20+ graphic novels in French for young readers

21 Nov 2019

Graphic novels can get a bad reputation as some adults think they are just images and don't count as serious reading. However, experts have widely disagreed on this and many point to the benefits of graphic novels for reluctant readers and emergent readers.

In my house, we are big graphic novels fans. Miss 9 has been devouring all graphic novels she can find since she started reading. We are slowly adding more and more text and fewer and fewer images but she will pick a good graphic novel over anything else.

Recent studies have shown that reading graphic novels is actually much more challenging in terms of brain development and skills than reading a traditional novel. Graphic novels increase recall and problem solving, and they generally enrich the skills of the reader.
Liesl Shurtliff, a New York Times bestselling author, makes this compelling point about graphic novels:

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if graphic novels are more, less, or equally challenging than a straight novel. What matters most is the child, their identity, and their relationship with books and reading. Shaming any child for their reading choices, no matter what it is, is a death sentence to the child’s budding and delicate passion for reading.
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As French is pretty much our family language these days, Miss 9 reads a lot in French. So, she has helped me compile a list of her favourite books she has been reading from first grade till now (which would correspond to CP/CM1 in France). Most of these books are suitable from about 6 years old. And most of these books are also series, so you have reading for weeks! As you will see there is something in there for everyone: from girly dancing books to space and monster adventures, from crazy dog adventures to classic Famous 5-style adventures.

Happy reading!

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>> Tom-Tom & Nana

A French classic I used to read as a kid. The cartoon covers the Dubouchon family, proprietors of the restaurant The Good Fork, which is often turned upside-down by the mischief of the two youngest children, Tom-Tom and Nana. Hilarious and a great book series to start emerging readers on. Miss 9's absolute favourite from the moment she could read. You can find most of the titles here

>> Adèle

A new style of female heroes, Adèle has a wicked sense of humour but she is always loving. Tighten your seatbelt, it is a wicked book series. Here is Miss 9's favourite in the series. 

>> Les Sisters

Marine and her older sister Wendy. Both are full of personality and a strong sense of independence. So while they may love each other with all their hearts, it's not always easy for the two of them to be together. While Marine may want to hang out with her older sister, nothing could be more embarrassing for Wendy. See how despite all odds, they still manage to get through each day without killing each other… well, at least so far! You can find most books from the series here. The books are available in French and English if I am not mistaken. 

>> Studio Danse

Whether it’s ballet, modern dance, or hip-hop, these three are committed to getting better, and maybe one day making it to the Nationals! In the meantime, they still have school, family, crushes, and everything else life throws their way. Follow along with their hilarious misadventures as they practice to perfection, ace their recitals, and hopefully make it through with no bumps and bruises! You can find the books here. Again this series is available in French and English.  

>> Anatole Latuile

14 books about this crazy boy with his even crazier hair and his silly ideas. He puts all his energy into doing silly stuff and getting himself into trouble, mostly in the school playground. You can find the stories here

>> Zita la fille de l'espace

Another series of 3 books that exists in English. Zita the Spacegirl is a fun, captivating tale of friendship and redemption from Flight veteran Ben Hatke. It also has more whimsical, eye-catching, Miyazaki-esque monsters than you can shake a stick at. We love strong girl stories and even though Miss 9 is not normally into monsters and space creatures, she really liked this. You can find the books here.

>> Les carnets de Cerise

Cerise is an 11-year-old who lives alone with her mother. She dreams of becoming a writer and already has quite a few journals written up. Her favourite subject: people and adults in particular. She likes to observe people and imagine what secrets are hidden deep down inside them. The books are here

>> Emile et Margot

The two siblings live in a castle in the middle of a forest. Their favourite pastime is to drive their maid crazy. The stories are full of humour and poetry. You can find them here

>> Chien Pourri

Chien Pourri (Dumpster Dog in the English version) dreams of treats, balls, and leashes. He wants someone to play with, someone who will take him on long walks, someone who will feed him--he wants an owner. So begins Dumpster Dog's search for a human companion. The series is available here.

>> Lou!

This series is available in English and German too. Starring a tween girl, Lou — diminutive for "Louise" — and her single mom, Emma, an aspiring Space Opera writer (who gets published eventually). The comic started out as a gag series, but from the second volume onwards, it focuses on story and continuity. Lou is your average middle school girl. She loves theatre, makes her own clothes, and has a huge crush on someone who she can't bring herself to talk to. She also has an awesome best friend, and a video game loving mom who she's determine to set up with the guy across the hall. Life is never dull for Lou! You can find the series here.

>> Bruno

Bruno, the cat in the checkered cap, takes life as it comes. When it's too rainy to go outside, his friends come around for breakfast. When a fish invites him into the river, he follows it. Why not? When the canary forgets how to talk, Bruno helps out. Days come and go, and for Bruno they always bring something interesting. And once in a while, a day comes along that is just about perfect! These six linked stories are full of friendship, silliness, and the little moments that make life good. There are two volumes with stories from Bruno (and volume 1 is also available in English). You can find them here.

>> Le Club des Cinq junior

An easier adaptation of the classic Famous 5 stories and adventures. This collection is available here

>> Les Inséparables

These little books are perfect for very young readers. They are short, simple and cover topics of interest in a simple manner (racism, screen addiction, pocket money, etc). They are presented in a graphic novel style, hence their appearance here. You can find them here

>> Max et Lili

There are over 120 books in this series. They are small and short but can contain a lot of texts. Each volume talks about a fun or difficult life subject (from death or unemployment to religion, from going camping to getting lost) in a very relatable style. Miss 9 loves them. She reads them to her brother too. I find them a good starting point for discussions on certain topics. You can find some here

>> Les enquêtes des enfants capables

    As the title suggest, a cute group of kids solving mysteries. Technology mixed with retro styles makes this steampunk series adorable. You can find them here.

    >> Surfside Girls

    Two books (available in French and English) about two young girls spending their best summer surfing, and solving mysteries. Miss 9 loved them both and I loved the illustrations. You can find them here

    >> Motordu

    Another classic from my childhood. The hilarious story of a Prince who is invited back into school to straighten his words. This is a little tougher to read for very youg readers as the word plays are numerous. But once they get it, it is great fun. Find them here

    >> Le Petit Nicolas

    A classic for any French school child. Miss 9 loves them even though she often stops to ask cultural questions that are clearly outdated. But I have fun explaining them to her. Find Le Petit Nicolas here. 

    >> Verte

    Verte shows no interest in becoming a witch. She wants to be normal. Her mother is exasperated, so she sends her for a day to her grandmother. The results are good. A little too good. This is a fun one-off story (also available as a non-graphic novel). You can find the graphic version here

    >> Fleur de Bambou

    Two animals and a little girl set out to save the bamboo forest in two adventures (and two separate books). We love the illustrations in those books and the sweet solidarity between the main characters. You can find them here

    >> Jack le téméraire

    Another story available in English (Mighty Jack) and French. A fantastic rework or adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk. You can find them here

    Have you got a favourite graphic novel for young readers? We would love to hear your suggestions. 

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