The power of reading

“People acquiring a second language have the best chance of success through reading.” Stephen D Krashen

According to many studies, recreational reading (reading for pleasure) is the best way to improve your writing, grammar and vocabulary when learning a foreign language. What is especially beneficial is to read a little often, rather than do two hours of reading one day and then nothing for three weeks. 15 minutes a day should be enough to start with.

Narrow reading seems to be also more beneficial than broad reading. By narrow reading, we mean reading the work of one author, the same genre or the same topic. If you like romantic novels, read romantic novels. if you like fantasy, read fantasy. If you like reading magazines, read magazines. Just read what you enjoy, not what you think you should read.

Also, light reading is better than heavier reading, particularly if you are a beginner learner. Once you are at a higher level, then you can tackle more difficult books. Reading children’s books is a good way to start. Comics or graphic novels are very good for reluctant  and novice readers.  They are easier to understand as the text is supported by images.

What matter the most is the pleasure derived from reading. The more you enjoy reading, the more you will get out of it. You don’t need to write a summary or answer comprehension questions. Reading on its own is enough to help you progress.

Here are my recommendations:

Le Petit Nicolas by René Goscinny

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Comics such as Tintin, Astérix, Lucky Luke or les Tuniques Bleues

L’Etranger and La Chute  by Albert Camus

I am also a big fan of the Imogène series by Exbrayat. They are extremely funny with a bit of murder mystery included.

I don’t want to give too long a list because as I mentioned before, what matters is that you choose something that YOU will enjoy.  There is a wide choice of French books on Amazon France or FNAC websites. They usually deliver in most countries.

What are you waiting for? Get your books out and start reading!

8 comments

  1. An excellent post! I do have the first two books on your list and a few others. My current pleasure is reading La Rochefoucauld Maximes which are delicious and I am hooked.

    I also have several books of poetry, Baudelaire of course but also Paul Eluard… Actually I began reading French by discovering the poets and for me that is easier as it is where my heart is being a poet myself. I also read le journal most everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, but I enjoy writing poetry as well. There is one poet who I just love but other than a tiny collection I stumbled on in an old Montolieu book shop, I can find nothing on the poet??? The collection is titled: Des Mains Qui Parlaient En Silence. The author’s name is Serge Roy. If you know anything, I would love to find more of his work. 🙂

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  2. BTW, as Friday is the anniversary of the birth of one of France’s most well loved authors, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, perhaps a post in his honor/memory for those who gained much from his words. If so, I should be thrilled to reblog it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading my post. that’s a good idea. I actually went to school to the Lycee Saint Exupery when I was a teenager and I used to rehearse Le Petit Prince with some of my friends in the Roman amphitheatre in Lyon. thank you for your suggestion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • A friend of mine lives near Moulins and taught at the primary school, named Saint Exupery, in her village. Needless to say I have two copies of Le Petit Prince. One is in French of course and the other in English. I try to re-read them on the birthday. BTW, it is a shared birthday. “On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur, l’essentiel c’est invisible pour les yeux.”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have always maintained my level of spoken French through conversation classes and having a house in France! I love listening to French music and radio and watching French films. However, I’m very lazy when it comes to reading in French! So, I’ve just started reading ‘Petit pays’ by Gael Faye which I’m enjoying. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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