English children learning French at school are often encouraged to read French books.
Reading can enhance a child’s knowledge of a foreign language and increase his or her confidence. However finding the right French book for an older child can be challenging. Books with very easy vocabulary are too childish and books with more grown-up themes are too difficult. For the 9 + year old, the ideal solution is comic books or BD (pronounced bay-day for bandes dessinées) as they are known in French.
There are two characters in particular that I would recommend for the 9+ age group. Most French households have at least one of these comics books on their bookshelf: Ariol and Tintin.
The French take their comic books very seriously
Many French comic books involve ‘everyday’ heroes such as Ariol. Ariol is an ordinary blue donkey. He lives in the suburbs. His best friend is a pig. His teacher is a dog and he is in love with a cow in his class. Ariol appeals to young and old alike. The sentences are short and the story is easy to follow. The vocabulary may not be easy for an nine year-old who has not yet much grasp of the French language but an older child who has been learning for a couple of years should be able to follow. The advantage of reading comics is that the pictures tell the story. Encourage your child to use his imagination by talking about what is happening. It is not necessary to understand every word.
Bayard press edits the Ariol series. This French book is written by Emmanuel Guibert and illustrated by Marc Boutavant. The official website in French is very easy to navigate and some of the stories are available online for free. Ariol can also be found in English and is very popular in America.
Tintin is another French book that I would highly recommend
For the 9+ child who is learning French, a Tintin album is one of the best “BD” you can find. Many people argue that it is the best graphic novel ever drawn. Undoutably Tintin has universal appeal; he and his little white dog Snowy (Milou in French) are immediately recognizable. Note: the writer-artist Herge was not actually French. He came from Belgium. The vocabulary is quite sophisticated but the illustrations are very popular with children of all ages.
Create your own comic book
Another way to learn French vocabulary is to create your own French comic book. The English book “Adventures in Cartooning” is a comic that tells the story of an elf who teaches a child how to draw cartoons. It explains the basics of layout, dialogue and doodling and is fun and easy to read for the 9+ age group. It might be the inspiration your child is looking for to write his or her own comic adventure in French.
Finding the right French books for the older child studying French as a foreign language, can be challenging. Reading a French comic book is a happy compromise and will enable your child to increase his or her vocabulary without it feeling like a tedious exercise.
Have you read any French books lately that you would recommend for the 9+ age-group?
Originally posted 2015-03-17 07:00:21.