Updated: Apr 14, 2021
Last month we discussed the best ways to help your child learn and process French. One method we mentioned was introducing your child to French books. Reading French helps to immerse your child in both the language and the culture, therefore making the process of acquiring a language that much more enjoyable. But finding books in another language can be difficult, particularly if you don’t speak that language. Where to even begin? How do you know which are the best French books for beginners? Well, we think we can help you out.
Each of these books is tried and tested.
These range in level from beginner to intermediate, depending on your child’s age and fluency. Each one is available online.
Books by Elise Gravel
Elise Gravel is a French-Canadian artist hailing from Montreal who writes and draws books for children. These are some of the best French books for beginners; Gravel’s drawings are cute and quirky, as she’s had her entire life to hone her style. She illustrates her own lyrics, creating a fully comprehensive world within a small book that is sure to keep your kids enthralled. Her books include such fun-loving titles as Une Patate à Vélo, La Tribu Qui Pue, Le Pire Livre du Monde, Super-Dudu, Monstres en Vrac, Adopte un Gnap!, and Le Grand Antonio, to name just a few. As her books are categorised by difficulty, it’s easy to choose one to suit your child’s fluency. You can find all her books on her website here.
Le journal D’Aurélie Laflamme by India Desjardins
This epistolary novel series embraces the intimate form of diary entries to bring teen readers further into the story. The book series is another instant YA classic alongside those like The Princess Diaries; Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging; and The Royal Diaries series. Like those other novels, these books have relatable dialogue and scenarios that make learning French that much more interesting for teens. Before they know it, they’ll be completely immersed and feeling as though they’re chatting away with their pal at lunch. You can find the complete series of Le journal D’Aurélie Laflamme online here or online and in shop at Indigo.
Carnet de bord de Greg by Jeff Kinney
Speaking of epistolary novels, any kid who loves Diary of a Wimpy Kid will absolutely adore this French edition. With plenty of illustrations, this translation of the kid’s classic is definitely one of the best French books for beginners. In a cartoon style of fiction and illustration, these books are great at captivating young readers – especially for those kids who haven’t quite sparked an interest for reading yet. You can find Carnet de bord de Greg online here or in store and online in Indigo.
Max et Lili Series by Dominique de Saint Mars
This series is excellent for a household with multiple kids, and are definitely some of the best French books for beginners. With a cast of characters for their enjoyment, your kids can mix and match, swap and chat. This is especially helpful if you’ve got multiple children learning French. Conversation is one of the best ways for them to learn the language, and discussing these books will contribute to that. Max and Lili feature together in some books, and separately in others. They find themselves in a range of situations, so your kids can choose the books that seem most interesting and relatable. The series covers real life hardships with sparkling humour. Max and Lili explore themes like bullying, losing a pet or grandparent, and their relationships with their family alongside accounts of their adventures. Max et Lili can be found online here or in store and online at Indigo. And don’t worry about running out of books – the series currently has more than 120 volumes to choose from.
Série Mademoiselle C by Dominique Demers
This is another excellent series to keep your kids entertained for years. The Mademoiselle C series is for 7 years and older, and its language is a good start for early French learners. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, matched with fun, enthralling stories. It’s a classic among French-speaking children, so much so that a film adaptation was released in 2002. The books follow the eccentric Mademoiselle Charlotte and her elementary school students – sort of like a less magical book-form of The Magic School Bus. The Mademoiselle C series can be found online or in shop at Indigo.
For older kids, we’d recommend Short Stories in French by Olly Richards and Richard Simcott. This book is for beginner to intermediate learners, and for those in their teens. The stories are quirky and unconventional. To find more of the best French books for beginners or if we haven’t listed a book that you think suits your kid, here are two good resources. Consider your holiday shopping done! These books are both educational and enjoyable. Let us know which one worked for your child, or if there’s one we missed!