1. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
This is part of the national curriculum in many schools around the world, so it's quite possible this book will also come up in conversation. You can almost guarantee that the majority of native English speakers have read this book at least once.
A baby pig called Wilbur is almost killed because of his status – he is the smallest pig that was born and he is considered to be useless and of no value. Charlotte, the spider, knows that the farmers are planning to kill Wilbur. She promises to make a plan to save his life. The farmers are surprised the next day when they see the words "some pig" written in the web Charlotte has made. Wilbur is sad when Charlotte disappears. But in the end, her baby spiders turn out to be great company for the pig. They continue to protect each other and the story ends well.
2. Mieko and the Fifth Treasure by Eleanor Coerr
This book is not really so famous, but it is on the recommended book list. What's great about "Mieko and the Fifth Treasure" is that it's short. At only 77 pages long, this will be an easy read. Again this book is aimed at young native English speakers, so if you're learning English, the level won't be so difficult. This book will keep you interested as you'll learn many interesting things about Japan and its culture.
This is an emotional story about Mieko. Mieko is a talented artist and calligrapher. Her hand is badly hurt during the bombings of the war. The scared little girl is sent to live with her grandparents in the countryside where it is safer. Mieko is worried and afraid that she's lost her 5th treasure – the "beauty in her heart." This treasure is the key to her happiness and her beautiful art. Mieko starts a new school. Her new classmates are mean. They constantly laugh at her and tease her which just makes her angrier. Her grandparents eventually manage to lift her darkness through their patience and wisdom.
3. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
This short novel is perfect for English learners. It has modern themes and typical teenage issues that people around the world have experienced. There are very few cultural notes in this, which means you don't need much background information. The sentences are short and easy to understand. The vocabulary is also very easy. You should be able to read this book without difficulty.
Ponyboy Curtis is one of the main characters in the novel. He is a part of a gang of teenagers called the Greasers. They meet up with the rival gang and the fight begins. One of the enemies is killed. Ponyboy is really scared. They hide in a church and try to hide their appearance by dyeing their hair. A number of different fights break out between the two gangs. Eventually Ponyboy wakes up in the hospital. A trial is set in the courtroom and the judge has to decide Ponyboy's fate. Is he guilty or not guilty?
4. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
The great thing about "The House On Mango Street" is that it's an interesting read. It's written from the point of view of the writer. You can really feel what the protagonist (the main character) feels. The sentences are really short so it's also easy to understand. There are a few challenging words and a little bit of descriptive language, but you can usually understand them with the context. Another great thing about this book is that it gives you a deep understanding of a different culture.
This book follows the life of Esperanza, a Mexican girl. Esperanza moves into a new home on Mango Street. Their new house is old and small. In the new home, Esperanza feels like she has no time to be alone. She promises herself that one day she will leave and have her own home. Throughout the novel the young girl grows up a lot. The story follows her life as she makes friends, her body changes and she begins to have feelings for a boy. There is a lot of focus on other women in the community and Esperanza hopes never to be like them. Through watching the older women and how they are stuck, she knows that she wants to leave.
5. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
This story takes place in the present, which means the writer writes using simple grammar. All sentences are short and the vocabulary is relatively easy. The interesting grammar and short paragraphs make this a quick and easy book for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners. This is an award-winning book and on the New York Times best books list, so it's worth a read.
The main character is Clay Jensen, a quiet high school student. He comes home from school to find a parcel at his front door. He does not know who sent it. He opens it and discovers 7 cassette tapes. These tapes are from Hannah Baker, his previous classmate. She had emotional problems and has committed suicide (killed herself). The tapes came with instructions. The paper stated that they should pass the tapes from one student to another student. There are 12 people in total. In the paper, she explains to these people that they helped her die – she gives them 13 reasons. We hear about her pain. She talks about her first kiss, people who lied to her and stole from her. Everything started with gossip. The gossip then grew and became out of control.
6. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Almost everyone knows the story of "Peter Pan" which is why this is an easy read. Being familiar with a story already helps the reader to understand the text better. This book is aimed at children, but it continues to be enjoyed by adults around the world too.
Peter invites Wendy to return to Neverland with him. Wendy asks for her brothers Michael and John to join them. They have a magical flight as they travel to Neverland and have many adventures along the way. After all their adventures and fun, Wendy decides that her place is at home with their mother. But Peter doesn't want her to go. Instead he tries to trick her. He tells her that their mother doesn't want them anymore. However, he understands how sad their mother must be. In the end, he decides to let them go home.
7. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway
This is a famous classic. Almost all native English speakers will have read this book at some point in school. So, if you ever find yourself in a conversation about literature and books, this is a good one to talk about. It has a little bit of difficult vocabulary, however, it is short and you won't have too much trouble being able to finish it.
This is a story of a long fight between an old, experienced fisherman and the best fish he ever caught. Santiago has returned to the village without any fish for 84 days. On the eighty-fifth day, his luck changes and so does his life. At 12 pm, a huge fish takes the bait. The man tries to pull the fish up, but the fish is too big and strong. Instead, the fish begins to pull the boat. The old man continues to fight and hold on to the line. The fish pulls the boat around the sea for two days.
On the third day, the fish gets tired. Santiago is able to pull the fish closer and kill it. It's the biggest fish he has seen in his life. He begins to sail back to the village, but the blood of the fish attracts sharks. The boat is attacked by a Mako shark, but Santiago is able to kill it. He kills most of the sharks, but there is a problem. They have eaten the meat of the fish and now only the skeleton is left. He returns back to his home and falls asleep.
8. The Giver by Lois Lowry
"The Giver" begins in a very interesting way and catches the attention of readers from the beginning. It has easy-to-understand grammar. Most of the grammar is just past simple and past perfect. All of the sentences are short. This is a longer book. It's really easy though, so you'll finish it quickly.
Jonas is a young boy. He lives a very safe life with a lot of orders and rules. There are many rules and everyone follows them. They don't often make a decision by themselves. But Jonas soon learns some truths about the people in the community. He comes to understand that this kind of life is unfair. He wants to allow people to make their own choices. Jonas comes up with an interesting plan to change the community. He decides he needs to move the community to another place. In his plan, they are able to live a good and fair life.
9. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
This is a realistic novel. It's based on history. Unlike other historical literature, it's easy to understand. If you already know a lot of information about World War II, this might be an interesting book for you. It's not recommended if you don't know too much about the World Wars. In this case, you will be focusing on trying to understand the facts too much so you will not enjoy the book as much.
This is a story of hope and courage. The year is 1943 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The area has been taken over by Hitler's army. There are soldiers everywhere. The life of 10-year-old Annemarie has changed a lot. There is little food and everyone is very scared. There is talk about moving all of the Jewish people to another place. This is difficult for Annemarie because her best friend, Ellen, is Jewish.
This is a different book about the war. It shows it was not only the Jewish people who suffered during the war. Annemarie's family lost their eldest daughter, Lise, a few weeks before her wedding. Annemarie will later do what her sister, Lise, did. She will join the resistance party to fight against the Nazis. She ends up being a heroine for a few reasons (which I will not tell you because I don't want to ruin the story).
10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'engle
This book has a mix of shorter and longer sentences. The short sentences allow the readers to relax a little bit more. They also create the scene well and let you know what is happening through simple words. There is a lot of vocabulary to learn. It is a good book if you've already got experience reading novels in English. Make sure you have your vocabulary notebook with you, just in case there are any cool words that you'd like to learn. This book has MANY!
Meg is 14-years-old. Everyone sees her as a troublemaker. They think she's a bad student. Everyone in her family seems to be perfect. Her mom is a very beautiful scientist. Her twin brothers are very athletic. And her little 5-year-old brother, Charles Wallace Murry, is a child genius and can often read the mind of Meg.
Meg and her brother meet a friend. Calvin O'Keefe is a high school junior student. Meg and Calvin begin to like each other. Charles suddenly announces that they should focus on finding their father who is lost somewhere in the universe. Eventually they find their dad, but not without drama. Along the way, Meg learns to love. She uses this new love to help them escape.