We rely on our local library a ton when it comes to getting French books. My son and daughter each read a French book aloud most days. I also read a few books aloud to them. Then we have our book bin – they choose something from the bin to read on their own for 15 minutes a day. We also check out French DVD’s – they watch one 20-minute show in French each day. All this adds up to a lot of items from the library. It would cost us a fortune if we had to buy them all.
What can you do if you don’t have access to French books at the public library? Sure, you can buy lots of items online, but what if you can’t afford that or your bookshelves are already full?
Even if you have a great local library, what do you do when you go on vacation and you don’t want to drag a bunch of books with you, but you still want your kids to read in French?
French electronic books
French e-books are hard to find. Public libraries are getting much better at having extensive English titles in their collections, but French? Not so much.
Bibliothèque numérique de la francophonie des amériques – available everywhere and free
This online library has a limited selection of books, but it’s free. You can access it here: https://www.bibliothequedesameriques.com/ You need to sign up for a free account. Then, it functions like a regular library. If there aren’t any licenses available, you can place a hold on an item you’re interested in. You’ll get an e-mail when the book is available. There are limits for the number of items that can be checked out at a time, and the number of holds you can place, so choose carefully!
To read items on a mobile device, you need to access the website from your mobile device. After you download the epub, you can read it using the Bluefire reader app. They have a list of compatible devices here: https://www.bibliothequedesameriques.com/help/compatible_devices It took me a minute to figure out what to do, but after I got it going, it was easy to add more books. We used this site a ton while we were in Florida for a month last winter.
Possible library-integrated collections – check your library to see if they have these (free)
Ma biblio numérique
This site is integrated into our local public library. Maybe it is with yours too (especially if you’re in Canada)? I got to it by looking at the digital media section of my library’s website, and then I needed to login using my library credentials to see the catalog of French e-books. I tried going to the site directly so I could give you a link, but it doesn’t work. This site here: http://sols.mabiblionumerique.ca/fr/identification_001024.aspx# looks like it is the same thing, but my library isn’t listed. Maybe yours is?
I would suggest looking at your local library’s website to see what digital resources they have. Perhaps they have something available that isn’t well publicized.
As for ours, they have limited selection, and it’s tricky to get to, but it’s free.
Tumblebook library is geared more towards younger children. The books they have are animated. They have lots of English titles, and some French ones as well. Again, check the digital media section of your library to see if they offer it. If not, you can look at it here, but it looks like they only sell to libraries (really?): https://www.tumblebooklibrary.com/Default.aspx
I tried to use this site last year while we were on vacation. It works great on a desktop machine, but because it uses flash, I couldn’t get it going on my iPad without downloading a special browser – Photon – that supported flash applications. Then, because of the way special browsers get flash to work on the iPad, it uses extra bandwidth which means more data usage on the go and slower speeds. A whole lot of hassle so we dropped it. My kids preferred to just read on their own anyway, but the site looks good for younger kids using a desktop machine.
Storyplayr – available everywhere for a fee
Storyplayr is available online, and as an app for ios or Android. The catalog of titles available is quite extensive (way more than the others noted above), and they are adding new titles all the time. Titles can be searched by age or by subject. The approximate amount of time it takes to read a story is indicated under each title, so you and your child know what you’re getting into.
Another neat feature is the audio accompaniment available for many of the books. These are recorded by other subscribers and submitted to Storyplayr. Storyplayr moderates them and if the sound quality is good and the text is well enunciated and read correctly, they add the recording to the website/app. I listened to a few audio accompaniments, and they were done well. You can also add your own recordings of the stories, available for your own use, without the recordings being moderated by Storyplayr. This could be useful if you wanted your child to be able to listen to you reading when your lap is not available – like when you’re driving, for example.
We’ve had access to this service for the last few months, but my kids have not used it much. They much prefer paper books to electronic and since we have so many paper options from our library, it’s hard to compete. However, when we head on our winter vacation in a few months, I am absolutely going to purchase a subscription for the time that we’ll be away from our library.
Storyplayr is a paid service. The cost for a subscription is 49 Euros per year or 4,90 Euros per month. There is a free trial available so you can try before you buy. Many thanks to Storyplayr for extending this free trial period for me for the purposes of this review!
Have I missed any? Where do you find French e-books?
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