Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Reading" French Books on YouTube!

Well, so much for blogging on a regular basis. I basically took the summer off, each week feeling derelict and off-balance as a result. I have been adding links as I come across good videos or online sites or books, but haven't really sat down to write (ergo think!) in ages. My loss, especially as I sit with my eyes closed as I type and a heavenly September breeze sneaks in through my balcony door.  Anyway, I thought I'd get started again by sharing a new tool I've found for "reading" in French. It is self-evident from the title, but just to complete the thought:

L'avaleur de bobos- Emile Jadoul
Zach, like I believe most children, loves his routines. One of the non-negotiable ones--and our favorites--is reading Good Night Moon every night. We read in English (for anyone who doesn't know, I have never attempted to speak exclusively in French to Zach - my tongue gets tired after a few hours in French and I just could never imagine not speaking my native English to him most of the time; I have aimed for about two hours of French per day since he was born.)  On occasion, however, when bedtime has passed and I'm just trying to breeze through it and turn out the light, I can't quickly find the book in the jumble on the bedside table or shelf.  To stave off a crisis, it occurred to me one night that I might be able to find it on YouTube (sadly, the laptop is always in sight). Not surprisingly, in half a second we were both having Good Night Moon  read to us by a soothing mother's voice. I have resorted to this method several times when traveling and other occasions when my own ragged copy is unavailable.

This happened months ago, but only recently did it occur to me (as I thought about my bag of overdue French library books) that I might try to find French books the same way.  At first, I didn't find exactly what I wanted, which was just someone's voice reading a book with visuals of the book's pages--nothing more. There were several links to something close: audio stories with some minimal visual animation and sound effects (essentially, something less mind-trapping than a video, but less "wholesome" than plain old reading.) So that was a start. An example is La Chenille Qui Fait Des Trous (by Eric Carle).

Then, after some digging ( I think I used the search term "caca boudin livre") I stumbled on a video by "Rachel vous raconte" - a series of stories read by a native French speaking child.  She does an amazing job with dramatizing the story with her voice--at least as well as I could do myself--and the stories are perfect for Zach's level of comprehension (3-4 year old). On the screen, all you see are the pages of the book with a simulated turning of the page.  Here are a few I found which I'll definitely be trying out in the coming weeks.

L'avaleur de bobos (by Emile Jadoul)
Chacun dans son lit (by Pascale Bougeault)
Juste un petit bout (by Emile Jadoul)
Et pourquoi? ( by Michel van Zeveren)

To see the complete list, here is the directory found by searching for "rachel livre audio" on DailyMotion.

Despite my laziness having clearly reached  new heights (my very local library is stocked with children's books in French) I am happy to have found this tool both as a convenience and a new way expose Zach to books - some of which we would not otherwise be able to find- and especially to share it with anyone who doesn't have access to French language children's books. 

Bonne lecture, and if anyone knows of more links like these please share!


  1. Thanks for a great recommendation! We have just started getting into French eBooks on the iPad, the kids love them as they're interactive with little games, surprising sounds and so on. I liked your search term, 'caca boudin' is one of my kids' fave books too!

  2. Thanks Tallulah! Yes - caca boudin (or anything with 'caca' for that matter) is a sure hit for us. Hopefully his tastes will be more refined at some point!l;-) any recommndations for the ipad ebooks? i am planning on getting one at some point, primarily for zach (but not exclusively!) - likely at christmas. is it easy to find french content for kids? i have heard a lot on the blogs, but haven't actually tried myself.