Family, Friends, and Français: Literacy – Recommended Reading

by Corey · 5 comments

By Sarah Dodson-Knight
Photo credit: rick

According to language acquisition specialists like Stephen Krashen, the best way to learn new vocabulary and grammatical structures is not through direct instruction but rather via books. So if you want your children to be able to communicate successfully about their family and their friends and what they do together on a daily basis, read them lots and lots of books on the topic!

Welcome to part Three of Friends, Family, and Français: Literacy (Recommended Reading). In this post, we’ll explore books (in French) about love between parents and children, about siblings, and about friendship. In two weeks, we’ll continue this article with literacy activities that you can do with your children to discuss, read, and write about friends and family in the target language (French, English, or any other!).

In “Family, Friends, and Français,” we’ll explore the following:

Join us on this romp through the French family tree! A new article will appear on Multilingual Living every two weeks.

Books about love between parents and children

Caillou: Ma maman à moi by Hélène Desputeaux: From the series (in French and in English) about the bald child Caillou. In this board book, Caillou tells us about what he likes to do with his mother. See also Caillou: Mon papa à moi and Caillou: Comme papa, in which Caillou tries imitate the activities that his father does, even though he’s too little to do them all.

De tout mon cœur by Jean-Baptiste Baronian: A sweet story of a young polar bear who interrogates his friends (other Arctic animals) about how their parents show them that they love them.

Devine combien je t’aime by Sam McBratney: A translation of the modern classic Guess How Much I Love You, in which a young hare and his mother demonstrate the boundless nature of their love. Easily available in the US.

J’aime mon papa by Marie-Pierre Emorine and Karine Quesada: An exploration of what fathers around the world do with their children, lushly illustrated. Especially recommended for its rhymes, its evocative illustrations, and the fact that it focuses on people, not animals, like so many others on this list.

Je t’aimerai toujours by Robert Munsch:  This moving story, Love You Forever, about a mother’s love for her son even when he’s a grown man, always brings tears to my eyes whether I read the original in English or the French translation. Easily available in the US.

La boîte à bisous by Jo Hoestlandt: A brother and sister, struggling to figure out what to give their parents as an anniversary present, decide to fill a box with kisses for them, “plein plein plein. Tellement plein qu’à la fin, ils on du mal à refermer la boîte.”

L’alphabet de la famille by Marianne Dupuy-Sauze: An alphabet book where each letter represents an object, person, or activity from daily family life.

L’arbre généreux by Shel Silverstein: A translation of the classic picture book The Giving Tree in which a tree represents a mother’s boundless love for her often clueless son. Easily available in the US.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah @ Bringing up Baby Bilingual March 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm

If you have other suggestions of books that should be on this list, please leave a comment below! For example, a visitor to my blog recommended “Benjamin et le bebe” (a translation of one of Paulette Clark’s Franklin series) as a good treatment of the idea of getting a new sibling.

To see a more detailed description of a few of the books from this list, plus pictures of some of their pages, please visit this post from my blog about a French storytime I co-led on this topic:


2 Heather Lakhal March 29, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Wonderful and helpful list. But equally as important information is where these books can be found in the U.S. (no easy task here in Seattle). If you have any resources, will you please let me know?



3 Olivia April 3, 2011 at 7:15 pm or is always a good bet for these! Shipping is a bit pricey, but if you order several at once, it is worth it, and shipping is less from Canada.

You also might try the Alliance Française in Seattle. I believe they have a lending library that includes kids books.


4 Sarah @ Bringing up Baby Bilingual March 30, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Hi Heather,

Thanks for your comment and question! I wish I had an easy answer for you. I live in Colorado and have found children’s books in French in the following ways:

–library used book sales
–garage sales
–used book stores (some owners will make a note of what you’re interested in and let you know when they get books that match your interest)
–exhibit halls at conferences for foreign language teachers
–eBay (US and Canada sites)
– (as noted above, some are easily available in the US; Amazon’s algorithims will also suggest other children’s books in French that they carry)
–having friends/family buy books for me when they travel to Francophone countries
–purchasing from US vendors like World of Reading and Sosnowski Books
–befriending other French speakers whose children are older than mine and who are willing to pass their kids’ outgrown materials on to me!

And you can always purchase a subscription to Les Petits Livres to rent French children’s books by mail! Many of the books on my list are available from this company.

Bon courage!

Anyone else have suggestions of where to buy French books outside of Francophone countries?


5 Annie December 18, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I am trying to find a book that I read over and over as a child,. It was in English with introduction to many French words. The story line was about two little girls who met and became friends even though they spoke different languages. I specifically remember them having a picnic together. I believe one girls name was Lilli and the other girl may have been Vivienne (not sure). Any idea how I might behind to hunt for this book?
Thanks so much.
Annie in Montana


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