July 22, 2019
Where can I buy French children’s books?
Beautiful French children’s book recommendations and links all verified for you.
A question which frequently pops up with parents who come to my Mini Languages programmes is… where can I buy French children’s books?
I love French kids books but I find them quite expensive. My children and I have built up our collection over nearly a decade! I always make sure to pop into any beautiful bookshops I pass in France. Two of my faves are Gibert Joseph in Versaillesand Librairie l’Armitière in Rouen. I scour flea markets and I always pick some up in supermarkets where I find the prices are more affordable.
You do get some English books with French, “My First 100 Words in French” and the like, but I think stories can be more entertaining and therefore engaging. When there is a storyline, words are used in context which is a more powerful way to acquire new words.
But what can you do if you can’t get to France?
Firstly, try Amazon for French children’s books.
It can be hard to know if the book will be good when browsing online, so here are some that I like:
- Toutes les couleurs by Alex Sanders Paperback – 24 May 2001 click here
A simple, cute story that I have been reading to my children for years. Little rabbit gets up to a few things which causes him to get covered in lots of different colours. Learn colours and also some other helpful words including body parts. Easy to read even if you have limited French yourself as aimed at toddlers.
- La Chenille Qui Fait Des Trous by Eric Carle Board book – 07 October 2004 click here
If you fancy one which you already know in English then I would recommend The Hungry Caterpillar. For some reason, they translate it as The Caterpillar That Made Holes, for info! Beginners won’t know all the French words but you will probably have the English version at home so can use it as a cheat sheet.
- Pop Mange De Toutes Les Couleurs by Pierrick Bisinski Paperback – 21 Nov 2008 click here
Back to toddler friendly books. I like the pop books as the illustrations are a treat for the eyes with lots of bright bold colours. In this instalment the friendly dinosaur Pop eats lots of colourful food! One thing to watch, the text is in cursive writing.
- Pourquoi? by Alex Sanders Paperback – 6 Jun 2003 click here
Another Petit Lapin early years French book by Alex Sanders. Again, this is a simple tale with body parts where little rabbit is asking, “Why do we have ears? Why do we have eyes?…” Then there is a little twist at the end. My children love this book.
- T’Choupi Series by Thierry Courtin
I have not put a link here as there are many in the series. I love that these books also touch on many aspects of French culture like going to the market, eating a galette des rois in January… Plastic pages and good for all levels follow T’Choupi on his adventures!
Secondly, monthly to your door.
What if I were to tell you that there is also a service where you can have brand new, professionally selected, French kid’s books delivered monthly to your door… (I should note at this point that I have no affiliation with this service).
L’école des loisirs is a renowned French language publishing house specialising in children’s books. They created the Max Book Club (L’école des max), offering subscribers eight books a year from November to June to reach a wider audience. This service is available internationally.
We have been subscribed to the service since my children were pretty much new-born thanks to their French grand-parents and I would highly recommend it. I like books from a range of publishing houses but I think most of our family favourites are from L’école des loisirs.
There are eight ‘series’ or categories within the book club. Each series is designed for a certain age group. I would recommend sticking to the early age series’ BEBEMAX or TITOUMAX as they are suitable for up to age 3 and age 2 to 4 respectively but the vocabulary will be challenging enough for non-French speakers. They have simple sentences, bright illustrations and engaging stories which will have you learning French together through age-appropriate vocabulary.
Through their website you can also peek inside the books to see the level. The website is quite comprehensive with some audio versions available. I’d encourage you to check it out.
How do you subscribe?
There are two types of subscriptions: Individual or Group. My family qualifies as a ‘Group’ as we have three children all receiving books (from different series). This qualifies us for a slightly reduced rate. £35 – £42 per child (depending on series). So, if you can find two other willing friends, you could subscribe as a group as it is an attractive price for kids’ books. You will receive the books in one package to a single address.
Otherwise, you can sign up as an individual. Prices start at £48 for the BEBEMAX series. If you have any issues or questions there is a UK contact email address on the website.
To note, if you subscribe after November you receive all the previous books for that season – so you can sign up at any time – perhaps a Christmas idea from a generous relative? Or one for the Santa list?
Finding French children’s books in the UK can be tricky but reading can be a really wonderful way to improve, not only your own French but your cultural awareness. So why not check out the book club and receive a little language gift every month?
Bonne lecture! Have fun reading!