8 festive books to help you learn English
This holiday season, what better way to get into the Christmas spirit (and improve your English vocabulary skills) than by reading some festive novels? It’s time to curl up on the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate and a cozy blanket and get lost in a good story.
From gripping murder mysteries, captivating fantasies, and heart-warming tales of love — here are 8 festive books to help you learn English.
1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Meet the Grinch, a grumpy green creature with a heart two sizes too small and a deceitful plan to steal Christmas from the joyful Whos. When the Grinch finds himself warming up to Cindy Lou, a child who loves Christmas, he begins questioning his deep-rooted disgust of Christmas. Can she change his mean ways?
Get transported to Whoville by this witty writing style and delightful illustrations in this famous children’s book. This is a great one to practice your rhyming skills as well. You can also watch the movie starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch!
2. Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens
There’s a darkness brewing in snowy Cambridge — despite the warm, cozy fires. Follow detectives Daisy and Hazel as they spend the holidays at Maudlin College, hoping to enjoy a relaxing, merry time. But the young detectives are thrust into a thrilling investigation when a peculiar death occurs, two days before Christmas. With their sharp wits and detective skills, Daisy and Hazel seek to untangle secrets and interrogate unlikely suspects to unmask the dark truth behind the murder amidst the mistletoe.
This book is a great first step before reading more advanced murder mysteries. If you find you love this thrilling genre, you can work your way up to authors such as Agatha Christie and Stephen King.
3. Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
Indulge in a festive romcom this winter! ‘Let it Snow’ follows three interconnected holiday stories by three best-selling authors. Read as the romantic tales unfold in the small town of Gracetown during a hazardous blizzard and find yourself rooting for love. Follow Jubilee as she attempts to spend Christmas away from her boyfriend, Noah, Angie as she struggles to tell her friend how she truly feels about him, and Addie as she is forced to confront her selfish behavior. All three stories magically intertwine and will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Blossoming romance, friendship, self-discovery, and joyful comedic elements make this the perfect book to read in front of the fire during the next snowstorm.
4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Travel to Narnia in this timeless classic and fall in love with the endearing characters. When four siblings — Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter — must evacuate their home in London to escape the Blitz, they find themselves in an old estate in the English countryside. When exploring their new home, they stumble upon an old wardrobe. The siblings climb through the wardrobe and discover a magical realm frozen in eternal winter by the White Witch's wicked spell. Together, through admirable bravery, courage, and sacrifice, they seek to break the curse and save the mysterious creatures of Narnia.
This seven-book series will only leave you wanting more. And with three movies to watch if you get stuck, your winter season will be full of enchanting tales.
5. Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove
Detective Sherlock Holmes and his trusty partner John Watson must investigate a series of troubling murders with a Yuletide twist. Eve Allerthorpe is the heir to a Yorkshire dynasty. She anxiously seeks out the help of the two detectives when she believes she is being haunted by a demonic spirit — a mythical Christmas demon her mother used to tell her about as a child. While the famous duo seeks to uncover the truth behind the demon haunting Eve, they face challenging puzzles and cryptic messages. Can they uncover the truth before it’s too late?
Lovegrove's brilliant storytelling captures the essence of the original author of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, with this festive mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
6. The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig
Amelia Wishart, a chimney sweep in Victorian England, wholeheartedly believes in miracles and is the reason Santa had enough magic to power his first-ever sleigh ride to deliver presents. But, Amelia is running out of hope. Her mother is gravely ill and when the fate of Christmas takes a dark turn, Amelia embarks on a remarkable journey to the North Pole to restore the Christmas spirit. Through love, hope, and determination, can Amelia help save the holidays for all?
Matt Haig writes beautifully about the importance of hope and belief in this magical story, whilst covering deeper messages of grief and love. And the beautiful illustrations alongside the text make this a great story to read as a beginner.
7. Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
Simeon Lee tries to get his fractured, feuding family to spend Christmas together at his estate but old grudges resurface and tensions rise. When Lee is found murdered in a locked room, the festive cheer abruptly disappears. A troubling and shocking case such as this calls only for renowned Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. He may be the only one who can get to the bottom of this tragedy. Read as Poirot untangles a dark web of chilling lies and family secrets, and reveals an unexpected twist that will leave you craving more.
This classic “whodunnit” was published in 1938 by the legendary Agatha Christie, the queen of murder mystery. It's a great one for more advanced readers who love a brilliant detective novel with a festive spin.
8. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
This timeless tale follows the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a cold-hearted and miserable businessman. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is confronted by the ghost of his former business partner for being selfish, greedy, and cruel and warns that he must change. That night, Scrooge is visited by three more spirits — the Ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. The spirits guide him through his own life, showing him the tragic consequences of his behavior and the impact it has on others. As the ghosts reveal to him the true meaning of Christmas, can Ebenezer Scrooge change his woeful ways?
This book, first published in 1843, is suited to more advanced readers. It's a wonderful way to delve into Dickens’ charming storytelling, with plenty of Victorian English to learn along the way.
We hope these 8 novels will get you in the Christmas spirit whilst helping to improve your English skills. Happy reading!