French the natural way: 4 steps to read French books

Coucou les French learners,

The other day, I was listening to the French radio and I learned that the word livre, book comes from the Latin word liber which means free

When you read a book, you learn something new, you gain knowledge, you free yourself, you gain freedom.

This week, I also stumbled upon an another excellent quote from Stephen Krashen: “Reading for pleasure is the source of most of our literature competence.

Each of our readings leaves a seed that sprouts, Jules Renard, French author.

The month of June is coming to an end and I hope you have enjoyed following my daily readings on Instagram.

Pour la dernière newsletter de juin, for the last June newsletter, I want to share 4 simple steps to read French books and become an autonomous French reader.

Trust the process.


Step One: Easy readers

Start with easy readers for beginners with the minimum unique word count. High frequency factor (the number of times core structures are embedded in the text) is also key. When you start reading easy books, you gain confidence and you do also acquire the language.

Easy readers motivate you to keep up reading French books. Each page is loaded with cognates (words that are similar in English and French), recycled vocabulary, and illustrations, which makes the books highly comprehensible. You enjoy the story. The more you enjoy it, the more you will acquire French without even realizing it!

My last video is book review which is part of my new playlist on YouTube Critique de livres, book reviews. The book I am reviewing is an easy reader with 95 unique word count. The story is simple and engaging. Although it is written for elementary students, many of my online adult learners found it funny and engaging.

Step Two: Children’s books

Read as many easy readers as you can to build up your confidence and broaden your vocabulary. Here is another example of an excellent intermediate easy reader Le vol des oiseaux by Kristy Placido. The story takes place in Cameroon, a francophone African country.

Once you have read many easy readers from beginner to upper intermediate levels, you can start reading authentic French books aimed at 6 to 12 years old.

Les aventures du Petit Nicolas depict an idealized version of childhood in 1950s France. The books are told from the point of view of Nicolas himself, which gives the book a distinct and personal sense of humor.

Step Three: adapted literature

You are now ready to read French literature but in a simplified version. CLE International offers a collection of adaptations of literature books.  For example, Le Comte de Monte-Cristo by famous French author Alexandre Dumas is full of adventures and romance.

Step Four: French novels

You are now an autonomous reader! You can read any French authentic books. You can now try the real version of Le Comte de Monte-Cristo.  Biographies are also a good choice like the life of famous French actor, Louis de Funès told by his two sons.

Just yesterday with one of my Verbling learners, we had great fun reading Ni d’Eve, ni d’Adam by Belgian author Amélie Nothomb (I love boosting my learners to read in French!).fre

Of course these are suggestions and you might jump a step or follow other steps. I really like the five finger rules by Martina Bex:

I love hearing from you so let me know in the comments the French books you have enjoyed reading.

Happy French acquisition!

P.S. Got friends, family, colleagues or clients who want to become fluent in French? Share this with them, they’ll thank you for it 🙂

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