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  • Hi, I'm Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com.

  • Today, we're gonna talk about books.

  • Let's get started.

  • Today, I'm gonna quickly talk about eight books that are great if you've never read

  • a book in English before.

  • All of these books use simple language, simple vocabulary, but the stories are engaging and

  • interesting, and they move quickly, so you don't have to read pages and pages of descriptions

  • of the scenery or of some deep character.

  • Well, in these books, they are generally for upper elementary school kids, so nine-year-old,

  • 10-year-old, 11, 12, 13-year-old.

  • This age group usually reads interesting books, but books that use relatively simple language.

  • So I recommend, if you've never read a book before in English, use one of these books.

  • Get one of these books off of Amazon or other places that you can get books in English and

  • try it.

  • Take some time.

  • Take a couple weeks to try to read one of these.

  • Because there's eight books, there's a lot of material, so I'm gonna try to go quickly

  • to help you really get an idea for each of these and choose the right book for you.

  • Let's start with the first one.

  • The first book is Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach.

  • This book is about a little boy who tries to escape from his terrible aunts, who he's

  • living with, and he goes inside an amazing giant peach, and has a lot of adventures as

  • he's traveling from London to the U.S. I think that this book is pretty well-known.

  • The story is well-known.

  • Maybe you've seen the movie, but take some time to read the book.

  • It's not so long.

  • There's some pictures, and I'm gonna read you the first couple sentences so that you

  • can have an idea about the language that's used.

  • Are you ready?

  • "Until he was four years old, James Henry Trotter had had a happy life.

  • He lived peacefully with his mother and father in a beautiful house, beside the sea.

  • There were always plenty of other children for him to play with, and there was a sandy

  • beach for him to run about on and the ocean to paddle in.

  • It was the perfect life for a small boy.

  • Then, one day, James' mother and father went to London to do some shopping and there, a

  • terrible thing happened."

  • I'm not gonna tell you what happened.

  • You'll have to read the book to find out.

  • This is our first book and the most simple.

  • We're gonna start with the most simple and then go up to a little more challenging, but

  • all of these really, you could read if you've never read a book in English before.

  • Let's go to the second one.

  • The second book is a little more serious.

  • It is Lois Lowry's Number the Stars.

  • This book is about a little girl in Denmark, who decides to hide and try to save her Jewish

  • friend during World War II.

  • So this book, as you can imagine, is not as funny as the first book, but it also has an

  • interesting storyline.

  • I'm gonna read you the first couple sentences, so that you can get an idea for the language.

  • "Why are you running?

  • 'I'll race you to the corner, Ellen,' Annemarie adjusted her thick leather pack on her back,

  • so that her school books balanced evenly.

  • 'Ready?'

  • She looked at her best friend.

  • Ellen made a face.

  • 'No,' she said, laughing.

  • 'You know I can't beat you.

  • My legs aren't as long.

  • Can't we just walk, like civilized people?'

  • She was a stocky 10-year-old, unlike lanky Annemarie."

  • So, as you can tell from the first few sentences of this book, there are probably a few words

  • that might be new to you, such as stocky, lanky.

  • Well, these words are important for the story, but they're not essential.

  • So, as you're reading, you can understand the general idea, and then if you want to

  • underline those new words and look them up immediately or look them up later, you can

  • get a better idea for these specific words, but they're not gonna stop you from understanding

  • the general story.

  • I think, for me, when I read my first book in French, when I finished the book, I felt

  • so accomplished.

  • I felt like I had done something amazing, even though the book wasn't that long, it

  • was maybe something like this, I felt amazing because I finished the book and I generally

  • understood the story.

  • So, if you can generally understand the story and gain that confidence that, "Yes, I can

  • do it.

  • I can read a book in English," then you can go back and you can learn the specific words,

  • or you could move on to some of the other books that I'm gonna recommend.

  • The third book that I'm gonna recommend is E.B.

  • White's Charlotte's Web.

  • This book is a classic children's story, and it's got a kind of crazy story, when you think

  • about it.

  • It's the story of a pig, who is gonna be killed to be eaten, and a spider, who decides to

  • save the pig's life.

  • So, it's about animals, but it's also featuring a little girl, which is a really touching,

  • endearing story.

  • I'm gonna read a couple sentences to you from the beginning of this book.

  • "Chapter One: Before breakfast.

  • 'Where's Papa going with that ax?', said Fern to her mother, as they were setting the table

  • for breakfast.

  • 'Out to the hog house,' replied Mrs. Arable.

  • 'Some pigs were born last night.'

  • 'I don't see why he needs an ax,' continued Fern, who was only eight.

  • 'Well,' said her mother, 'One of the pigs is a runt.

  • It's very small and weak, and it will never amount to anything, so your father has decided

  • to do away with it.'

  • 'Do away with it?', shrieked Fern.

  • 'You mean, kill it just because it's smaller than the others?'"

  • Well, so far, you can see because this book is for maybe 10-year-olds, I think I read

  • this book when I was fourth or fifth grade, they often explain some of the vocabulary

  • words.

  • So, here in the book, the mother says, "One of the pigs was a runt," R-U-N-T.

  • Maybe this is a new word for you, and I think the author is explaining the word because

  • it might be a new word for some of the original native English speaker readers of this book

  • as well.

  • And she says, "It's a runt.

  • It's small and weak," so you're learning vocabulary through the people in this book.

  • And then when the mother says, "Your father decided to do away with it."

  • This word, "do away with," maybe some people who are reading this book understand what

  • it means, but maybe they don't.

  • So here, Fern, Fern is the girl, Fern says, "Do away with?

  • You mean kill."

  • So here, you can understand that the expression "do away with", in this situation, means kill,

  • so you're learning vocabulary through the characters.

  • Excellent.

  • An amazing story.

  • Let's go to the next book.

  • The next book is Richard Atwater's Mr. Popper's Penguins.

  • Unfortunately, I don't have a physical copy of this book, but I'm still gonna explain

  • it and read to you a couple sentences that are digital, on my computer.

  • So, this book, Mr. Popper's Penguins, is a delightful, kind of silly story about a man,

  • who has a lot of penguins.

  • Maybe you've seen the movie, I think it's with Jim Carrey.

  • Read the book, don't watch the movie first.

  • Read the book and learn something silly.

  • The vocabulary and sentences are really simple in this book, so I hope it will help to build

  • your confidence and get you interested in reading books in English.

  • I'm gonna read to you the first couple sentences.

  • "Chapter One: Stillwater.

  • It was an afternoon in late September, in the pleasant little city of Stillwater.

  • Mr. Popper, the house painter, was going home from work.

  • He was carrying his buckets, his ladders, and his boards so that he had a rather hard

  • time moving along.

  • He was spattered here and there with paint and calcimine, and there were bits of wallpaper

  • clinging to his hair and whiskers, for he was a rather untidy man."

  • Here, as before, we have a couple words that might be new to you, but in general, you can

  • imagine Mr. Popper.

  • He's carrying ladders and buckets, and he has wallpaper stuck to him.

  • He has paint everywhere.

  • He is an untidy man.

  • So, you could learn this word, untidy, by the descriptions, and it continues going where

  • he meets a bunch of penguins and lots of crazy things happen.

  • It's an excellent book with pretty simple sentences and simple vocabulary.

  • A good place to start.

  • Let's talk about the next book.

  • The next book is Holes, by Louis Sachar, I think that's how you say it.

  • Well, this book is about a boy who has to go to a detention center and dig holes.

  • It's a pretty well-known story as well, and that's one of the reasons why it'll be easy

  • to follow, if you already know the story, but also the thing that I like about this

  • book is that the chapters are really short.

  • So here, we have Chapter One, and already, it's Chapter Two, so you're not waiting for

  • other things to happen.

  • It goes really fast.

  • Let me read you the first couple sentences.

  • "There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.

  • There was once a very large lake here, the largest lake in Texas.

  • That was over a hundred years ago.

  • Now, it's just a dry, flat wasteland.

  • There used to be a town of Green Lake as well.

  • The town shriveled and dried up, along with the lake, and the people who lived there."

  • So, in this short excerpt, there were probably a couple new words, such as wasteland, shriveled,

  • but hopefully from the context, you can get an idea.

  • Wasteland, dry, flat waste land.

  • You can get the image that it's a dried lake with nothing.

  • The soil isn't good, there's no trees, it's not beautiful.

  • It's waste.

  • Kind of like garbage.

  • So, hopefully this book, Holes, would be a good introduction to your English reading

  • journey.