Our Favourite Books to Help Children Learn English!

The language benefits of reading, or reading out loud to your children in English are numerous and are one of the numerous ways you can help your kids learn English. Firstly, children will find the activity of reading a story together very personal and a great way to get some alone time with their parents and thus will be eager to partake in the activity! Secondly, reading a story develops vocabulary as new words are introduced within different stories. It can also develop children’s speaking skills if done correctly; adults should ask questions about the story to try and get children talking. Finally, children’s books are usually repetitive so it gives children a chance to hear new words various times and therefore they will be more likely to remember them. We’ve made a list of our favourite books to help children learn English according to age group and included a few follow up activities.

Under 5’s

‘That’s not my…’ Series by Fiona Watt

The ‘That’s not my…’ series is great for younger children learning English. Each book has a title such as ‘That’s not my Unicorn’ or ‘That’s not my Puppy’. The book introduces a number of different objects or animals and throughout the books the same phrase is repeated, ‘That’s not my _______, it’s ________ is too ________’. It’s great for learning new adjectives and probably the best thing about the books is that it is filled with different textures for children to touch and feel.

Books with added elements such as touchy feely parts or ‘lift the flap’ books are good for younger children as it gets them involved with the book even though they cannot read yet. On the same lines, books which have sound effects are also very interesting for younger children as they can actively participate during storytime.

Remember when reading stories to young children to always make the activity as interactive as possible. Ask lots of questions such as ‘What can you see?’ or ‘What colour is the…?’. If storytime is interactive then children are more likely to want to be involved and answer questions asked correctly.

After reading the books why not download a colouring sheet? Instead of leaving children to colour alone make it a conversational activity by asking different questions such as ‘What animal are you going to colour in…?’ or ‘Do you remember what happened in the story about this animal..?. Here you can find some free downloadable colouring sheets which children are sure to love: https://usborne.com/things-to-do/features/thats-not-my-activity-sheets/.

 ‘Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy’ by Lynley Dodd

Another of our favourite books to help children learn English is Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy. This book is the first of twenty within a series about a dog from a dairy farm. The book introduces ‘Hairy Maclary’ who goes for a walk. The book then goes on to describe all of the dog’s friends in this fun rhyming story. This book is especially great if your children love dogs as all different types of dogs are introduced and with beautiful illustrations.

When reading the book remember to ask lots of questions. You could ask which is the biggest or smallest dog, about the colours or patterns of their fur or which dog your child likes best to name a few ideas.

The official Hairy Maclary website is great and it provides lots of activities for young children. There are online games, downloadable craft activities and even ideas to help you throw your very own Hairy Maclary party! Here you can find the link: http://www.hairymaclary.com/

Books which are part of a series are great for children as if they love the first story they read there are many more to follow!


Over 5’s

‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak

This story begins with a young boy being sent to bed without supper after wearing a wolf costume and causing chaos downstairs. His room transforms into a jungle-like place and the little boy discovers the ‘wild things’. This is a very imaginative book which children with a vivid imagination, and who love monsters, will greatly enjoy!

There is also a feature length film from 2011 which could be watched in English as a follow up activity after reading the book. After this you could also do a craft activity and ask your little ones to draw their own ‘wild things’. You could also go one step further and bring them to life by creating sculptures using materials such as empty cereal boxes, cardboard toilet roll papers and paints.


‘Stick Man’ by Julia Donaldson

The last of our favourite books to help children learn English we’d like to introduce here is the story of a ‘stick’ man who is separated from his stick family after a dog picks him up during a game of fetch and carries him away. Stick man finds himself in many dangerous situations before eventually finding his way home to be reunited with his family just before Christmas time.

Children will be engaged as they will want to find out if Stickman will eventually get back to his family. After reading the book there are a number of follow up activities you could engage in. Try going on a stick hunt in your garden or park and turn a stick into a stickman! Just add some googly eyes or use a marker to draw them on. Be prepared for your children to carry their stickman around wherever they go! If your children love painting then try out this craft: http://www.emmaowl.com/painting-sticks-nature-craft/. Find sticks, paint them with colourful patterns and display them in your home!

There you have a list of our favourite books to help immerse children learning English. Have fun with storytime and your children will be wanting to practice English without even realising!

At Break Into English, we have many children taking online English lessons with us and we always encourage parents to get involved in the homework activities we assign between classes to keep them engaged and make it fun for the whole family!