situated in the modern English canon. An allegorical novel, The Old Man and The Sea uses surprisingly simple language to capture complex ideas. There are many resources that analyse the meaning of this text that you can examine after reading, or even develop your own theories about what Hemmingway was saying.
The Plot: An old, impoverished man goes out on a fishing tip alone. There, he catches a huge glimmering fish and fights with it for three days with no food or water to sustain him. This book explores themes of courage, defeat, and triumph with a bittersweet ending.
Why Read It?: This book uses short, simple sentences that are easy to understand, but introduces dynamic works and images into the reader’s vocabulary. ‘Phosphorescent’ is one such word that an intermediate reader can look forward to learning in this book to improve their English.
4. The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time – Mark Haddon
More contemporary than the previous examples, this novel has quickly become a cult classic. Novel length and suspenseful, this is a great book to improve your English comprehension skills.
The Plot: A 15 year old boy with high-functioning autism sets out to discover who murdered the neighbour’s dog. Along the way, he discovers many unsettling and unexpected things.
Why Read It?: Written from the perspective of the boy Christopher, the book captures his inner landscape in simple English. More than this, the suspenseful tone and mystery elements are a great incentive to continue the book if you have trouble reading. Intermediate learners will find this book compelling for its mystery themes and flowing sentences.
5. Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell’s Outliers is a non-fiction alternative for readers who struggle to engage with fictional novels. It offers interesting insights into conceptions of success which may complement the English learning journey.
The Plot: Gladwell uses this book to challenge notions of success. He suggests that skill is complemented and even enhanced by a person’s environment which can determine their degree of success.
Why Read It?: This psychological book is ideal for working professionals and those attending a professional English class in Singapore. The language is more clinical, but not overly dense. It is ideal for advanced and business learners who want to understand the relationship between success, environment, and psychology.
Enter Into A New Chapter Of Learning With ULC
Books are a fantastic way to learn English, but they should complement structured lessons with a native-level speaker. At ULC, we offer an array of English classes in Singapore for all your learning needs. From English lessons for kids to business English for professionals, we’re certain we have the right course for you. If classes in group settings don’t work for you, consider private lessons where your tutor can help you achieve your English goals. Get in touch with the team today or sign up for classes to improve your English skills fast.