I am a French as a Second Language teacher by training and I am passionate about children’s literature. I always try to pass on this passion to my students. It was during my first teaching internship, in a foster class, that I really understood the power of books on learning a new language.
In this article, I present five of my favorite books for your French immersion students in grades 1 to 6, along with some ideas for teaching.
Author : Dawn Casey
Publishing company : La pastèque
Illustrator : Geneviève Godbout
This is the story of a little girl and her dog who go in search of the ingredients to make a cake. They celebrate nature and thank her for what she offers. There are very few words, but the message is big and beautiful. And what about the illustrations!
With your students, practice giving thanks for the little things in life. It’s so simple and caring!
2. L’arbre des souhaits
Author: Kyo Maclear
Publishing company : Scholastic
Illustrator : Chris Turnham
This is the story of Charles who goes in search of the wish tree with his toboggan. On the way, he meets different animals to whom he does favors and who help him in return. His adventure is full of kindness: we see the power of mutual aid and kindness.
This is an absolutely beautiful book that students really enjoy. They can understand the story well because of the many repetitions and simple vocabulary (in addition to the beautiful illustrations!).
In the classroom, this album can be used in a variety of ways and for different subjects:
- Ask students to formulate a wish (I wish/ I would like) with a focus on an intention.
- Their wishes can be posted in the classroom afterwards.
- Make a wish tree, individually or collectively, with leaves containing wishes.
- Discuss the theme of winter and discover new vocabulary.
- Discover the habits of animals during this season (the bear hibernating, the squirrel stocking up, etc.).
In short, a complete scrapbook to have fun with! To check out the project I did with my students, visit my Instagram account!
3. Au cœur des mots
Author and illustrator: Kate Jane Neal
This album highlights the power of words. They can be used to do beautiful things, but they can be hurtful and cause harm. This is a must-have album in a classroom. It can be used as a primer for a discussion about bullying, as well as to address manners and respect for others.
Personally, after reading the book, I asked my students to write words and short sentences that are comforting and kind. Then, they shared them with the other students in the class. We ended with a great discussion about the impact of our words by reflecting on these two questions: How do you feel when you say or receive a kind word? How do you feel when you say or receive a mean word?
A good way to work on empathy!
Are you interested in the activities? It’s here and it’s free:
4. Sergent Billy – La vraie histoire du chevreau devenu soldat
Author : Mireille Messier
Publisher : Isatis
Illustrator : Kass Reich
Sergeant Billy is the TRUE story of a young goat who REALLY became a soldier in the 5th Battalion of the Canadian Armed Forces during the First World War. The album begins with a photo of him taken in Regina when he returned from the war in 1919.
This book allows students to discover an inspiring fact about the history of our Canadian army. It can be a great addition to a social studies class.
For the French class, I found a complete pedagogical sheet, produced by the publisher Isatis, on the author’s website.
Although it is based on the competencies of the Quebec Education Program, it can be built upon and adapted for the needs of teachers in all provinces.
Author : Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara (16 albums) & Lisbeth Kaiser (1 album)
Publishing house: La courte échelle
Illustrator : Various illustrators
The Courte échelle catalog currently includes 17 documentary albums from the De petit.e à grand.e collection that have been translated into French. They allow us to discover the inspiring journey of women and men who had to fight to live their dreams. They include scientists, artists, activists, adventurers, writers, painters and more. A wide variety of role models for everyone!
The books in this series are real favorites. We get to know each personality from childhood to adulthood, and understand the motivations behind each of their actions. Each of them has contributed to building a better world! The reading of these albums can lead to great discussions and reflections with the children: What makes you special? What are your dreams? What would you like to do in the future? What would you like to accomplish?
The books can also be used as a primer for a research project on an inspirational person, or students can be asked to summarize the information by creating a poster. Biographical text can also be introduced using the biographical cards that complete each album. I also like to draw a psychological portrait of the personalities, based on the story read. This allows students to discover new words and to work on the description (she is persevering, determined, courageous, committed, etc.).
Enjoy your discovery!
Other readings that might interest you: