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Dans la nature: Four French Books for Kids

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Much like reading a book, learning another language opens up new worlds and perspectives. Raising children to speak multiple languages gives them an insight into different cultures and ways of thinking and multilingualism has even been linked to higher levels of empathy. The books on this list also deal with the theme of exploring new environments. The idea of journeying into the wilderness to discover yourself is an ancient one and we hope that the message of these books will resonate with your child as they continue their own journey to learn French and understand different cultures.

The reading age guidelines are based on recommendations from the books’ French publishers, but depending on your child’s level of French you may want to choose books aimed at younger children. Most of the books are aimed at a 4th grade level but some are a little more challenging and would suit 5th grade children or older.

Dans la forêt sombre et mystérieuse

9+ years

Angelo is a quiet boy with a keen interest in nature and science, is a bit overlooked between his teenage brother and baby sister. When his kindly grandmother falls ill, Angelo and his family set off on a road trip to visit her. However, at a highway rest area his parents forget all about Angelo and drive off without him! Left on his own, he heads into the nearby forest and is soon completely lost. He’s not alone though! Angelo enters into the hidden world of the forest and meets the fantastical creates that live there. This comic won the 2016 Pépite d’or prize for children’s literature from the Pépites du Salon de Montreuil. 

La Forêt des totems

10+ years

Max is sent to the Amazon jungle to join his mother who he barely knows, an anthropologist searching for a remote tribe who have never had contact with the outside world. A nervous boy, Max would much rather be at home instead of camping in the snake and mosquito infested jungle. He is soon kidnapped by the mysterious tribe and learns that they don’t really want to be the subject of an anthropological study… Our reluctant hero is wrapped up in a wild adventure and the book gently lampoons the idea of bringing “civilisation” to traditional peoples. 

La Grande Rivière

10+ years

Grenouille was born with webbed hands and for her entire life has been shunned by her mountain tribe. Only her loving grandfather accepts and loves her for who she is. When he dies, Grenouille runs away, following the great river as it flows downstream in the hope that she will find the fabled land where everyone is accepted. On her way she meets Arbas, a boy who has also been cast out from his own tribe. Together they journey on along the river, overcoming challenges, meeting other tribes and facing danger on the way. A thought-provoking book that deals masterfully with the themes of tolerance and difference.

Au bout des longues neiges

11+ years

In 1846 young Finnian O’Connell’s family spend every last penny to flee the worsening famine in Ireland and emigrate to Canada. After a perilous voyage on an overcrowded ship and quarantine upon arrival, the family can finally set out to the plot of land assigned to them in Quebec – and the real adventure starts. The O’Connells must build their lives from scratch in their beautiful but wild new home. They must adapt to their new land, prepare for the harsh winter and learn to understand the Native American tribes whose lands are being steadily encroached upon by colonists. Through Finnian’s eyes we discover the savage beauty of his new country. The book deals masterfully with themes of immigration, colonisation and Canadian identity, and at its core is the message that people can learn to work together.


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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