Reading books of any kind - paperback, hardcover, and, yes, even e-books - can grow literacy skills, language proficiencies, and cultural awareness. Last week, I was fascinated by the New York Times'article, which extols the benefits of reading "real" (read: physical) books to children.

If print books are back and more popular than ever, what benefits can come from using an e-library with your children?

While downloading an e-book can never truly replace the experience of visiting our library in person, I think that there are many advantages to having instant and unlimited access to high-quality, French language materials online, especially in the United States. Listening to classic songs or stories sung and read by native speakers can improve listening comprehension, while reading and "flipping" through digital picture books can encourage readers to interact with written text and illustrations in a different way.

Our e-library, Culturethèque, is a wonderful example of a digital resource for parents and children alike, with reading material for learning French...and for having fun! This post will highlight some of my favorite series, magazines, and multimedia resources for the youngest francophiles that can be enjoyed independently or as part of a story time en famille.

Unless otherwise noted, all materials are available in streaming and, as such, require an internet connection. If you're interested in skipping right to the site, try starting with the Youth tab, which features the latest arrivals for kids and teens as well as selections broken down by age group.

Picture books

Tip: Books are linked below - click, login to your account, and enjoy!

Tchou, tchouuuu by Guillaume Bracquemond
Themes: trains, adventure, silliness
Si le caïman by Véronique Vernette
Themes: jungle animals, rhyming
Une touche de... by Laurie Cohen and Marjorie Béal
Themes: mixing colors - perfect for little artists!

Pour toi by Christos and Sandrine Gambart
Themes: parent-child relationships, bears

We also have a large selection of Mimi Cracra stories - perfect for a child's "firsts". Search Mimi Cracra to find all available titles.

Bandes dessinées

Tip: Graphic novels can be great to read as a family - try acting out some of the scenes together!

P'tit Boule et Bill by Laurence Gillot and Jose Luis Munuera
An all-time favorite series adapted for younger readers, P'tit Boule et Bill can be your child's first introduction to the world of graphic novels. When reading together, try to discuss the ways in which a BD is different from a picture book by asking questions about the page layout, speech bubbles, and illustration style.
Ariol by Marc Boutavant and Emmanuel Guibert
Ariol is a popular comic series about a blue donkey and his animal friends. This first book in the series has 12 adventures that you will want to read over and over again. I would recommend this series for any strong readers 6 years and older.
Anatole Latuile by Clément Devaux, Olivier Muller, and Anne Didier
As with Ariol, fans of the magazine J'aime lire may recognize one of their favorite heros in this comic! Anatole Latuile's wonky schooltime adventures are the star in the second book of this popular series. Perfect for back to school - and for calming any pre-rentrée jitters.

Magazines for beginning readers

Tip: Search by title to find the most recent issues on Culturethèque!

Why not try Papoum as your baby's first magazine? The colorful illustations and helpful "Papoum for parents" section makes the magazine approachable for babies and parents alike.
Abricot is a magazine made for family story times - I love the regular histoire à deux voix that replaces portions of the text with recognizable pictures, encouraging interaction and creativity!
Je lis déjà is a monthly magazine that encourages independent reading for beginning readers.

Music and audiobooks

Stream interactive picture books with audio and CDs with classic songs and comptines:

Le peuple des sardines by Delphine Pérret
Tip: turn on the sound - this picture book is read aloud!
Mes comptines à mimer by Marie Martinelli and Julien Climent
This CD can be used for simple finger play and dance activities. Start with "Savez-vous planter les choux" to work on body vocabulary.
Les contes d'été de Pomme d'Api by Charlie, Isabelle Rouzier, Gérard Rouzier, Christophe Chauvet
A collection of short, summertime stories read aloud in French.

I hope that this selection will inspire you to introduce digital resources into your daily reading routines - both at home and at our library.

Christianne Beasley

Head Librarian

A native Mainer, Christianne has worked in libraries all her life and came to the Center after three years of managing the library at the Alliance Française in Washington DC. She has a B.A. in French Studies from Smith College, a MLIS from Simmons College, and loves children's literature, BDs, and cookbooks. When she is not at the library, you can find her traveling, baking, and - quelle surprise! - reading new books.

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