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Bon Voyage: 5 Amazing French Books for Children Who Want to Sail the Seven Seas

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Reading in French is a great way for kids to learn vocabulary and build their grammatical knowledge, and unsurprisingly, this approach works much better if they are reading something fun! All kids love adventures, but nothing quite captures the imagination like a voyage on the open seas. For this list, we have gathered swashbuckling tales and nautical adventures that will capture your child’s imagination and show how exciting reading in French can be.

The reading age guidelines are based on recommendations from their French publishers so depending on your child’s level of French, you may want to choose books aimed at younger children or read aloud with them.

Billy Jumpy, roi des pirates

5 years +

Billy Jumpy is a pirate king. As you might expect, he has a bushy beard, lots of tattoos and his own treasure island. The only person who is not impressed by him is his mother, who thinks he should shower a bit more often… His best friend is the young narrator of the story. Together they share all the adventures of pirate life: battles, mysterious islands and banquets on board pirate ships. Billy protects the little boy, and the little boy cheers Billy up when he’s sad – for even pirate kings have a sensitive side. But who really is Billy Jumpy? A living, breathing hero, or an imaginary friend? It’s up to the reader to decide.

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Les Fabuleux Navires du capitaine Squid

7 years +

Pirates don’t have the monopoly on adventures on the seven seas! In this story, we meet old Captain Squid, a dying sailor who has lived a long and exciting life. As he lies in bed, his crew gather around to hear his stories about the boats he has worked on and their captains: Le Gigantic and her Russian commander, fishing for cod on L’islandais volant, Le Bourdon artois and her pirates, the Big Apple whose captain choked on a fish bone, and even a submarine, La Grande Racasse. Each captain is consumed by the same quest for an elusive and magnificent boat. Though Captain Squid has never laid eyes on this holy grail of boats, he does have a drawing which he leaves to his crew…

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Deux pirates pour un trésor

8 years +

An illustrated collection of piratical adventures that will make kids want to set out for a life of piracy. The eight short stories are filled with adventure and humour. There is everything you’d expect from a collection of buccaneering tales: parrots, eye patches, peg legs, buried treasure and jolly rogers. Suitable for children aged eight years and older, the snappy tales are easy for kids to read by themselves and are also ideal for bedtime reading with Mom or Dad.

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Finn et les pirates

10 years +

Finn is a young orphan travelling the world as a cabin boy on the Cordelia. His life changes forever when the beautiful Anna boards the ship during a call to port in Brazil. Anna turns out to not only be beautiful but also dangerous – her father is an infamous pirate! With her friends Miguel and Sara, she decides to follow in the footsteps of her father and Finn is swept along too. Somewhat reluctantly, the shy cabin boy ends up a pirate himself.

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Les Colombes du Roi-Soleil t.7 ; Un corsaire nommé Henriette

10 years +

Much to her mother’s despair, Henriette de Pusay was always more interested in horse riding by the sea than attending balls or finding a suitable husband. When her family falls into ruin she has a plan to make back their fortune – piracy! There’s one small problem though – she’s a woman. Disguised as a boy, she infiltrates the rough world of piracy and soon builds a successful career as a corsair. Set during the reign of Louis XIV, the vocabulary matches the language of the time and explanatory notes are provided for any challenging terms. This book mixes action, adventure and romance, and is perfect for children looking to challenge themselves or who have an interest in history.

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Irish linguist and writer based in Dublin. Fascinated by all things word-related. Hobbies include consulting etymological dictionaries, attempting to learn increasingly obscure languages and ... Show More

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