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Explorers! Five French Books for Kids

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Learning another language can be a gateway to new worlds and fresh horizons. Any budding explorer knows that speaking some of the local language is essential for any expedition. Teaching your children French opens up the French-speaking world for them to explore – but if a grand adventure is not possible, they can still discover far away places with these French-language books about explorers.

We have selected a range of books for children from 7- to 11-years and older. 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. 

L'Incroyable Voyage de Christophe Colomb

9+ years

The incredible journey of one of the most famous explorers in history is told from the perspective of a young sailor on the Santa María. Alonzo joins Christopher Columbus’ expedition to India in 1492. After months of sailing on wild seas with no sign of dry land, hopes begin to run low among the crew. Columbus’ three boats eventually reach land – but it’s not India! The colourful illustrations and rich descriptions bring the expedition to the New World to life.

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Moi, Christian Clot, explorateur

10+ years

Not all explorers are confined to the history books! Modern day explorer, Christian Clot tells the story of his unusual career. He started off exploring his garden as a child in Switzerland but by the age of 15 was setting out for some of the most extreme and remote environments on earth. Clot describes his many adventures with passion and enthusiasm; from his first experience of travel to his major solo and team expeditions. Clot’s passion for exploration and discovery is clear, but so too is his humility and respect for the environments he explores; the book reflects on the role of the explorer and ethical questions. Detailed illustrations based on the author’s own personal archives enrich this engaging account of an unbelievable life. 

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Des fourmis dans les jambes - Petite biographie de Nicolas Bouvier

7+ years

This charming illustrated book tells the story of Nicolas Bouvier, a Swiss adventurer and writer. From the ages of 23 to 27, he travelled with his friend Thierry Vernet from Belgrade to Kabul, via Yugoslavia, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. Bouvier went on to recount his voyage of self-discovery in L'Usage du monde, published in English translation as The Way of the World. This sympathetic biography charts the ups and downs, both spiritual and material, of a journey that was way ahead of its time. At the end of the 1950s, international tourism was in its infancy and setting out in a small Fiat Topolino to transverse international frontiers was an even more extraordinary feat than it is today. An unmissable book about Europe’s answer to Jack Kerouac.

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Comment nous sommes allés sur la lune

7+ years

This book tells the story of the 1969 Apollo 11 lunar mission from the point of view of Neil Armstrong. Step by step, each stage of his mission with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins is described in a clear and informative way that is easy for children to understand; take-off, separation of the booster rockets, lunar descent, all the way up to the first moonwalk. Simple illustrations add to the informative tone. Packed with details and scientific facts, this book is ideal for all aspiring astronauts. 

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Vers les mers glacées du pôle Nord

11+ years

In 1908, African American Matthew Henson sets out for the North Pole for the third time with Commander Robert Peary. Accompanied by Inuits and sleigh dogs, they make slow progress across unstable ice floes. Keeping them going is the goal of planting an American flag at the Pole. Having achieved this incredible feat, Henson and Peary return to the United States where Peary is lauded as a hero while Henson is overlooked. This well-known expedition is recounted from the point of view of an intelligent and courageous hero erased by history because of his race. This book, in the form of a diary, gives voice to Henson and contains detailed descriptions of the Arctic environment. 

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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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