8 Beginner English Book Recommendations [Advanced English Lesson]

Hi, I’m Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com. Today, we’re gonna talk about books. Let’s get started. Today, I’m gonna quickly talk about eight
books that are great if you’ve never read a book in English before. All of these books use simple language, simple
vocabulary, but the stories are engaging and interesting, and they move quickly, so you
don’t have to read pages and pages of descriptions of the scenery or of some deep character. Well, in these books, they are generally for
upper elementary school kids, so nine-year-old, 10-year-old, 11, 12, 13-year-old. This age group usually reads interesting books,
but books that use relatively simple language. So I recommend, if you’ve never read a book
before in English, use one of these books. Get one of these books off of Amazon or other
places that you can get books in English and try it. Take some time. Take a couple weeks to try to read one of
these. Because there’s eight books, there’s a lot
of material, so I’m gonna try to go quickly to help you really get an idea for each of
these and choose the right book for you. Let’s start with the first one. The first book is Roald Dahl’s James and the
Giant Peach. This book is about a little boy who tries
to escape from his terrible aunts, who he’s living with, and he goes inside an amazing
giant peach, and has a lot of adventures as he’s traveling from London to the U.S. I think
that this book is pretty well-known. The story is well-known. Maybe you’ve seen the movie, but take some
time to read the book. It’s not so long. There’s some pictures, and I’m gonna read
you the first couple sentences so that you can have an idea about the language that’s
used. Are you ready? “Until he was four years old, James Henry
Trotter had had a happy life. He lived peacefully with his mother and father
in a beautiful house, beside the sea. There were always plenty of other children
for him to play with, and there was a sandy beach for him to run about on and the ocean
to paddle in. It was the perfect life for a small boy. Then, one day, James’ mother and father went
to London to do some shopping and there, a terrible thing happened.” I’m not gonna tell you what happened. You’ll have to read the book to find out. This is our first book and the most simple. We’re gonna start with the most simple and
then go up to a little more challenging, but all of these really, you could read if you’ve
never read a book in English before. Let’s go to the second one. The second book is a little more serious. It is Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. This book is about a little girl in Denmark,
who decides to hide and try to save her Jewish friend during World War II. So this book, as you can imagine, is not as
funny as the first book, but it also has an interesting storyline. I’m gonna read you the first couple sentences,
so that you can get an idea for the language. “Why are you running? ‘I’ll race you to the corner, Ellen,’ Annemarie
adjusted her thick leather pack on her back, so that her school books balanced evenly. ‘Ready?’ She looked at her best friend. Ellen made a face. ‘No,’ she said, laughing. ‘You know I can’t beat you. My legs aren’t as long. Can’t we just walk, like civilized people?’ She was a stocky 10-year-old, unlike lanky
Annemarie.” So, as you can tell from the first few sentences
of this book, there are probably a few words that might be new to you, such as stocky,
lanky. Well, these words are important for the story,
but they’re not essential. So, as you’re reading, you can understand
the general idea, and then if you want to underline those new words and look them up
immediately or look them up later, you can get a better idea for these specific words,
but they’re not gonna stop you from understanding the general story. I think, for me, when I read my first book
in French, when I finished the book, I felt so accomplished. I felt like I had done something amazing,
even though the book wasn’t that long, it was maybe something like this, I felt amazing
because I finished the book and I generally understood the story. So, if you can generally understand the story
and gain that confidence that, “Yes, I can do it. I can read a book in English,” then you can
go back and you can learn the specific words, or you could move on to some of the other
books that I’m gonna recommend. The third book that I’m gonna recommend is
E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. This book is a classic children’s story, and
it’s got a kind of crazy story, when you think about it. It’s the story of a pig, who is gonna be killed
to be eaten, and a spider, who decides to save the pig’s life. So, it’s about animals, but it’s also featuring
a little girl, which is a really touching, endearing story. I’m gonna read a couple sentences to you from
the beginning of this book. “Chapter One: Before breakfast. ‘Where’s Papa going with that ax?’, said Fern
to her mother, as they were setting the table for breakfast. ‘Out to the hog house,’ replied Mrs. Arable. ‘Some pigs were born last night.’ ‘I don’t see why he needs an ax,’ continued
Fern, who was only eight. ‘Well,’ said her mother, ‘One of the pigs
is a runt. It’s very small and weak, and it will never
amount to anything, so your father has decided to do away with it.’ ‘Do away with it?’, shrieked Fern. ‘You mean, kill it just because it’s smaller
than the others?'” Well, so far, you can see because this book
is for maybe 10-year-olds, I think I read this book when I was fourth or fifth grade,
they often explain some of the vocabulary words. So, here in the book, the mother says, “One
of the pigs was a runt,” R-U-N-T. Maybe this is a new word for you, and I think
the author is explaining the word because it might be a new word for some of the original
native English speaker readers of this book as well. And she says, “It’s a runt. It’s small and weak,” so you’re learning vocabulary
through the people in this book. And then when the mother says, “Your father
decided to do away with it.” This word, “do away with,” maybe some people
who are reading this book understand what it means, but maybe they don’t. So here, Fern, Fern is the girl, Fern says,
“Do away with? You mean kill.” So here, you can understand that the expression
“do away with”, in this situation, means kill, so you’re learning vocabulary through the
characters. Excellent. An amazing story. Let’s go to the next book. The next book is Richard Atwater’s Mr. Popper’s
Penguins. Unfortunately, I don’t have a physical copy
of this book, but I’m still gonna explain it and read to you a couple sentences that
are digital, on my computer. So, this book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, is a
delightful, kind of silly story about a man, who has a lot of penguins. Maybe you’ve seen the movie, I think it’s
with Jim Carrey. Read the book, don’t watch the movie first. Read the book and learn something silly. The vocabulary and sentences are really simple
in this book, so I hope it will help to build your confidence and get you interested in
reading books in English. I’m gonna read to you the first couple sentences. “Chapter One: Stillwater. It was an afternoon in late September, in
the pleasant little city of Stillwater. Mr. Popper, the house painter, was going home
from work. He was carrying his buckets, his ladders,
and his boards so that he had a rather hard time moving along. He was spattered here and there with paint
and calcimine, and there were bits of wallpaper clinging to his hair and whiskers, for he
was a rather untidy man.” Here, as before, we have a couple words that
might be new to you, but in general, you can imagine Mr. Popper. He’s carrying ladders and buckets, and he
has wallpaper stuck to him. He has paint everywhere. He is an untidy man. So, you could learn this word, untidy, by
the descriptions, and it continues going where he meets a bunch of penguins and lots of crazy
things happen. It’s an excellent book with pretty simple
sentences and simple vocabulary. A good place to start. Let’s talk about the next book. The next book is Holes, by Louis Sachar, I
think that’s how you say it. Well, this book is about a boy who has to
go to a detention center and dig holes. It’s a pretty well-known story as well, and
that’s one of the reasons why it’ll be easy to follow, if you already know the story,
but also the thing that I like about this book is that the chapters are really short. So here, we have Chapter One, and already,
it’s Chapter Two, so you’re not waiting for other things to happen. It goes really fast. Let me read you the first couple sentences. “There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. There was once a very large lake here, the
largest lake in Texas. That was over a hundred years ago. Now, it’s just a dry, flat wasteland. There used to be a town of Green Lake as well. The town shriveled and dried up, along with
the lake, and the people who lived there.” So, in this short excerpt, there were probably
a couple new words, such as wasteland, shriveled, but hopefully from the context, you can get
an idea. Wasteland, dry, flat waste land. You can get the image that it’s a dried lake
with nothing. The soil isn’t good, there’s no trees, it’s
not beautiful. It’s waste. Kind of like garbage. So, hopefully this book, Holes, would be a
good introduction to your English reading journey. Let’s go to the next one. The next book is called My Side of the Mountain
by Jean Craighead George. This book also, I don’t have a physical copy
of, but it’s on the computer. So, I want to tell you a little bit about
it. This book is one of my favorite books for
young people, and it’s about a little boy, who decides to go live in the woods, and he
has to find food, he has to find shelter, and I think this book has inspired a lot of
people to explore nature and just do something adventurous. I know, for me when I was younger, it inspired
me. When I taught English to Americans in the
U.S., we read this book in seventh grade, so they were 13 years old, and they loved
this book because it was really inspirational about going and trying new things. So, let me read you a couple sentences, and
hopefully you’ll get an idea for the language. “Chapter One: In which I hole up in a snow
storm. I’m on my mountain, in a tree home, that people
have passed without ever knowing that I am here. The house is a hemlock tree, six feet in diameter,
and must be as old as the mountain itself. I came upon it last summer and dug and burned
it out until I made a snug cave in the tree, that I now call home.” Here, he’s describing his tree home, so you
get this image of someone who’s in the middle of the woods, alone, but you get a feeling
of satisfaction, of pride. “I made this cave, this home, in a tree.” I really recommend this book if you like nature
and if you like adventure, check this one out. Let’s go to the next book. The next book is called Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen. This is a book that, I think, is required
reading in the U.S. for nine, 10, 11-year-olds, because it’s also full of adventure, like
the previous book. It’s about a little boy, who is in a plane
crash, and he has to survive in the Canadian wilderness with only a hatchet. A hatchet is this thing here. It’s kind of like an ax, a small ax, and he
has to survive. So, let me read you a couple sentences, and
you can get a feeling for the language. “Brian Robeson stared out the window of the
small plane at the endless green northern wilderness below. It was a small plane, a Cessna 406, a bush
plane, and the engine was so loud, so roaring and consuming and loud, that it ruined any
chance for conversation. Not that he had much to say. He was 13 and the only passenger on the plane
was a pilot named, what was it, Jim or Jake or something, who was in his mid forties and
who had been silent, as he worked to prepare for takeoff.” Here, we have a picture of a boy, looking
over the beautiful Canadian wilderness, in a plane, alone, with someone who he doesn’t
really know. What could happen? I recommend it. Let’s go to the last book. The last book is Scott O’Dell’s book, Island
of the Blue Dolphins. This book is the most challenging out of all
of these recommendations, but it’s still a book that’s usually read by 12 or 13-year-olds
in the U.S., and this book is based off of a true story. It’s absolutely incredible because, in the
true story, there was a woman, who was living on an island off the coast of California for
20 years by herself. No one else was on the island, and after 20
years, someone found her and she was happy, she was healthy, and it’s the story about
what was her life like. We don’t know because, actually when they
found her in real-life, no one could understand her language. They didn’t even know what her language was. So, no one will ever really know what this
woman did while she was living on the island by herself for 20 years, but Scott O’Dell
decided that this is a beautiful story and he wanted to create it. He wanted to imagine what this woman’s life
was like by herself. So, I’m gonna read you a couple sentences,
so that you can get an idea for the language. “I remember the day the Aleut ship came to
our island. At first, it seemed like a small shell afloat
on the sea. Then, it grew larger, and was a gull with
folded wings. At last in the rising sun, it became what
it really was, a red ship with two red sails. My brother and I had gone to the head of a
canyon that winds down to a little harbor, which is called Coral Cove. We had gone to gather roots that grow there
in the spring.” Here, she’s explaining some of her story before
some becomes alone on the island. Well, I recommend it if you’re interested
in imagining what could have happened in history, because we have no idea, but it’s a great
book, quite interesting, and it’s simple enough. It’s a little challenging, but it’s simple
enough to start your English reading journey. I hope that at least one of these books sounds
interesting to you so that you can get started reading in English. I have a video where I talk about some reading
techniques, to help you really learn as you’re reading, and also enjoy it. I made a video a while ago about some more
challenging books, so if these books seem too simple for you, make sure to check out
that video, and let me know in the comments. What are some other recommendations you have
for some kind of simple book, in English, that’s a good book to get started with? Thanks so much for learning with me, and I’ll
see you the next time. Bye. The next step is to download my free e-book,
Five Steps to Becoming a Confident English Speaker. I want to help you master English and speak
fluently. Feel free to subscribe, so that you don’t
miss new English lessons. Thanks so much for learning with me. Bye.


  1. What should we do miss ?
    Here we live( Pakistan ) that’s hard or even impossible to be found
    I really would like to read such kind of books but unfortunately we can’t find that

  2. Are there audios for her to learn to read and accent American.

    The Oxford booksworms >> series are distinctive and sequential but British

    I hope to find an American accent

  3. my english level is basic and i understante almost everything .good vídeo but i have a question wher do you from ? are you native of us ?

  4. I'm Brazilian , but I love your channel really is very good !💗 And I learning a lot things with you !💗 I study English does 2 years but I have very difficult in listen ! In very complicate for me ! You can do a video about this? , I go love ! 😍 Thanks 😘

  5. Could anyone explain me one thing? I can't understand when she says "there's some pictures", wouldn't be "there are some pictures" the correct ? Thank you☺️

  6. Hello Vanessa, i think you read in a way we understand perfectly and also you introduce us to new words and expressions, so ..
    I think It would be a good idea if you read complete books , so we could hear pronunciation, could you do it ?
    Have a nice day 🙂

  7. After this video i just bought one of this book, because i want to improve my english and the story of the book my side of the Mountain is interesting which actually led me to decide to buy it. Thank you i hope it will worth

  8. Great tips, Vanessa! I cryed reading Charlotte's Web! I talk about learning English with books on my channel too!

  9. I ventured to read the Dark Tower series by Stephen King as my first English book, and needless to say I failed really badly 😀

  10. Not just the fullness of books, but your such lively tone and expressions do reinvigorate the will to read! Love your recommendations!

  11. Heyy I’m French do you think i can understand these books despite my beginners level in english ?? (I used google translation to write this comment, proof that I am very bad at English) but I would like to try to read in English to improve my English !!

  12. Amazing, I love your voice, your accent. Please make a youtube channel, reading books, it would be great for us. Please please.

  13. A great tip is read diary of a wimpy kid, everyone knows that book, but nobody remember that book for training English

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