British Fiction for Different Levels

Apr 17, 2024By Michael C Durrant
Michael C Durrant

Looking for some reading recommendations to help boost your English language learning? Then, you have come to the perfect place. In today's blog, I will cover some great British fiction that learners at different levels can enjoy while getting lost in the wonderful world of great stories. Let's dive in!

*Please be aware that the levels are a general guide of the level learners need to have to comfortably enjoy reading the books. Reading confidence and experience, knowledge of certain themes or genres, print editions, etc. can also influence the reading experience. 

For A2-B1+ learners: Developing learners

beautiful schoolgirl sitting in the library and reading a book, education

The Borrowers by Mary Norton : Follow the lives of the Clock family, tiny people who live secretly in the walls and floors of an English house and "borrow" items from the humans who live there. When their daughter, Arrietty, befriends a human boy named "the Boy," their lives become even more adventurous. Why it's good for learners: the language is accessible for A2 to B1 learners, and the story is  is filled with imagination, adventure, and themes of friendship and resilience.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl: After finding a golden ticket in a Wonka Bar, Charlie Bucket is invited on a tour of the "interesting" and mysterious Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Why it's good for learners: this popular children's book is great for learners at this level, especially younger learners, as its sentence structures are simple enough and will introduce some new vocabulary that won't be too challenging. 

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl: another Dahl recommendation! This time we join James as he escapes from his two cruel aunts and travels on a giant peach with a group of interesting animals. Why it's good for learners: simple vocabulary and sentence structure and great for learning about perseverance and friendship.

For B1-B2 learners: Expanding learners

a couple of books sitting on top of a pile of leaves

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (The Philosopher's Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban, The Goblet of Fire): I'm sure everyone knows the story of The Boy Who Lived, but if you've only watched the films, then reading the books is a must! Discover all the parts of the Harry Potter story that didn't appear in the film while building your vocabulary is this extraordinary story of magic, friendship and courage. Why it's good for learners: the first 3 or 4 books are a great challenge for learners who are progressing through the intermediate level as the books gradually increase in complexity as Harry faces the different challenges of growing up while discovering his destiny.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: Mary Lennox, a spoiled and grumpy girl, is sent to live with her uncle in a large, mysterious house in the English countryside. She discovers a hidden, neglected garden, and with the help of a friendly robin and a local boy named Dickon, transforms both the garden and herself. Why it's good for learners: with its clear language and relatable themes of friendship and growth, learners can build vocabulary about emotions and nature while learning about British culture in the early 20th century. 

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame: Another great British classic, this book tells the story of sensible Mole, adventurous Ratty, grumpy Badger, and extravagant Toad as they go on adventures in the English countryside. Why it's good for learners: a charming story about friendship and loyalty that uses descriptive language for intermediate learners to build up their vocabulary and discover the beauty of life in the British countryside. 

For B2-C1 learners: Advanced learners

brown wooden house with green plants and trees

The Christomanci Series by Diana Wynne Jones: In the Christomanci Series, young apprentices with the magical ability to create spells from words are trained by the wise enchanter Christomanci. They face fantastical creatures, unravel mysteries that threaten the magical world, and learn the importance of responsibility and controlling their powerful gift. Why it’s good for learners: rich vocabulary, engaging plot and characters and an accessible writing style that make these perfect for learners at B2. *Some books within this series might be fine for B1+ readers as well. 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: Another classic that perhaps is better known because of the films. Bilbo Baggins, a peaceful hobbit, leaves his beloved and cozy Bag End to join the wizard Gandalf and a band of dwarves as they journey to take back the dwarves’ mountain home and stolen treasure from the dreadful dragon Smaug. Why it’s good for learners: introduces learners to the rich fantasy world of Tolkein through descriptive vocabulary that will challenge and expand their vocabulary.

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman: In a world where people's souls take the form of animal companions called daemons, Lyra Belacqua, a curious young girl, uncovers a dark secret about a powerful organisation and embarks on a thrilling adventure with a rebellious boy and a powerful armoured bear to fight for freedom and truth. Why it’s good for learners: engaging plot, fantasy elements with philosophical discussions about good vs. evil and free will suitable for B2 learners and above.