Reading works of literature is an important step for learners, as it demonstrates a genuine autonomy and a certain level of skill. However, encountering full books can put off some students who don’t feel that they’ve reached the required level.
In reality, reading is an integral part of the journey when learning French, and undoubtedly helps students to improve their standard in many areas. What matters is choosing
books for learning French
that suit your level and your personal preferences.
What benefits does reading offer in general? What are the ten best books for learning French among the wide selection available? Should you choose what to read depending on your age or on other factors?
Reading helps to enrich your vocabulary. Engaging with works of literature is also a valuable tool in helping you to understand the culture and history of a country. Zola, Maupassant, Flaubert and Balzac are observers of their era. As Balzac said, is it not the goal of a writer “to describe society as a whole, as it is”? This sociological and cultural function will help to give you a better understanding of French society.
If you opt for lessons in French culture and flavours, you will discover new sensations. Isn’t Marcel Proust’s famous experience of tasting a madeleine proof that tastes lead us to recall memories buried deep within our minds?
It’s perfectly fine to stop reading a book and come back to it later. Sometimes, you find that a book you’re not enjoying right now will actually become really interesting in a few months’ time. The best books for learning French are those that you’ve chosen freely and without any time constraints!
Get into the habit of looking up the meanings of words and expressions that you don’t know. Don’t try to translate word for word as you read, otherwise you’ll find yourself glued to your dictionary. And if you’ve heard people talking about a particular book, don’t be afraid to ask your teacher if it’s suitable for your current level.
While you are learning French at the Centre International d’Antibes, if you like an excerpt from a film or a text that you’ve studied, find out where it came from. Very often, it will have come from a work of literature which you’re also likely to be interested in.
There’s a wide selection available, and each book has something of its own to offer. Whenever anyone asks “
how long does it take to learn French?”, the answer is that reading regularly is a foolproof way to make progress.
Lots of students ask which books they should read as a priority.When it comes to suggesting a list of the best French books for learning French , there are so many options and it is difficult to remain impartial. The LFF (Lire en Français Facile – “Read in Easy French”) collection by the publisher Hachette offers works of literature for children and teenagers. Each book in the collection has been adapted for this younger audience and is accompanied by the corresponding audio book.
The best French books for learning
come from every literary genre. Paroles (Words) by Jacques Prévert is a collection of poems that is accessible for students at elementary levels. Pas de whisky pour Méphisto (No Whisky for Méphisto) by Paul Thiès, Le Petit Nicolas (Little Nicholas) by Sempé and Goscinny or La guerre des jumeaux (War of the Twins) by Sylvie Schmitt will all delight young readers. M. Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran (Mr Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran) by Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt is suitable for adults at a similar level.
More experienced readers will thoroughly enjoy Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin or Marcel Pagnol’s Le château de ma mère (My Mother’s Castle). For those who have reached an advanced level, Le dernier ami (The Last Friend) by Tahar Ben Jelloun, Au bonheur des dames (The Ladies’ Paradise) by Émile Zola and Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris, published in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame) are all safe bets.
Is it possible to
learn French through comics? Yes! The use of illustrations helps with understanding and creates a relaxed environment which is invaluable for those who are learning to read in French. If your teenager is not a keen reader, suggest that they try cartoons – no doubt they’ll soon change their minds!
Take advantage of your French classes for adults and children to discover the biggest names of French comic book culture. The dialogue found in the speech bubbles is shorter than what you might find in a novel, for example. And you’ll encounter every kind of swear word and example of onomatopoeia. In addition, comics help readers to become more receptive to a country’s specific brand of humour.
Finally, it’s an opportunity for your kids to discover France’s history or its great writers. The Ils ont fait l’histoire (They Made History) collection, published by Glénat et Fayard, will immerse you in the lives of illustrious historical figures, while the Ex Libris collection, published by Delcourt, will introduce you to the great literary classics.