5 French books for beginners

So you want to start reading in French?

It can be an overwhelming thing to begin with so here’s some top tips to help you out:

  • Don’t look up every word you don’t know. It will take the joy out of it.
  • Pick a book you already know which has been translated into French (see number 4 below)
  • Start with children’s books as they may be written at a more accessible level.

Below you’ll find our pick of 5 French books for beginner and intermediate learners to get you started…

  1. Pas de Whisky pour Méphisto by Paul Thiès

‘Méphisto, c’est sûrement un sorcier déguisé en chat’

At only 38 pages long, most French learners need not be intimidated by this book. It’s a tale about a cat – Méphisto – who has a penchant for whiskey… (sounds great no?). This would be a great place to start if you’ve never read a book in French before.

2. Le Petit Nicolas by René Goscinny

Le Petit Nicolas is a series of French children’s books which have remained a firm favourite amongst adults and children alike since they were first published in 1959. These charming books are narrated by 7-year-old Nicolas who tells us of the world through his eyes. Funny, witty and easy to read they are a must for French learners at any level. The illustrations by the incredible Jean-Jacques Sempé make them easy to follow, even if you don’t have all the vocab.  If you like them, you can also watch the 2009 film adaption (watch the trailer here).

3. Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Le petit prince is one of the best-selling books ever written and it has been translated into over 300 languages. Its enduring charm has captivated both adults and children since it was first published in 1943. But be under no illusion, its seemingly simple tale is filled with meaningful lessons about life…

4. Any Harry Potter book translated into French

If you are a Hogwarts fan, chances are you know the stories like the back of your hand. In that case, it can be a good idea to get hold of a French translation. As you are already familiar with the story, it can be easier to guess the vocab. You will also have huge respect for the ingenious translators tasked with accurately translating the names of spells and places. Can you guess what “Poufsouffle”, ‘baguette magique’ and ‘Choixpeau Magique’ mean?

5. L’Étranger by Albert Camus

Long considered a classic of 20th century literature, L’Étranger is ranked number 1 on Le Monde’s ‘100 books of the century’ list. Written by Albert Camus in 1942, the book demonstrates the depths of human apathy as the main character, Meursault, is put on trial for the murder of an Arab man. Featuring murder, death and grief this isn’t a light read but if you want to really test your French with a literary classic, this one could be for you.

We hope this list helps you on your journey to reading in French. And don’t forget that if you need some 1:1 support from our tutors (or even some book recommendations!) you can book a free 15 minute consultation with us today.

Happy reading!

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