Recommended Reading for ESL Adults

Many of our adult ESL students here at Hancock International College ask for book recommendations for the summer break or after school reading. Of course as with anyone especially international students’ preferences will vary a lot. Maybe you would be more interested in classic novels or stories that most Americans read in high school that will also teach you about American culture. Or maybe short stories that can be read over the course of a couple hours or the weekend. Perhaps someone with a straight forward writing style like Ernest Hemingway. He is always a go to recommendation because his writing style is so simple and direct but at the same time very deep.

Sarah Li Cain from gives a lot of great recommendations. If you are ready to jump straight into some short stories, she recommends:

“The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry

“The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs

“The Tell-tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe

“Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger” by Saki

“The Door in the Wall” by Marguerite de Angeli

“A Haunted House” by Virginia Woolf

If you would like to search by author, Cain recommends Ernest Heming way (of course), Stephen King “Known for his suspense and horror stories,” John Steinbeck “known for his journalistic writing style,” Edgar Allan Poe with his infamous poetry, Jack London who uses great “adjectives and descriptive writing,” and Roald Dahl “Most known for his children’s stories.”

However, if you would like to really explore all your options for literature in the English language Sarah Li Cain gives some great sources of free short stories. The nice thing about short stories is that you will not be daunted by a novel that is hundreds of pages long. The sources she lists are:

We hope these stories inspire you to learn. There is nothing quite like a good book!

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Idiom of the Day

book worm

Meaning: Someone who reads a lot or likes to read.

Example: She is such a book worm! She always has her nose in a new book.