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Fables and Fairytales in French for Families

Reading aloud to your kids in French can help them internalize the sounds and structure of the language, as well as showing them that reading books, in any language, is important. And, of course, there’s no better family time than story time.

Eventually, your kids will take pride in knowing so much French that they can be the ones to read aloud... or to grab a book and scurry off to their favorite reading spot all by themselves.

To help you build your family's French library, we’ve rounded up some beloved stories in French. Some of these will be familiar, coming from Aesop, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen. Others might be new to you, like traditional African or Mexican tales, or stories from literary giants James Joyce and Eugène Ionesco.

The age guidance given here is based on the publishers’ recommendations for French children. You might find that your own children enjoy the added challenge of reading in French, even if the book’s intended age range is a little bit below their usual level.

As always, the books below are available on our website, with free shipping worldwide.

Anansi

3-7 years

Anansi the spider is a traditional character in the tales of the Ashanti people of Ghana. He’s a trickster who’s skilled in stories and speech. In this Anansi story, we learn how stories came to earth from above in the first place. This version includes an illustrated supplement about the rich tradition of African storytelling.

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Le Rat bleu

3-7 years

Miroton the rat has a coat of nice grey fur, but he longs to be blue instead. In this contemporary tale that reads like a classic, Miroton’s quest brings him into contact with all kinds of mysterious characters, including magicians, strange birds, a cruel cat, and a very stupid witch. 

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Le Petit Chaperon rouge

3 years+

This edition of the old European folk tale has laser cut-outs within its rich illustrations, so that children can lift flaps and peek through holes as Little Red Riding Hood follows the path to Grandmother’s house.

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Contes 1, 2, 3, 4

4-8 years

Little Josette and her papa love to tell each other far-fetched stories, where all the characters have the same name, for example, or where all the words change their meaning. When the phone is called cheese and feet have ears, you know words are made for fun. These tales by Ionesco are a treat to read aloud. 

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Les Fables d'Ésope

5-10 years

Here are Aesop’s famous fables, including the tortoise and the hare, and the goose that laid the golden egg. The familiar tales are translated from a retelling by acclaimed children’s novelist Michael Morpurgo (War Horse) and illustrated by the wonderful Emma Chichester Clark (Blue Kangaroo).

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Le Chat botté

6-8 years

What good is inheriting a cat, when you’re penniless? When it turns out that the cat’s a great talker, things start looking up. This telling of the Brothers Grimm “Puss in Boots” story is accompanied by Agnese Baruzzi’s intricate and dreamlike cut-paper illustrations. 

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Histoires comme ça

9+ years

In his playful little stories to read before falling asleep, Rudyard Kipling tells how the whale was seized with hiccups, why the butterfly kicked, how the camel caught its hump, the leopard its spots, the elephant its trick, and why Kangaroo ended up in Australia. 

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Does your family have its own favorite stories en français? Please add your suggestions in the comments below. Thanks.


Image: taken from one of Étienne Delessert's illustrations for Contes 1, 2, 3, 4 by Ionesco.

Posts on this profile were created by members of the Bookwitty team. Here, we discuss books, authors, publishers and other literary-related topics. You’ll find our writers based between our ... Show More

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