Learning a new language is easier when it is fun so finding great material for lessons is important to keep learners engaged. Simple tales are a wonderful way to practice reading and comprehension.
To that end we have found 11 amazing short French stories your students will love and which will help you keep them interested.
The Fables Of Jean De La Fontaine
In the late 1600s Jean de la Fontaine, wrote 243 fables in French most of which were originals and different in style and substance from the original Aesop’s tales.
Aesop’s fables are a large collection of short stories which mostly feature animals and were written in early Roman times by Aesop, who was a slave and a storyteller. All are used almost as parables, to convey a tale of morality.
For example, The Shepherd Boy And The Wolf, more commonly known as the boy who cried wolf, is the story of the importance of telling the truth.
Reading these fables in French will give your students two lessons in one. They can practice their French while considering the moral of the story.
Tyranno Le Terrible
Tyranno is a big dinosaur with rather a bad attitude. Because of his size and sharp teeth he’s started to believe that this makes him better than everyone else, and he begins to behave like a bully.
Meanwhile, Igor is small but very kind, doing everything he can to change Tyranno’s behavior. This is a wonderful story for teaching children about the dangers of bullying while also introducing reflexive verbs and the simple past in French.
Both of these tenses are used a lot when speaking about how you feel, so this is the perfect way to learn them. As the book is aimed at children it uses the ‘tu’ form for ‘you’ rather than the more formal or plural ‘vous’.
Restons Bon Copains!
Most children with siblings will relate to this story of a brother and sister at odds with one another. The little girl releases her brother’s pet turtle into the ocean, and he is naturally very angry and upset.
After some time they put their differences aside and move on to their next adventure. The story is written by the same author as Tyranno Le Terrible and is similarly helpful in its use of reflexive verbs.
The story is written in the first person from the boy’s perspective, so it is good for learning verb endings in the first-person pronoun. Children will get a lot of practice with the reflexive verbs which are used to talk about feelings, particularly in this book about anger.
Le Premier Noël De Bonbon
This story is a wonderful introduction to Christmas in France as seen through the eyes of a young dog, Bonbon. It’s his first Christmas and a rather smug cat has told him that he needs to ask for a present before midnight.
So Bonbon makes his way through the household items that he loves to play with, trying to decide which should be his present. This introduces children to many of the everyday objects and elements found within the home.
The narrative pattern makes it easy for children to understand and to follow even if they come across vocabulary they are not familiar with.
Kids will learn French words used in association with Christmas as well as for familiar household items.
Au Secours, Waldo!
This is the story of three rude young rabbits who make fun of an elderly grandfather figure. They then skate off across a frozen lake but as they do, they fall through a crack in the ice and only Grandfather Lampe is around to help them.
For reading practice this story will help young children learn about the third person. This can be tricky as third-person plural endings are written differently to how they are pronounced.
For ‘elles’ and ‘ils’ the verb ends with ‘-ent’, but this isn’t pronounced when spoken.
It can be an easy rule to forget in French, but this story provides children with lots of practice to get it right. Having children read pages out loud will help them to become more confident with this rule.
Les Meilleurs Amis Du Monde
A story of two ducks, one wild and one domesticated Les Meilleurs Amis Du Monde is a heartwarming story. Nestor and Victor are best friends but when winter comes around Victor has to fly south leaving Nestor at the farm.
The simple content makes this book perfect for students to learn lots of vocabulary. The story is written in the simple past, but the dialogue is written in the future and present tenses.
This makes excellent practice in all of these tenses.
Jumping from one tense to the other will give children confidence in recognition and pronunciation. There are no really complex tenses used in the story so in general it is a simple text to follow and learn from.
For students who are a little more advanced in their reading comprehension of French the story of Madeline is an absolute must.
Set in a Catholic school in Paris and focusing on Madeline, the smallest of the girls, it also reveals her to be the most accident prone.
Whether in the schoolrooms or wandering through the city she constantly finds herself in trouble. Or causing it. But she is a brave girl, so it’s a great tale for children who like adventure.
One of the endearing things about Madeline is that it is written in rhyme. This makes it a bit more appealing despite it being a slightly longer story.
However, the rhyming does mean some of the word order has been shifted around.
Histoire De Babar
The story of Babar was originally written in French and then translated into other languages for a wider market.
It follows the young elephant from the jungle where he has escaped from a hunter. He goes to a nearby city and learns about civilization.
Some time later he goes back to the jungle and teaches the wild animals all that he has learned in the city. For all this knowledge they appoint him king.
The tales of Babar are filled with moral lessons for children to learn while they simultaneously learn French.
There are many diverse language points for students to learn. If they seem a little too varied for one reading session they can be broken up into different sections.
A tale of friendship that has been ruined by lies, this is the story of Monty, the raccoon and Francois, the rabbit.
Monty is caught in a lie by his friend and this threatens their relationship, so he has to fix the situation. He wants his friend to be able to trust him again.
The range of emotions that the characters go through gives the reader exposure to lots of vocabulary for different moods and states of mind.
This is great practice for students with words they may not otherwise come across.
At the end of the story the main characters imagine what lying monsters might look like which gives great descriptive phrases and adjectives.
Poisson Un, Poisson Deux, Poisson Rouge, Poisson Bleu
Although this book by Dr Seuss was originally written and released in English it is a very popular book in France for young children.
The French do enjoy ridiculous humor, so this is right up their street. It is a hilarious read and very easy to follow.
The book actually contains several Dr Seuss stories and characters including the seven-hump wump and little Ned and his bed. It can be used alongside the English translation for practice of French comprehension and reading.
The trademark rhyming of Dr Seuss works really well with the French language despite having to be slightly altered to accommodate a foreign language.
A fun and useful book for young students of French who appreciate the silliness and the rhyming of the text.
Les Deux Gredins
Another author who embraced the ridiculous in his writing was Roald Dahl and this is the French translation of his well known story, The Twits.
The story follows these despicable characters through a number of different tales which end with them finally getting their just deserts.
The story is not for complete beginners but rather for students who are regular readers of French. Despite this, it is not complex but is packed with unusual phrases and interesting adjectives they may not otherwise encounter.
It is a fun way for students to practice their reading skills and learn some great new vocabulary which is used to describe the awful characters.
These short stories in French are an invaluable asset when helping students with their reading and comprehension. They are also useful for adults who are just starting out in learning the language.
We hope that you have enjoyed our guide to 11 amazing short French stories and that it has been helpful to you and to your students.
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