To learn English, a book is a great tool that can be used at any age, anytime, anywhere for 5 minutes to an hour. A language is a sequence of sounds that a child hears and then imitates. They grasp the meaning, then make use of the words later on. It is with this concept that books, especially those for younger children, convey a form of musicality and poetry in their stories are valuable vectors of learning. In a book, the emphasis is on rhythm, sometimes rhyme, and often the fluidity of sentences and the simplicity of their words. Isn’t there at least one book from your childhood that you could recite by heart?
Books have this ability to be able to register with us thanks to their texts, especially with younger children thanks to their images, graphics, and colors. The famous children’s book that has passed through generations and received several awards, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, is a great tool. It captures the attention of littles ones, in particular thanks to its graphics and colors. Attracting the eye, capturing the attention, telling a story, or emitting pleasant music to the ear are all the vocations of a book that a child needs in order to learn a new language.
If you are about to build a new bilingual library for your child, this article will help you make a selection of books in a specialized store such as FNAC or Amazon. Where, or rather how, to start? Which theme(s) and for which level? If I don’t speak English, how do I read to my child?
Above all, don’t panic. In this Top 10 Books to Teach English to Children, we give you all our references by age group so that you can generously restock the shelves of your child’s room to make learning a pleasant experience and share moments of reading with the whole family.
For Children ages 0 to 4 years old.
If your accent is impeccable, we advise you to read to your child. If you are not comfortable with the language of Shakespeare, the book-CD solution is ideal! Your child will have the book in hand, discover new images, and perhaps will be able to start to decipher words while listening to the story to acquire a perfect accent. For little ones and parents who are not fluent in English, there are also many picture books and beautiful pop-up books that are perfect to spark their enthusiasm. If you’re looking for an all-English or bilingual audiobook, you can start by visiting the Storyplayr site, which has a collection of digital audiobooks for all ages categorized by subject.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See ?
In children’s literature, the book by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr. is a classic. Published in 1967, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? tells the world seen by a brown bear. This picture book is recommended for young children who wish to learn the colors or names of animals, as well as a few simple sentences. And the book is also available with a CD!
By Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr, at Henry Holt & co.
Perfect for exercising fine motor skills, challenging the mind through manipulation and encouraging memorization, Gruffalo, Where Are You? is another classic of the genre perfect for little fans of the iconic character created by Julia Donaldson. These adventures have already sold tens of millions of copies around the world.
By Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, at Pan Macmillan.
Will You Be My Friend ?
Green Mouse is sad, she has no friends. So one day, she packs her bundle and goes to meet others. In this bilingual book (the French version is given to you at the end of the book), the sentences are short and well paced. Children become familiar with the sounds and learn to grasp the general meaning: a perfect book to introduce children to English.
By Eric Battut, at Didier Jeunesse.
This is the famous game where the goal is to make the child active, to ask them questions which will determine by their knowledge if it is a car, a dog, a unicorn, etc. A collection of sensory books to develop tactile sense and language skills.
By Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells, at Usborne
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
The television and film adaptations of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, translated into French by Pierre Lapin, continuously have huge success in France. Its original version could fascinate more than one child! Beatrix Potter’s famous tale, which has enjoyed constant success for more than one hundred years, is a true classic.
By Beatrix Potter, at Frederick Warne & Co.
For Children ages 5 to 7 years old.
From the age of 5, your child begins to isolate syllables, decipher words, and begin to read. As soon as they learn to read, suggesting that your child also read in English will allow them to become familiar with the language naturally at a very young age. The vast majority of neurolinguistic studies have also shown that learning to read in two languages simultaneously is not only possible, but even has advantages for children.
Bayard jeunesse has developed two collections of magazines available by subscription entirely in English. AdventureBox, for 6 to 9 year olds, is a magazine to stock up on novels and comics in English. There is also DiscoveryBox, for 9 to 13 year olds, that allows children to discover and understand the world in English.
For young scientists that dream of becoming inventors or those most sensitive to ecological issues, See inside Science is a fantastic book to understand how our world works. The book also contains links allowing children to access video clips, games, and activities.
By Alex Frith and Colin King, at Usborn
Where the Wild Things Are
Another classic of the genre. In France, the title has been translated as Max et les Maximonstres. Of course, it’s a must! Where the Wild Things Are is the story of Max who, while punished in his room, will live imaginary adventures in his wolf costume at the head of an army of filthy beasts, the Maximonstres. This story has been adapted into cartoons, cinema, and even opera. Its author and illustrator, Maurice Sendak, has received several awards thanks to this illustrated album which is not available in all formats.
By Maurice Sendak, at Harper & Row.
Based on the Jules Verne story that needs no introduction, this novel adapted to children’s literature could well take your child on a crazy adventure, just at your fingertips !
By Jane Bingham et Adam Stower, chez Usborne.
For Children 8 to 12 years old…and more!
Once they have learned to read, it is sometimes a real challenge to keep their child interested in books. In this case, comics are often a good way to maintain a link between the child and the book, as well as investigations or puzzles to be solved. In these genres, there are many books in English. Asterix Among the Gauls, for example, has been translated into English. Bilingual illustrated novels for beginners like Me, A London Detective are very well done. In this collection, there are several levels to help you find your way around.
Another method can be effective: offer your child books about his favorite heroes. In this regard, the complete collection of Harry Potter books are essential, provided however that you have acquired an advanced level of English.
Finally, nonfiction books on your child’s favorite themes could also be a good option to encourage reading in English and develop their vocabulary.
Does your child love space and astronomy? Do they want to know everything about planets, stars, and black holes? This informational book entirely in English could very well astonish them through hundreds of unusual and extraordinary pieces of information on space. This book is part of a collection developed around different themes such as science, food, or coding.
By Jérôme Martin and Alex Frith, at Usborne.
More than fifty tricks to amaze friends: smoking fingers, visible sound waves, disappearing coins…all while learning English! Something to delight your budding mad scientists.
By Daniel Tatarsky, at Portico.