English Book Recommendations: Matilda by Roald Dahl (Early-Intermediate)

After they finish their first English class, many of my beginner and early-intermediate students ask me to recommend a book that they can read.

Usually, they ask for a good children’s book. This can be difficult to find alone. Where do you begin? Which books are actually good? Which books can adults enjoy, too? Are there any “classics” that most native English speakers have read?

This post is the first in a series designed to answer those questions. Keep reading for my first English book recommendation, why you should read it, and what you’ll learn.

I recommend reading…

Matilda by Roald Dahl


Humour, Children’s classic

Reading Level

Early-intermediate English learners (Strong A2, B1) and above.


Matilda is a very intelligent little girl with some very special talents. However, her family sees nothing special about her, and they neglect and mistreat her. When she is old enough, they send her to a school with a tyrannical headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, who hates children and enjoys terrorizing them. Matilda uses her intelligence to play pranks on her horrible parents and challenge the mean Miss Trunchbull. She also becomes friends with her favourite teacher, Miss Honey.

Why should you read it?

It’s a very, very funny and heartwarming book, and a favourite of both children and adults. It’s a classic, and is so popular that has been made into a film, a musical, and a radio programme.

What will you learn?

This book contains a lot of relative clauses which can be a little difficult for beginners to understand, especially because the relative pronoun often disappears. For example:

“The book that I read was good.” –> “The book I read was good.”

If you are familiar with relative clauses but are not 100% comfortable with them, this is a great book to read. You’ll also get many good examples of the present perfect:

“Have you done your homework?”

And it will definitely stretch your vocabulary.

More about the author

Roald Dahl is a well-known and well-loved British writer who wrote many classic children’s books. He is also known for his dark short stories, written for adults. He was number 16 on The Times’ 2008 list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.

Other books to read by Roald Dahl are: The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, The Twits, George’s Marvellous Medicine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach

So what are you waiting for? Pop out to the library and see if you can get a copy of Matilda. It’s one of my favourite books of all time, so I hope that you enjoy it too.

If you’re looking for an English book to help you with pronunciation, I have a post on that here. Happy reading!


Image by Meilock // Source – used under the Creative Commons 2.0 license, no changes made.

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