It’s commonly acknowledged that reading to your baby is beneficial. Reading to your child is a great way to encourage language development and literacy for all ages, even for infants. In fact, between birth and three years old is a particularly important time in relation to later literacy. Reading books is a proven way to foster language acquisition. Studies have shown specifically that reading assists with vocabulary, comprehension, and cognitive development.
In addition to these brain boosting benefits, reading books together is also a great opportunity to spend quality time and increase the bond with your child. In a review by the World Health Organization, studies have indicated that reading to your baby encourages reciprocal interactions and enhances the quality of the parent-infant relationship.
I absolutely adore the books from French publishers L’école des loisirs. The books in their collection Loulou & cie are specifically chosen for ages 0-5 years old. Their website is very comprehensive - although you can’t purchase them there, you can browse the catalogue. Books are classed by recommended age range with a short description and tagged with themes. This is really useful to search for a particular subject when you’re focusing on a particular theme. Some of them even have a bonus, such as supplementary learning suggestions, printable activities or videos. This is a great way to extend the learning opportunity. You'll also find some ideas for exploring books right here on our blog in our series Exploitation de l'album.
Reading stories that they are already familiar with in their mother tongue is another great way to start to introduce your child to French. Some well-loved books available in French that your child may already know are Where’s Spot, Dear Zoo, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, Handa’s Surprise and the popular tactile book series, “That’s not my…” from Usborne.
Alternatively, you might like to try dual language story books with text in both English and French. I Can Read French is a collection of books aimed at young learners. At the back of each book, there is a pronunciation guide, a picture dictionary with key words and notes for parents.
Lucie Chat is another series of French/English stories for early learners each featuring the title character Lucy the Cat, presented in comic book style. Again, you will find a key word picture dictionary at the back of the book with a pronunciation guide.
If you are feeling less confident with your own French language skills, you could also consider audio stories. You will find this helpful for yourself to assist with correct pronunciation if you’re learning along with your child! Once you become more familiar with the story and the vocabulary, you might like to transition to reading it to your child. Studies have shown that in infants under 12 months old, real-life interactions are more valuable learning experiences than recordings, so if you have a very little one I would encourage you to get involved and use the recorded materials alongside what you do together, rather than as a substitute for language interactions between you and your baby.
The Easy French series features classics such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood in French and English accompanied by an audio CD with the story read in both languages. Alternatively, check out The French Experiment online where you will find some traditional tales narrated by a native French speaker. There is a transcript in French which can be translated into English with the click of a button. You might listen to the story in French first, then read it to your child again in English or vice versa.
What's your child's favourite French storybook? Comment below and let us know!