By sarahjtiplady Last updated:
Want to take a break from fast-talking French films, musicand people?
Here’s a tip: children’s books.
You may be dying to dive headfirst into reading higher-level French books.
But for most beginners, basic French comprehension skills won’t get us through a copy of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables.”
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
Why Learn French with Children’s Books?
You might think that you’re too old or too smart for “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” (“La Chenille Qui Fait Des Trous”).
But that’s not true!
You’re never too much of a grown-up for these classics.
Children’s books give you a chance to build up anddevelop your French comprehension skillsfirst.
Not only that, they open you up to a world of culture that you may have missed out on as an adult French language learner.
It’s important that you expand your horizons when you want to learn French. After all, the language is much more than just the words, as it’s also the world in which the words manifest. Such cultural awareness can be achieved through alternative learning resources like FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
To learn more about the program, make sure you sign up for a free FluentU trial.
Back to children’s books. These books are often quick, easy, full of pictures, fun and absolutely charming. Do you know anything about how French children play games of hide and seek? Do you know what sound a French cat makes?
Join us in indulging in some childish French literature. Before you know it, you’ll be clapping, counting, singing andmiaou-ing like French children do!
Learn French with Books: 10 Fun French Children’s Books
Discussing the classics, the comics and the oddly familiar, we have your French kindergarten literature covered from back to front!
1.“Il Fait comment Le Caméléon?”/ “How Does the Chameleon Go?”
Author: Jean Maubille
For all our month-old readers in the house, it is best to start with the basics. This book focuses on pictures, vocabulary repetition, useful verbs and animal noises. Although completely juvenile in subject matter, it is a nice introduction into the structure of basic sentences. Through constant reinforcement, adult readers can familiarize themselves with these basic linguistic necessities… and also the fact that a French cow goes meuh!
2. “Monsieur Madame/ The “Mr. Men and Little Miss” Book Series
Author: Roger Hargreaves
A children’s classic such as this shouldn’t come as surprise on this list. More often than not, French children are brought up on many of the same bedtime stories that we were as youngsters. The familiarity of a childhood classic, rewritten in the beautiful French language, is very helpful in orienting yourself in your new language. This one is a goldmine for French comprehension development. Not only does it give your brain a better chance to decipher unfamiliar words solely through context (since you already know the story) but it can also bring you a fresh interpretation of the story.
For those of you denied the fun of “Monsieur Madame” as children, treat this suggestion as a variable and replace it with your own fondest childhood books – the Spot Collection, Dr. Seuss and “Curious George” are all available en francais.
3. “La Belle Lisse Poire du Prince du Motordu” /“The Prince of Motordu’s Beautifully Smooth Pear”
This clever little book that mightn’t reveal its true comedy prowess until you grasp the vocabulary used. Based on a prince who believes he lives in a chapeau (hat), as opposed to a chateau (castle), the story employs a mismatch of language that can only be rectified by the love of a future princess!
Through repetition and reverse psychology, this tale allows the reader to learn vocabulary in a different method than your usual picture recognition. It also provides examples of very similar words that aren’t to be confused, which could help you with mastering French false friends!
Author: René Goscinny
Recommending comic books during book club hours might be considered a cardinal sin – but we’ll let that slide for now. With an comic book history as long and hilarious as that of France, you would be remiss to ignore such a valuable and entertaining resource. French comic books have a great deal of literary benefit.
“Asterix” is a comic strip, or bandes dessines (BD), that has been charming both the French-speaking world and the world at large since the 1950’s. The plot surrounds a small village and their fight against Roman occupation. It is in this world that Asterix embarks on various comical adventures with the help of his bizarre friends. There are 35 volumes to choose from and numerous films to watch afterwards.
Similar to actual children’s books, comics present the reader with a visual dialogue to promote the best efficiency in language learning. Although the words and concepts are not as simple as your novice counting and color words, the minimalist format often encountered with BD’s still encourages progression for a beginner.
5. “Le Petit Prince” / “The Little Prince”
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
If you were to ask any French person of the most notable children’s story in French history, chances are “Le Petite Prince” would be their answer. First published in 1943, the book gained the respect of adults, critics and, of course, children everywhere.
In a nut shell, the story follows a young prince who has fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid. This one is more of a children’s novel than a toddler’s book. The beauty behind its cover lies not only in the simplistic language or endearing illustrations, but also in the rich subtext that comments upon social flaws and the strangeness of the modern world. Combining an easy-to-read format with a philosophically enriching plot, “Le Petite Prince” is a perfect read for any newcomer to the French language. Keeping a dictionary close by is never a bad idea either, as the purpose of reading is to cement the knowledge you do know and earn the vocabulary you don’t.
Being the most widely read, translated and celebrated book in France, this one provides some special opportunities that other novels simply cannot offer. After you have pondered the meaning of life and, of course, brushed up on your French reading, the option to explore this story as an audio book, play, ballet, TV show or movie are all available for further appreciation and learning.
6. “Les Contes du Chat Perché”/“The Tales of the Perched Cat”
Author: Marcel Aimé
Written across two volumes, this series follows two sisters with an affection and connection for the animal world, namely those that live on their parents’ farm. These tales utilize very simple language and have been described by the author as being for children aged between four and seventy-five years of age.
Maintaining seven to eight stories per volume allows for quick reads that can both satisfy the learner and provide realistic goals. The old-fashioned mentality of this literature can be trying at times, but, in the defense of all creative works, a blast from France’s 1930’s past can be a brilliant time capsule for the modern Francophiles of today!
7. “Le Petit Nicolas”/ “Little Nicholas”
Author: René Goscinny
Ready to graduate from preschool French and enter the big scary world of eight to ten year old readers? At this point, you will naturally find yourself at the beginning of“Le Petit Nicolas” series. Written by the author of the comic book series “Asterix,” this series is amaison favorite.
The books are written from little Nicolas’s point of view as he lives out a perfect childhood, rampant with the sweet, simple humor that one might have forgotten about with age and maturity. The juxtaposition between a child’s egocentricity and their untarnished expectations of simple, black and white, right and wrong proves both enlightening and entertaining for those living in the adult world. Another definite read for young and old alike!
On a linguistic level, sentences in this book are more difficult now with the introduction of casual French communication and a child narrator. Although the vocabulary can be managed with the help of an occasional visit to Google Translate, it is the sentence structure in these books that will have you exhausted sooner rather than later if you aren’t ready.
Options to view this novel as a film are now also available in French.
8. “Voyage au Pays des Arbes” / “Voyage to the Country of Trees”
Author: J.M.G. Le Clézio
A magical read into the poetic life of a young boy who befriends a forest of trees. The book projects beautiful metaphors that beg the reader to find allegories related to their own life – a convention of French children’s literature that seems often present.
Winner of a literary Nobel Prize, this novel will enhance your French vocabulary and provide insight into the romantic mentality of the language.
9.”Le Monde de Narnia”/ “The Chronicles of Narnia”
Author: C.S. Lewis
A literary classic in any language, “the Chronicles of Narnia” are perfect for a well adjusted reader. Despite being considered a serious novel by any standards, the book was still written with an easy-to-read format that is designed to motivate young readers to keep going until the end. Drawing on all the positives of a familiar text, reading “Le Monde de Narnia” is a no-brainer.
10. “Les Trois Mousquetaires” / “The Three Musketeers”
Author: Alexandre Dumas
“Tous pour un et un pour tous!” is a household saying that can be nonchalantly translated to mean “All for one and one for all!”It can also be pinned to the worldwide favorite, “Les Trois Mousquetaires,”a tale of comradery, romance and good old-fashioned dueling. If you can manage this story then you are well on your way to reading fluency and enjoying all that French literature has to offer!
Where to Find French Children’s Books
It may be all well and good to have a handy list of French novels at your disposal, but getting your hands on them may be another story. Luckily, we can give thanks to the internet for bringing the French library to our library by means of one or two clicks! To purchase any of the above titles or even read ebooks for free, browse websites such as:
Don’t forget: the option to pay a visit to your closest French association or trusty Alliance Francaise for a more hands-on approach is always available as well.
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
- Le Petit Prince. What better way to start our list of books to learn French than with Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince). ...
- Le Petit Nicolas. ...
- Arsène Lupin, Gentleman cambrioleur. ...
- Astérix et Obélix. ...
- Tintin. ...
- L'élégance du hérisson. ...
- Le chat du rabbin. ...
- Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran.
- Start with the alphabet and numbers. ...
- Introduce simple vocabulary and make it fun! ...
- Use music. ...
- Two words: MOVIE NIGHT! ...
- Comics are a good idea! ...
- Watch French cartoons. ...
- Try out some games from good online sites. ...
- Use different types of learning materials that the kids would enjoy.
French books are a great way for you, students, to improve your French, because they help work on all the different aspects of the language: grammar through writing , phonics through reading out loud , vocabulary which is good for the cultural aspect with the discovery of different authors.Can a 12 year old learn French? ›
You can learn a new language at any age. You don't need to be a toddler, or a kindergartener, or some other “magic age”, to become fluent in more than one language.How can I learn French fast? ›
- Watch films. Watching films in French with French subtitles is one of the best ways to learn. ...
- Learn with songs. ...
- Read. ...
- Find a partner. ...
- Don't be scared to try and make mistakes. ...
- Listen! ...
- Practice. ...
- Sign up for an intensive course.
- Use a French learning app (great for beginners) ...
- Listen to French radio. ...
- Read a French newspaper. ...
- Watch French TV shows and movies. ...
- Talk to people in French.
- Play categories. This is one of our favorites, and it takes almost no-prep. ...
- Teach them through context. This is much easier to do once students have a few words to make that context. ...
- Have a snowball fight. ...
- Immerse them in French. ...
- Use songs.
Learn French for beginners Lesson 1 - YouTubeHow can I speak French fluently? ›
How to Speak French Fluently — The Modern Way! - YouTubeIs 14 a good age to learn a language? ›
They concluded that the ability to learn a new language, at least grammatically, is strongest until the age of 18 after which there is a precipitous decline. To become completely fluent, however, learning should start before the age of 10.
And, children around the age of three or four can learn through play because they are not yet overwhelmed by facts and information that needs to be stored and assessed, which is something that happens as we grow older. “Bilingual children that learn a second language from an early age sound like a native in both.”Can you still learn after 25? ›
It's strongly believed that once we hit 25, the brain's plasticity solidifies. This makes it harder to create neural pathways, which can mean it's tougher to learn new skills. However, we believe it's possible to break apart rigid neural patterns in the brain.Can I learn French in 3 months? ›
You'll find that French isn't nearly as difficult as you've been led to believe. While you certainly won't master it in three months, especially if you can only put a few hours a week into it, you can make sure to be more efficient by following an initial plan of action.How long speak French fluently? ›
If you are an English speaker, learning French requires 575-600 hours of study (or 23-24 weeks full- time). It is the same for other European Romance languages (French, Italian, Spanish etc) and the Germanic ones (Danish, Swedish, Dutch/Afrikaans Norwegian – not German).Can I learn French on my own? ›
Contrary to what other people believe, learning French on your own is pretty achievable. With the right amount of motivation and commitment, a healthy learning habit, plus the right tools and method to guide you, yes you can teach yourself French.How can I learn French in 5 minutes? ›
Learn to speak French in 5 minutes - a dialogue for beginners! - YouTubeHow long will it take to learn French? ›
How long does it take to learn French? According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), French is a category 1 language. This means learning French takes 23 – 24 weeks (575 – 600 hours) for most English speakers. This makes French one of the easiest (and fastest) languages to learn.How can I speak French fluently in 30 days? ›
- Step 1: Define Your French Learning Goals. ...
- Step 2: Build Your Personal Reference Library. ...
- Step 3: Bookmark Pronunciation Resources. ...
- Step 4: Download Apps for On-the-go Learning. ...
- Step 5: Create Your Study Plan.
First and foremost, learning French is the pleasure of learning a beautiful, rich, melodious language that is often called the language of love. French is also an analytical language that structures thought and develops critical thinking, which is a valuable skill for discussions and negotiations.What makes a good French teacher? ›
There are plenty of characteristics that a teacher must possess to be a good language teacher; along with proficiency in a language, extraordinary reading, speaking and listening skills the teacher must, of course, demonstrate good use of vocabulary and command over the words.
It is important that they have excellent communication skills and are comfortable speaking in front of groups of people. French teachers should be passionate about the French language and culture. Being organized also can be important, as a large part of a teacher's job is creating and executing lesson plans.What is French beginner level? ›
A1 or Beginner: It is the most basic level of language learning. At this level, the user can do the following tasks: Can recognize and use known expressions and fundamental phrases that used in everyday needs.What is the easiest way to learn French for free? ›
- Duolingo French. Probably the most famous free language learning app Duolingo makes language learning fun, with daily five-minute lessons. ...
- Learn a Language. ...
- Busuu. ...
- Open Culture. ...
- LingoGlobe. ...
- Easy Language Exchange. ...
- Conversation Exchange. ...
- Language Share.
DELF A1 highlights the first knowledges in French language. DELF A1 recognizes basic knowledge. It is the most basic level at which a language is used, called the "discovery" stage. At this stage, the learner can interact in a simple way: he/she can speak about him/herself and his/her immediate environment.What level of French is Le Petit Prince? ›
Since French and English share so much vocabulary, it's easy to start reading in French, even as a beginner. Not only will you improve your French enormously by reading, you'll also enjoy your learning time too!How long does it take to learn French? ›
How long does it take to learn French? According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), French is a category 1 language. This means learning French takes 23 – 24 weeks (575 – 600 hours) for most English speakers. This makes French one of the easiest (and fastest) languages to learn.Is French for Dummies good? ›
French for Dummies is a good book for learning the grammar and structure of sentences. The format is easy to use and the book explains itself well as it goes along.What age is the little prince good for? ›
We recommend parental guidance for children aged 9-11 years. These are the main messages from this movie: 'One can only see rightly with the heart'. It's important to enjoy and embrace life.Is Le Petit Nicolas good for beginners? ›
Le Petit Nicolas by René Goscinny
The author tells the funny stories of Nicolas and his buddies at the 1st person singular, which makes it an easy-to-follow book, therefore a great choice for French rookies. As the book is mainly intended for children, its language is very simple.
Unfortunately, there are not many books that are suitable and enjoyable for both young and mature readers and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery is one of the very few. As the book is meant for children, it is very catchy, entertaining and easy to read.Can I learn French by listening? ›
With a French audio course, you'll learn language concepts while listening to French and building those comprehension skills. It's something textbooks can't offer. Audio courses can be the bridge between learner content and authentic content.How do you introduce yourself in French? ›
Learn French - How to Introduce Yourself in French - YouTubeWhat is the French alphabet? ›
I want to learn
Let's start with the good news: 'l'alphabet', the French alphabet, is the same as the English alphabet. Both languages share the same letters. However, they are not all pronounced the same way. The French alphabet also has some accents, which changes their pronunciation.
French is one of the easiest European languages to learn even when compared to English.Can I become fluent in French in a year? ›
Regardless of your definition of fluency, you'll need to practice the language if you want to master it. If you want a short answer, yes, you can become fluent in French in one year (or even less), especially if you follow the 10 steps included in the next section.What are Level 5 languages? ›
5 – Native / Bilingual Proficiency
Someone at this language proficiency level was either raised speaking the language as their native tongue or has been speaking it so long that they are completely fluent. They have little or no accent.