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classic French children's books

french children literature

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#1 anabelneri

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 04:50 PM

Hello!

I was thinking about classic children's literature today, and realized that it might be fun to look at classic French children's literature. What are your favorite French books for a young child? Or for a grade-school child?

For example, in English I'd suggest One Fish Two Fish (and other Dr. Seuss), Go Dog Go (and other P.D. Eastman books), Brown Bear Brown Bear (and other Eric Carle books), and maybe some Karen Katz (Where is Baby's Belly Button, not because it's great literature but because my toddler loved it) or Tomie dePaola (Strega Nona is a favorite in our house). Also, Goodnight Moon and The Little Engine That Could.

I'd love some French kids' lit ideas!
Merci!

#2 C_l_e_0..Q_c

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 07:49 PM

There's actually very little French lit for kids. Even my son's official reading list has a lot of translations on it.
There's the ubiquituous author la Comtesse de Ségur. She wrote a ton of books. Some have survived the test of time, others not so much.
Goscinny and Stanké with Le petit Nicolas. And lots and lots of bandes dessinées: Asterix, Tintin, les Schtroumpfs, Gaston Lagaffe, and many others.

#3 yvonne

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 11:36 PM

I've asked all my French in-laws for suggestions about this and came up with.... nothing! Even from the ones who were elementary level school teachers and the ones who have children my children's ages!

I asked Rea/Rebecca Berg of Beautiful Feet (who did a PhD, I believe, in children's lit and who knows more about children's lit than anyone I've ever found,) and she had no suggestions either for specific books, specific authors, or places I could look to find out about classic French children's literature.

I talked to a couple of French children's section librarians when I was in France and read a book on the history of French "children's literature" while I was there. The bottom line seems to be that there simply is _not_ a tradition of children's literature in France. There are a lot of translations of children's lit, but not a lot of true, French authored children's classics.

Translations that seem to be popular in France include Enid Blyton's Club des Cinq series, Eric Carle books, Cabane Magique (Magic Tree House), and other American/English children's lit including the ubiquitous Twilight, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson books.

Original, classic French books for children that I've found include fables by LaFontaine or Comtesse de Segur, the Petit Ours Brun series (I love these for the youngest ones!), Jules Verne books, Antoine de Saint-Exupery's Le Petit Prince, and the Petit Nicolas series. Flammarion's Pere Castor stories for children to about 10 or 11 years old are excellent, for the most part. Gallimard Jeunesse has a lot of beautifully done non-fiction books, but I wouldn't consider those to be "classics" or typically French children's lit.

Not sure if Krings is a French author, but these seem to be all over France: Antoon Krings' books.

Popular early readers in France seem to include the Max et Lili and Ratus series of books, but these are typical early readers--definitely not anything that even approaches "literature." The L'Imagerie series is also great (non-fiction) for early readers.

There are loads of bandes dessinees (comic strip style books) and manga books in France, some tolerable because they're classically French like Tintin or Asterix, but mostly sheer trash (imo.) I still remember coming out of a book store in Paris and seeing young adult boys/men sitting on the steps of the book store reading. At least 20 of them. Wow, I thought, that's impressive. Until I saw they were all reading bandes dessinees. :thumbdown: (Later I discovered that at least some (most?) of the bd's seem to have pretty graphic, disgusting sexual content. No wonder the big appeal for young adult males.... Yes, ok, I may be overgeneralizing, but after seeing a couple of them, I will never let any of them in my house besides Tintin and Asterix.)

Having been unable to find much in the way of classic French children's lit, I decided to look for some good French children's book illustrators. I spent days at the FNAC book store and the library going through the shelves of children's books, one. at. a. time, hoping to at least find a few illustrators I liked so that I could just order other books ill'd by them. Nothing! I have been so spoiled by excellent English and American illustrators! I did like the Ernest and Celestine books and the Pere Castor division books, but not much else.

Sadly, there simply is not the same tradition of children's lit in France as there is in the US or in England.

Oh, and another bit of information on buying French books.... New book prices are regulated by the government, so you won't find a better price at one store over another or on-line vs. a bricks and mortar store in France, not even at amazon.fr! (Used books can be found on ebay.fr, but, because prices for the new books are kept uniform across stores, the prices on used books are not as low as you'd find for used books in the States.)

Let's see. I think that's pretty much the extent of what I've been able to find out about classic French children's lit. :)

yvonne

#4 anabelneri

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 02:45 AM

Thanks, Cleo and Yvonne. I understand better why I haven't been finding things. I can feel less guilty now.

Hmmm... I guess I'll continue working the way I have been until we're ready for more advanced stuff. My toddler is loving "Bonsoir Lune" anyway. I am looking forward to being ready for Tomi Ungerer in French, though... we quite enjoy his books in English.

:)
Anabel

#5 C_l_e_0..Q_c

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 08:14 AM

However, if you are willing to steer away from France, Quebec has a vibrant children's lit culture.
The French will be slightly different, but still correct. Quebec is now profoundly atheist, and the books will reflect that (almost every family is divorced, parents are remarried or never married to start with, etc...)

Ma favourite Quebec library is
http://www.renaud-br...px?wbgc_iNo=138 (that link should bring you directly to the Jeunesse/Québécois section)

I just found this book: L'arbre aux coeurs which sounds like a good read.

Papineau, Lucie is an author that writes for young kids. She's very popular.
DEMERS, TRISTAN is another one that's quite known too.

This one Un dîner en fuite just makes me laugh. I haven't read it, but I can see it being a great read.

Another one that looks good for young kids: Devant chez moi

#6 MamaBearTeacher

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 06:41 PM

We read Sans Famille by Hector Malot last year and my children enjoyed it. It is a very good novel for children. For toddlers I would not overlook the Caillou books. They would not be considered "classic" but they are excellent for little ones.

#7 enviromommy

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 10:53 AM

New here (just posted my intro) but one quick thing came to mind. This is for older children, not your kids' age, but when they are older, there is a truly classic book written in the late 19th Century called "Le Tour de la France par Deux Enfants." It is a very sappy, ultra-patriotic, sentimentalist book, written and used in French schools at the end of the 19th century to teach patriotism and French geography. It was written after the 1870 war in which France lost Alsace-Lorraine to the Germans until WWI. The plot is basically that two children, after their father dies, set off on a walk around France, learning about the different regions as they go. It's very old-fashioned, but I LOVE it.

Again, that's not for now, but I'd keep it in mind for later.

#8 yvonne

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 06:39 PM

How could I forget?!? Our favorite French children's books so far: Pierre Probst's Caroline series. The old editions are the best. Do not buy the new editions with the new, cartoony, ugly illustrations.

#9 Lune

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 07:34 PM

Some other classic French books for children:

Les contes du chat perché (Marcel Aymé)
L'enfant et la rivière (Henri Bosco)
Contes (Charles Perrault)
Crin-Blanc (René Guillot)
Lettres de mon moulin and Tartarin de Tarascon (Alphonse Daudet)
Poil de Carotte (Jules Renard)
La Gloire de mon père, Le Château de ma mère, Le Temps des secrets (Marcel Pagnol)
La Guerre des boutons (Louis Pergaud)
Le lion (Joseph Kessel)
La sorcière de la rue Mouffetard : Et autres contes de la rue Broca (Pierre Gripari)
Bécassine series (Joseph Porphyre Pinchon et Caumery)
Martine series (Gilbert Delahaye et Marcel Marlier)

There are loads of bandes dessinees (comic strip style books) and manga books in France, some tolerable because they're classically French like Tintin or Asterix, but mostly sheer trash (imo.) I still remember coming out of a book store in Paris and seeing young adult boys/men sitting on the steps of the book store reading. At least 20 of them. Wow, I thought, that's impressive. Until I saw they were all reading bandes dessinees. :thumbdown: (Later I discovered that at least some (most?) of the bd's seem to have pretty graphic, disgusting sexual content. No wonder the big appeal for young adult males.... Yes, ok, I may be overgeneralizing, but after seeing a couple of them, I will never let any of them in my house besides Tintin and Asterix.)


Le Marsupilami, Les Schtroumpfs and Boule & Bill are totally appropriate for children too. :)

#10 anabelneri

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Posted 11 April 2010 - 12:00 AM

Thank you thank you thank you.

After the recent posts I realized that I have a Martine book on our shelf, and we also have Juliette book (which seems geared toward a younger crowd than Martine).

I'll have to look up the others listed. Thank goodness summer is coming!

:)

#11 mommy4ever

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 07:06 PM

I clearly remember a book, it would be for a child about 10-12, depending. The title was Les malheurs de Sophie.

It was about a mischievous girl. IT was part of a reading series, there were about 40 books in. But I can't remember any more.

#12 C_l_e_0..Q_c

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 07:20 PM

I clearly remember a book, it would be for a child about 10-12, depending. The title was Les malheurs de Sophie.

It was about a mischievous girl. IT was part of a reading series, there were about 40 books in. But I can't remember any more.


That's a classic from Comtesse de Ségur, already mentionned in this thread. There was a TV show (a cartoon) when my DD was a little thing, where Sophie moves to America - very non-Ségur if you ask me.. :)

#13 mommy4ever

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 09:32 PM

Really? I didn't know there was a cartoon, mind you I grew up with rabbit ears and 3 channels on a clear day. I did see the French film with that as well. I went with Mémère to watch it.

#14 C_l_e_0..Q_c

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 07:11 AM

Le Marsupilami, Les Schtroumpfs and Boule & Bill are totally appropriate for children too. :)


These three have been a great hit with my daughter.

#15 ginnymarney

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 11:22 AM

One delightful book we've got in both French and English is "Oups" ("Oops" in English) which is a large format story by someone called Fromental about a family who have only 90 minutes to get across Paris to the airport.

I've also been reading in French or translating as I go along the Petit OUrs Brun books - and may get a magazine subscription this year as our son won't be doing French in his new school. Bayard Jeunesse publish this series and have online extras too.

Other books our son likes are the T'choupi story books which are on similar themes to the Petit Ours Brun ones, eg going to school, eating out, playing with friends, the seaside.

For more factual books aimed at children - which help us develop our vocabulary - we love the Imagerie series and the one aimed at younger children (Petite Imagerie?). The Le Train version of the former is particularly delightful for a little boy who is as avid a fan of trains as our 4 year old is.

#16 mooooom

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 12:56 PM

Madeline & the Babar series? Aren't those original French?

#17 stripe

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Posted 28 December 2010 - 11:33 AM

I was looking at e-books and found some leads....

I just found these from http://www.snee.com/epubkidsbooks/ :

Miquette baptise sa poupée by Sans Camo
Escapade du Miquette by Sans Camo

Project Gutenberg also has these other two titles for "Children's stories, French" subject heading
Légendes pour les enfants by Paul Boiteau d'Ambly and Bertall
ABC by Jules Lemaître

I also found 57 French titles on the Children's International Digital Library. I think these are only for viewing online.

And I found this French website which has some kids' books available for download. may I sorted by price, so the free ones come up first. There are obvious translations (Alice au Pays des Merveilles, Pinocchio, Le Chien de Baskerville, which I didn't realize was for kids!, and so on) but I think there are some French language originals in there somewhere.

Also I found La Bibliothèque électronique du Québec, which has some interesting quebecois things, for free. Three titles for children.

#18 Cleopatra

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 02:04 AM

What great recommendations!

I wanted to let you all know that many of these books can be found on the Amazon Canadian website (amazon.ca). I assume the shipping would be much less than if you purchased them from Amazon France.

Happy reading! :001_smile:

#19 cdgni

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 02:54 AM

Can you give me an approximate age for these books? My daughter attends the Lycee. She speaks/reads French at school. She needs to read more in French at home. I need to buy book that are appropriate for the 6 eme.


Thanks!

Some other classic French books for children:

Les contes du chat perché (Marcel Aymé)
L'enfant et la rivière (Henri Bosco)
Contes (Charles Perrault)
Crin-Blanc (René Guillot)
Lettres de mon moulin and Tartarin de Tarascon (Alphonse Daudet)
Poil de Carotte (Jules Renard)
La Gloire de mon père, Le Château de ma mère, Le Temps des secrets (Marcel Pagnol)
La Guerre des boutons (Louis Pergaud)
Le lion (Joseph Kessel)
La sorcière de la rue Mouffetard : Et autres contes de la rue Broca (Pierre Gripari)
Bécassine series (Joseph Porphyre Pinchon et Caumery)
Martine series (Gilbert Delahaye et Marcel Marlier)



Le Marsupilami, Les Schtroumpfs and Boule & Bill are totally appropriate for children too. :)



#20 training5

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 11:28 PM

:lurk5:

#21 nikole95

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Posted 13 January 2011 - 11:52 AM

Some other classic French books for children:

Les contes du chat perché (Marcel Aymé)
L'enfant et la rivière (Henri Bosco)
Contes (Charles Perrault)
Crin-Blanc (René Guillot)
Lettres de mon moulin and Tartarin de Tarascon (Alphonse Daudet)
Poil de Carotte (Jules Renard)
La Gloire de mon père, Le Château de ma mère, Le Temps des secrets (Marcel Pagnol)
La Guerre des boutons (Louis Pergaud)
Le lion (Joseph Kessel)
La sorcière de la rue Mouffetard : Et autres contes de la rue Broca (Pierre Gripari)
Bécassine series (Joseph Porphyre Pinchon et Caumery)
Martine series (Gilbert Delahaye et Marcel Marlier)



Le Marsupilami, Les Schtroumpfs and Boule & Bill are totally appropriate for children too. :)

After the recent posts I realized that I have a Martine book on our shelf, and we also have Juliette book (which seems geared toward a younger crowd than Martine).

#22 Martha

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 12:34 AM

*bump*
:)

#23 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 05:55 PM

Great thread!

 

My kids are bilingual, as am I, but I always worry about my accent.  :-) 

 

We have really enjoyed the audio books by Jobert

 

Another of our favorite French audio books is the translation of Kipling's Just So Stories- Histoires Comme Ca  (*whispering* I actually like this better than Jim Weiss's narration in English, which I love! )

 

We are lucky to have lots of these at our children's library, so I just take them home and copy them to my itunes!



#24 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 05:56 PM

Also, the Petit Nicolas audio books are TO DIE FOR!  Wonderfully done.



#25 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 06:02 PM

Another set of "modern classics" for littles are books such as:

Frederic le Moustique, Patouche la Mouche, Margot l'Escargot, etc.



#26 garddwr

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 06:43 PM

I think others have already listed my favorites, but I'm posting anyway to say this is a great thread, thanks!



#27 Julie Smith

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 06:54 PM

Great thread!

 

My kids are bilingual, as am I, but I always worry about my accent.  :-) 

 

We have really enjoyed the audio books by Jobert

 

Another of our favorite French audio books is the translation of Kipling's Just So Stories- Histoires Comme Ca  (*whispering* I actually like this better than Jim Weiss's narration in English, which I love! )

 

We are lucky to have lots of these at our children's library, so I just take them home and copy them to my itunes!

 

Thanks for these links. 

 

:)



#28 Julie Smith

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 07:02 PM

Also, the Petit Nicolas audio books are TO DIE FOR!  Wonderfully done.

 

Anyone have a link where I can peek inside one of the books? I want to see how long it will be before we are at that level in our French studies. 

 

http://www.petitnicolas.com/



#29 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 03:52 AM

Anyone have a link where I can peek inside one of the books? I want to see how long it will be before we are at that level in our French studies. 

 

http://www.petitnicolas.com/

 

Petit Nicolas is hilarious at all ages- my 6 year old loves it.  However, the reading level is probably pretta advanced.  At my old high school, my old French teacher uses it for her year 4 students.





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