Reading English Stories: Public Texts

Here is a list of some of the best public texts to help your students learn English and practice their reading. Publically accessible books are a free, fun way to practice reading a new language. They are at an intermediate English level. Though they are children’s books, they are in an older style of English so they are not suitable for complete beginner students. Enjoy!

First, check out the Children’s Bookshelf on Project Gutenberg for many texts that are now publically accessible and have no copyright issues. They are great for prompting discussion, too, especially the ‘nonsense’ children’s stories. Project Gutenberg is a great resource for learning English. Come back to this page anytime to read some classic English stories.

Top free children’s stories to learn English.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

CCQ : comprehension checking questions

  • Why did Peter go into the garden?
  • What did Peter’s mother tell him?
  • What animals did Peter meet?
  • What food did the farmer grow?

A Book of Nonsense, by Edward Lear

My First Picture Book, by Joseph Martin Kronheim

The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse, by Beatrix Potter


If you want the texts with images, make sure to download the EPUB version.

Use the Comprehension checking questions to ensure you understood the story.

Write down any words in the story that you don’t know and keep them in a list. Be sure to practice them in a few days. How?

  • Write each word 3 times in a notebook.
  • Create a stack of notecards of your new words and make flashcards with them. Carry them with you and test yourself whenever you have free moments. This way they will stay fresh in your mind.

For more accessible texts to practice your English, you can also read some Dr. Seuss books that are available in .pdf forms, such as The Lorax. The images are charming and you can use this list of questions to prompt further discussion and practice your new English words. Happy reading!

To keep practicing reading, suggest the following to students:

  1. Audiobooks. Tell your students to listen to audiobooks and read along with the captions. There are some great free youtube channels, like Learn English Through Stories, with books you can read and speak along to.
  2. Talk to people online. Also, tell your students to consider signing up for online video gaming, discord, or Reddit groups that interest them. This is a way they can practice writing and chatting in English. Also, tell them to sign up for Cambly for more structured practice for some speaking practice. It is the cheapest way to practice conversational English.
  3. Read Outloud. Finally, tell your students about The Project Gutenberg. The texts are free, and they can read them out loud to improve their grammar.

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Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL
Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL

Ingrid Maria Pimsner has been teaching for over a decade in various universities, nonprofits, and private academies. She has taught English as a Second Language for Lutheran Children & Family Service, Nationalities Service Center, Lernstudio Barbarossa Berlin-Tegel, and more. In addition to her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certification, she holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA from Maryland Institute College of Art.