How to start reading in English

How to start reading in English

Do you want to read in English, but you don't know how to start? Here are some tips to help you.

You probably already know that reading can help your English in many ways: it can help improve your understanding, build your vocabulary and even make you better at grammar! 

But how do you start reading in English when you've never done it before? 

If the thought of a long English novel sounds frightening, or simply boring, read on! There are lots of other ways to get reading in English.

Find something that interests you

You need to be interested in the subject you're reading about or you'll soon get bored and give up. So, what are you into? Maybe sport … or films … or cooking? Find a magazine, a blog or a website related to your interests. 

If you're following an international sports competition, read about it in English, as well as in your own language. Read a review of a film you've just seen. Try following a recipe in English and you'll be even happier with the food that you make!

Don't forget to make a note of the new vocabulary that you learn. If you like the subject, you probably enjoy talking about it too. Use the vocabulary you've learned in your conversations!

Read short stories

Do you enjoy reading stories in your own language, with great characters and an exciting plot? Reading a long novel in English can be difficult if you're not used to it. Why not start with short stories? 

It's even better if the story is written at the right level of English for you. 'Graded readers' are especially written for language learners and they exist at different levels, often from beginner to advanced. Perhaps you can find some at your local library. 

On the LearnEnglish website, you'll find some excellent graded short stories in different genres. Do you fancy a tale about a vampire, some science fiction or a detective story? 

There are exercises to help with vocabulary and understanding, and you can even write a comment afterwards to share your ideas about the story.

Make reading a habit

When do you usually read? On the bus to work? In your lunch break? Before bedtime? Experts say that we can create habits more easily if we attach a new activity to something we already do as part of our daily routine. 

So when you have your morning coffee, instead of looking at  photos on social media, what about reading in English for five minutes instead? By doing this every day, it will become a habit – something you do without even thinking about it. 

And according to experts, tiny habits can be the most effective. So think small! Just one page of your book, a few paragraphs of an article or blog post. Habits can be addictive. Soon reading in English will be a part of your daily life.

Move on to longer reads

Once you've built up your English reading habit with articles and short stories, you may feel ready for the challenge of a longer book. 

One idea could be to choose a book that you've already read and enjoyed in your own language. Maybe you read it a while ago and you've forgotten exactly what happens. Read it again in English, and the story will be familiar and easy to follow. 

Another idea is to read the book of a film that you've already seen. Often there are lots more details in the book, but you will already know the context and the characters from the film.

So, hopefully you're now feeling ready and motivated to read in English. And in fact, if you've read to the end of this article, you've already started! So all you need to do now is keep up the good work. 

Find something that interests you, read regularly and soon you'll notice the benefits to your English, as well as learning new things and enjoying exciting stories. Happy reading!

Jo Blackmore


Average: 4.3 (32 votes)

Submitted by Kort on Tue, 03/01/2023 - 08:37


I want to know how to make a habit and I don't know what to read. Thanks

Hi Kort,

Thanks for your question. I think that to make a habit of reading, the advice above says it well - make it a regular activity. For a good reading habit, it's better to read for 15 minutes every day than to read for two hours today and then read nothing for a week, even though the total reading time is similar both ways. Like many people, you may be busy in your life, so find some days and times when you have some time for reading and reserve the time for reading. I enjoy reading a little bit before going to sleep, for example. I try to do it almost every day, and I read more at length (e.g. one hour) if I have free time in a morning or afternoon one day.

Also, choose something good to read. Ask yourself why you want to read. Do you want to read in order to expand your vocabulary? Then you should choose texts that include lots of words that you want to learn. Do you want to read simply to enjoy stories? Then you should choose stories that seem interesting to you, and which have vocabulary that you mostly already know (because many new words may prevent you from enjoying the reading). Do you want to read specific types of text such as academic articles or technical writing, perhaps for your job or studies? Then you should find some good examples of those texts to read in detail. Whatever you choose, to develop a habit it's a good idea to choose relatively short texts to read so that you do not get bored, and you feel some progress as you read more and more.

I hope these suggestions somehow help. Allow me to suggest some reading resources on this site:

Best of luck!


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by soussou-04 on Wed, 21/12/2022 - 23:49


I would liké Reading a story kids, that will bé more easy, i will Can to tell it to m'y children

Submitted by abuadeela on Wed, 07/12/2022 - 00:35


I would like reading about population sinces and stories

Submitted by MyoZawHein on Mon, 31/10/2022 - 06:46


Thanks a lot. It totally helps me.

Submitted by Shoshoalmadhoun on Thu, 27/10/2022 - 15:39


I would like reading about a film that I have already seen.