Summer Reading List for International Students!

American Life, Resources

We’re already in summer and it’s a perfect season to immerse yourself in great books during your vacation! However, it’s sometimes hard to figure out which book to choose from so many options, especially for English learners. No worries, MLC instructors and staff chose books that are great for each level of English Proficiency!

MLC instructor Julie Dean shares the tips for international students to find their levels. “Look at a page of text and if you can recognize and understand most of the words on the page, this is a good level for you,” she said. “The idea is for our students to find something they enjoy reading that they can build fluency in reading without interruption.  After they read once, of course they can return to the word they were unsure about, and then look up the exact meaning.

See suggesting summer reading for each English level below.

For Beginner Level

Many of the MLC instructors and staff suggested books from children’s books for English beginners. They are timeless, and fun to read with beautiful illustrations and pictures!

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
“For beginners, anything by Dr. Seuss. These books are fun to read out loud because they rhyme, and they’re silly with funny pictures!” – MLC Instructor, Julie Dean

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
“A short story about a tree and a boy who loved each other throughout their lives together. This is one of the timeless children’s books!” – MLC Instructor, Catherin Murau

The Giving Tree

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
“What happens when a boy is sent to his room for being naughty? His imagination runs wild, but in the end he wants to come home again.” -MLC Instructor, Catherin Murau

Where the wild things are

The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
“This book is for all ages. It tells a story of four characters as they go through different seasons together. It gives a simple yet profound view of life, to living with courage and kindness.” -MLC Student Service Associate, Kyle Kue

The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse

For Intermediate and Advanced Intermediate Levels

MLC Instructor Julie said she would recommend going to the children’s section and finding a biography or a book that is about a subject of interest for Intermediate and Advanced Intermediate.

Who Was Alexander Hamilton? by Pam Pollack and Meg Belviso
“This is one of the examples for Intermediates and Advanced Intermediates. The book is about the U.S. historic figure, Alexander Hamilton.” -MLC Instructor, Julie

Who Was Alexander Hamilton?

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
“The House on Mango Street is the story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl, and her life growing up in Chicago. The book aims to help students understand and empathize with a community which is very different from their own.” -MLC Instructor, Alexandra Covell

The house on mango street

Matilda by Roald Dahl
“This book tells the story of a brilliant young girl who uses her new-found powers to stand up to bullies and escape from her horrible parents. The colorful characters and exciting plot makes this book fun for all ages!” -MLC Academic Director, Claire Molling


Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
“These poems are short and inventive. The language is accessible and fun! I read this book to my children regularly, and enjoy it each and every time I read it.” -MLC Instructor, Josh Florida

The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
“it’s a series of time traveller books with lots of adventures in different times and countries. They are available at the Ann Arbor Public library!” -MLC Instructor, Julie Dean

Magic Tree House

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
“A duck family lives in Boston Garden. This old story, published in 1941, remains famous today, and there are statues in Boston Garden of the duck family.” -MLC Instructor, Catherin Murau

Make way for ducklings

For Advanced Level

Readers of advanced level would have more options to choose from. They could enjoy books for beginners and intermediate students listed above, but also would be able to enjoy the following. 

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
“This book is great at showing off the beauty and diversity of language, especially descriptive language. If you are looking for a clear story, you won’t find it here. What you will find is beautifully written vignettes that are just one or two pages long describing a city. The book and chapters are relatively short. If you were to read just one chapter (one or two pages a day) and reflected on it, you would find the reading to be enjoyable and rewarding. For those that I’ve taught narrative nonfiction or Test Prep to, this book highlights the sort of descriptive language you should be trying to develop in your own writing.” -MLC Instructor, Josh Florida

Invisible cities

What Work Is  by Philip Levine
“This is one of my favorite poets and one of his best books; it is definitely his best known work. I have chosen him for several reasons including the fact that he is a Michigan native. A large amount of his writing revolves around him growing up in Detroit during the period of time in the 20th century when there was still a vibrant working class community working in the automotive industry. His writing touches upon everyday life but in a way which transcends the everyday.” -MLC Instructor, Josh Florida

What work is

Dear Life by Alice Munro
“This is a book of short stories that I highly recommend. While Alice Munro is Canadian, her stories are also reflective of an American ‘slice of life.’ Her writing is neither too flowery nor complex. This does not mean her writing isn’t good or sophisticated. In fact, it is safe to say that her writing is amazing and vibrant in its simplicity. Most of the stories in this collection revolve around some central moment, a hinge moment, in which the main character’s fate is forever altered due to choices he or she made.” -MLC Instructor, Josh Florida

Dear life

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck 
“This is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of an ordinary Chinese farming family during the reign of the last emperor of China. It was written by an American author who spent much of her childhood living in rural China. This book is inspired by her observations and experiences.” -MLC Director of Operations, Tessa Raymond

The good earth

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
“River animals become friends and go on many adventures together. Mr Toad is especially famous and silly.” -MLC Instructor, Catherin Murau

Wind in the willows

Unmuted by Heather Hansen
“In Unmuted, Heather Hansen gives some practical tips on how to overcome these obstacles and make yourself heard. You will find information about professional communication in this book based on concepts from business psychology, cultural studies, linguistics, anthropology, and linguistics. It offers practical strategies that will boost your confidence and clarity in every facet of your career, from writing effective emails to delivering powerful presentations.” -MLC Instructor, Alexandra Covell


Atomic habits by James Clear
“In The Atomic Habits, you will learn how to break unwanted habits, adopt good ones, and change your life in four steps that contain small, incremental changes over time that lead to a positive, lasting change for the better. This book includes worksheets and handouts for discussion purposes.” -MLC Instructor, Alexandra Covell

Atomic habits

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
For Advanced, I recommend getting the book of a movie that students already know the story. This makes reading easier, and hopefully students won’t be tempted to look up every word they are not familiar with.” -MLC Instructor, Julie Dean

Jurassic park


Is there any book that interests you? We hope these lists will help you find a great book to enjoy during your summer vacation!
Thank you, MLC instructors and staff, for sharing your reading recommendations and ideas!