5 Books You Should Read to Improve Your French Skills

There’s very little not to love about the French language: it’s beautiful, fun, and useful for both business and travel. If you’ve been studying French for some time, you’ve probably reached a sort of learning plateau. You may feel like you’re not advancing as quickly as you did in the beginning and are aching to find some way to challenge your language skills. There’s no better way to take your French skills to the next level than reading books in French. Not sure where to begin? Check out our 5 French recommendations and dig in!

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1. Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

For: Beginner – Intermediate

Why You’ll Love It: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s famous children’s story has been translated into many languages, but it is most beautiful in the original French tongue. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a French person for whom this book wasn’t a part of their childhood, so if you want to be a true Francophile you should definitely give it a go!


2. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

For: Beginner – Advanced

Why You’ll Love It: Who doesn’t love Harry Potter, right? You may be wondering though why it’s recommended reading when it is originally written in English. Well, as it turns out, Harry Potter makes for great reading when you’re learning a new language. Firstly, most people have read the series in their native tongue, so it’s easy to follow the story when they practice it in French. Secondly, each book gets more difficult as the series progresses, so your French skills can advance along with them.

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3. Babar’s Travels (Le Voyage de Babar) by Jean de Brunhoff

For : Beginner

Why You’ll Love It: You probably didn’t know that your favorite royal elephant from your childhood is actually French, did you? The great thing about Babar’s Travels is that you don’t have to be very advanced in your language learning to be able to read them. Revisit your childhood AND improve your French, all at the same time!


4. The Ant Trilogy (La Trilogie des Fourmis) by Bernard Werber

For : Intermediate

Why You’ll Love It: If you feel you’re too advanced to be reading books like The Little Prince but not quite ready for something as complicated as, say, Les Miserables, this trilogy may be perfect for you. This book has an easy to follow storyline, lots of dialogue, and plenty of sci-fi flavors to keep you entertained.

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5. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

For: Advanced

Why You’ll Love It: If you’re ready to sink your chops into something a bit more challenging, nothing works better than Flaubert’s haunting novel. Madame Bovary is one of the most iconic works of French literature and you’ll have something to brag about (and talk about) once you finish!

Although reading in a foreign language may be a great form of practice, it’s pretty hard to develop solid French skills if you limit your education to just that. Before you hit the books, make sure you have a good foundation to build on by signing up for some top-tier French lessons. If you’re already studying French and want to gage your level, you can try our free online French placement test to do just that. As long as you have the right language tools, curling up on a rainy afternoon with a good French book will be the enjoyable experience it’s meant to be.