Simple French Picture Books for Preschoolers

This month’s children’s book recommendations come from Philippe Sibeaud, Director of Studies at the French Institute in Edinburgh. If you‘d like your child (aged 3+) to learn French with highly qualified native speakers, this is a great place to send them on a Saturday during term time. The stunning central location in Parliament Square, just off the Royal Mile, means you should also be able to do some uninterrupted shopping (!) or perhaps nip to the nearby farmers market! Or else, for a taste of France, there is an authentic bistro in the building itself. In the meantime, we hope you’ll try out these books. Non French speakers — and those with iffy accents like me — will be able to play the stories to their child on Youtube.


Age range: 2-5 years

Les habits de Lulu by Alex Sanders

Lulu is a bit confused. Do socks go on her head? Mais non…! This is an ideal book for teaching the names of clothes and key body parts in French. NB Parents will ideally have a rudimentary knowledge of French as there is a slapstick interactive element! Otherwise you’ll find readings involving other native French children on Youtube.



Arc-en-ciel: Le plus beau poisson des océans by Marcus Pfister

This is similar to Oscar Wilde’s touching tale The Happy Prince. The rainbow fish doesn’t want to share his colourful scales and, as a result, he has no friends. Having consulted a wise old octopus, however, he has a change of heart! A sweet, stunningly illustrated story for slightly more advanced readers! NB Non native speakers may prefer to start with the English translation, ‘The Rainbow Fish.’


P'tit Loup series by Orianne Allemand Illus. Eléonore Thuillier

An effectively illustrated series about a little wolf and his family. Your child will be able to identify with and learn from the eponymous character as he deals with the dark at night, saves the planet, tidies his room, becomes a big brother, learns to dress himself, dresses up, goes on holiday etc.


Camille series by Jacques Duquennoy

Once again, there are lots of toddler-friendly themes in this series about an endearing giraffe. Your child will learn to respond to a number of ‘exciting’ real-life situations. What do you do when your car breaks down?! Or when you find yourself in the jungle? The author-illustrator was once a teacher and it shows!


Les imagiers Series by Nathalie Choux

‘Imagier’ means ‘picture book’ in French. This series is fantastic for exploring vehicles, opposites, food, the seasons, the human body and so much more. If you watch the stories on Youtube, you’ll be able to join in the learning with your child. The books themselves feature sliders, simple but clearly labelled diagrams and plenty of questions. So you child (and you) will enjoy copying and responding to the characters.

To find out more about children’s French classes at the French Institute click here.