If You’re Learning French, Read These 3 Books

When my daughter’s French teacher recently asked for donations of new or gently used French-language books to add to her classroom’s library, these three books immediately came to mind:

  • Ourika by Claire de Duras
  • Mes parents by Hervé Guibert
  • Paroles by Jacques Prévert
book cover photos from Amazon

I had to read these books for my French classes and I recommend them to anyone who’s learning French.

Ourika by Claire de Duras

Published in 1823, this novella tells the story of a young woman from Senegal named Ourika. When she was a young girl, she was sent to live with a Parisian family, with whom she felt normal. All’s well until she overhears a snide remark that makes Ourika feel like an outsider. This novella explores her feelings as she tries to make sense of her racial identity.

Mes parents by Hervé Guibert

In this 1986 part-autobiographic novel, the author talks about his unconventional childhood and tumultuous relationship with his parents and other non-conforming relatives.

Paroles by Jacques Prévert

This one is a book of poems, containing Page d’écriture, which I had to memorize and recite in class. It starts like a counting song with a nursery rhyme melody.

Deux et deux quatre

Quatre et quatre huit

Huit et huit font seize…

Répétez ! dit le maître

Deux et deux quatre

Quatre et quatre huit

Huit et huit font seize…

Mais voilà l’oiseau-lyre

qui passe dans le ciel

l’enfant le voit

l’enfant l’entend

l’enfant l’appelle :


joue avec moi

oiseau ! …


2 and 2 make 4

4 and 4 make 8

8 and 8 make 16…

Repeat ! Says the teacher

2 and 2 make 4

4 and 4 make 8

8 and 8 make 16

But look at the lyrebird

passing in the sky

The child sees it

The child hears it

The child calls to it :

Save me

Play with me

bird ! …

For me, reading these books made learning fun and my comprehension of written French improved considerably. These books are also relatively short reads, which I’ll admit is part of the appeal!

What are your favorite French books? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. Excellent to have found some book recommendations! I will definitely be checking these out. I’ve been learning French the (very) hard way – having been thrown in the deep end after meeting a handsome Parisian through work abroad and currently living here in the capital! It’s all worth it though – the language is so beautiful. I’ll be following you from now on 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,
      Thanks for your comments – they brighten my day. How wonderful you’re in the best classroom to learn such a beautiful language: the City of Light! Thanks for the follow, too. I’ll follow you back.

      Liked by 1 person

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