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Discovering Latin America with French Children’s Literature

It’s widely known that learning a second language is a great asset to children. If you’re thinking of encouraging your children to read in French, or if they already are, another advantage to consider is that it can also be a great way to introduce them to the different cultures of the world. You can help them broaden their horizons and indulge their sense of adventure at the same time as they’re improving their French reading skills.

From the Andes to Mexico and Brazil, this reading list will take you and your family through a French-speaking tour of Latin America and the many treasures it has to offer.

Whether you want your family to learn about new lands or to connect with their own culture, we have some delightful reads lined up for you.

De la glace aux pommes de terre ?

Our first book will take you through a picturesque voyage in the Andean plateau. This is the story of Lucho, a young boy living in the height of the Andes where there is no gas, no electricity, and where the vegetation is sparse. There, people use dried alpaca droppings to light fires on which they cook potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One day Lucho helps to rescue Pocoyo, a baby Alpaca in distress, and as a reward he gets a delicious treat, potato ice cream!

Follow Lucho in this charming story filled with soft watercolour illustrations and discover the people of the Andean plateau with your children.

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Le Singe et l'épi d'or - Un conte et un dossier pour découvrir le Mexique

In this book, a clever monkey discovers a golden ear of corn, but when he tries to hide his treasure it is stolen by a palm tree who wants to make it into a crown. The monkey goes on a quest to get his prized possession back and tries to convince everyone from the the fire to the river and the jaguar to help him. The story is followed by a booklet depicting the daily life and traditions of Mexicans.

An exciting tale that depicts how corn became Mexico’s most precious treasure. 

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La Musique sud-américaine - Cayetano et la Baleine

This delightful book and CD combination follows little Cayetano’s journey through the Andes.

Cayetano wants to see the world, he lives in a small village on the top of a mountain and dreams of what life is like below. One day, an old man comes to him and gives him a mission. He must meet his friend the whale on the other side of the continent.

In this adventure Cayetano’s dreams finally come true and he can proudly come home to his mother to tell her that he is not just a dreamer.

The illustrations are full of bright colours, the soundtrack is spellbinding and filled with interesting instruments like the ocarina, the charango, and pinkullyu. The text is simple, but elegant and has everything you need to give younger readers a little wanderlust.

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Le Rêve de Mia

Mia lives in a small run down village in a little corner of the Chilean Andes with her little white dog Poco.

She doesn’t live an easy life, the houses of her village are made of whatever materials the villagers could find, the land used to be farmed but now is in ruins, and her father travels everyday to sell scraps of metal but sadly often comes home empty handed. Although the setting may at first seem bleak, the joy from Mia’s daily life in school and at home brings real warmth to the book.

One day Poco gets lost in the mountains and Mia goes to his rescue. On her way she happens upon a field of the most beautiful white flowers. She picks some with the roots and replants them at home, where she tends them lovingly.

The story tells the spread of the flowers as the wind carries the seeds across the village and Mia’s entrepreneurship in selling her flowers with her Father. As the flower trade takes over from the metal trade a new life begins for Mia and her family.

A book full of emotion that portrays the life of a people drawn from the author’s meeting of a Chilean family.

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La Mamani

Mamani is a lovely white witch from Bolivia who always comes to the help of those who need it. One night, little Anita comes to her door, her sister Nina has fallen ill from a strange sickness. The evil sorcerer Salamanca has stolen her doll and her dreams.

Mamani is very afraid of Salamanca, but knows that she must listen to her heart and help these little girls as she is their only hope. Together Anita and Mamani will try to defeat the sorcerer of the island of dolls to save Nina.

A delight to read, this magical book will make both the young and the old dream of faraway lands.

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Mes images du brésil

Meet Julia, she is from Salvador in Bahia where the culture is a mixture of native Brazilian, African and European.

Julia will introduce you to her family, her house, her school, and her town. With her you will celebrate Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Carnival under the summer sun.

Cytryn’s beautiful paintings gives a vibrant and colourful image of life in Brazil. A sweet book depicting the day to day of a middle class Brazilian girl that aptly represents the different ethnicities present in the country.

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Do you have another favourite French book on Latin America that you’d like to recommend? If you do leave us a comment below! Happy Exploring!

Writer and Translator from France living in Dublin. Dedicated foodie and Brunch queen obsessed with photographing her food.

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