Improve your family’s French language skills by reading these fun French children’s books together. Learn words for colours and animals, meet quirky characters, and your little ones might learn some useful life lessons along the way
Tarte aux Fées
Do you know a slug pie when you taste one? La Tarte aux Fées is a simple story of a daddy toad trying very hard to get little toad to eat his dinner by telling him just a bit of a fairy tale. French children’s book author Michael Escoffier has written over 50 books so there are plenty of titles to choose from. Another of Escoffier’s most famous books La Mouche qui Pète looks not quite at the butterfly effect, but that of a fly farting.
Pop Mange de Toutes les Couleurs
A fun way to learn the names of colours in French, Pop Mange de Toutes les Couleurs by Alex Sanders and Pierrick Bisinski is a cute story about a dinosaur that changes colour depending on what they eat. The book has neat block graphics and a mix of type and drawn text. For a simpler, rawer story with entirely drawn text on the same subject, Sander’s earlier book Toutes les Couleurs shows a rabbit covering himself in colours from grass, mud and strawberries.
La Grande Plongée
Dive in and discover the depths of the ocean in La Grande Plongée by Lucie Brunellière. Travel with the Sonarus submarine from the polar oceans to the warm seas of the south. Adults and children will love the magic of the marine world, especially when the intricate illustrations are combined with the specially made soundtrack for an epic multi-sensory experience.
Émile est Invisible
Children with a stubborn or mischievous side might find a kindred spirit in Émile. Created by Vincent Cuvellier and Ronan Badel, the Émile series follows the young boy on his childhood missions and adventures. These include Émile deciding he wants a plaster cast – but without getting hurt, needing to choose an activity club at school, experiencing a car breakdown, and deciding he wants to be invisible.
Great for bedtime reading, Mon Amour is a heart-warming story about a mum tucking her son up in bed and reassuring him of her unconditional love. If you enjoy this story, Desbordes and illustrator Pauline Martin have created five other books following the same little boy and his family.
L’Ecole de Léon
Starting school, especially perhaps a new French school can be daunting. Serge Bloch’s L’Ecole de Léon shows Léon starting école maternelle (aged 3) and adjusting to the new world he finds himself in.
Dis-moi Grand Ours
Coralie Saudo has worked with a number of different illustrators for her childrens’s books, which include Le Petit Renard des Villes, illustrated by Mélanie Fuentes – about a fox searching for a friend, and La Planète de Grand-Père illustrated by Marie Lafrance – which looks at dementia in a sensitive and beautiful way. Saudo’s latest book, Dis-moi Grand Ours, is one she has illustrated herself; clean bright shapes and colours show a big bear and a little bear walk and talk about birds, rainbows, and life.
Sous Mon Arbre
This delightful picture book tells the tale of a little girl’s relationship with her favourite tree. Follow the life-cycle of the tree as you lift each page, and thus a layer of the cut-out circle away, and see a new exciting illustration of the branches and leaves. Sous Mon Arbre author Jo Witek and illustrator Christine Roussey have also created Dans Mon Petit Coeur in the same cut-out style, this time in a heart shape, and featuring the same red-cheeked little girl.
Les Émotions de Gaston
Gaston is a magic unicorn with a rainbow mane. Except, when he feels a strong emotion his mane becomes just one colour. It is green when he is scared, purple when he feels shy, and yellow when he is very happy. A cleverv series written and illustrated by Aurélie Chien Chow China to help parents and children discuss and name emotions. Each emotion has its own book and a little suggested exercise, and the series can be bought as a collection.