A book series we have been using around our house lately comes from ERPI (Éducation du Renouveau Pédagogique Inc). This company produces a ton of French resources. The most frustrating part is figuring out which ones are appropriate. Their web site is horrible, so perhaps now that I’ve used a few of their products, I can clarify a few of the items they have.
Le coffret des mini rats
This is the first series I would recommend. The books are simple with short sentences and colourful pictures. Each set comes with a CD so you can listen to someone with a proper French accent reading the stories correctly if that’s an issue for you. Older children won’t find these books as entertaining as younger children due to their simplicity, but they will find the pictures helpful in remembering the words.
My 8 year old read a few of these over the summer as a bit of a break from more difficult texts. She’s enjoyed the stories, picked up some new vocabulary, and refined her pronunciation along the way. We haven’t been using the CD’s, but I did listen to one of them and the reader was pleasant and engaging.
My 6 year old always listens intently as his sister reads these books. I plan on getting him to read the series as well when he’s ready.
Our local library carries this series both in loose volumes and in boxes of 6 books together with a CD for each. If your library does not carry them, you can order them from Canadian Education Warehouse. Please note that I have never ordered from Canadian Education Warehouse before. If you have, please let me know about your experience in the comments so that others will be aware as well. Amazon had a few of the boxes, but not all.
There are 4 boxes of 6 books, 24 books all together.
Le coffret des petits rats
After the mini rats comes Le Coffret des petits rats. This series is broken up into 2 levels. The red level is easier, geared to age 6 francophone/French immersion reading level. The yellow level is harder, geared for age 6-7.
These books come in boxes of 12. Each box has a CD with the stories read aloud, just as with the Mini Rats series mentioned above. These boxes also come with an activity book that has questions to answer for each story, and a certificate for your student at the end.
In Le Coffret des petits rats 1, you will find books 1-6 of the red series and books 1-6 of the yellow series. So, to go through the books in logical order, you’ll go through Coffret 1 red series, Coffret 2 red, Coffret 3 red, and then re-start with Coffret 1 yellow, Coffret 2 yellow, Coffret 3 yellow. I am embarrassed to admit how long it took me to figure that out.
My daughter loves these books! She worked through the red series a few months ago and we’re on the yellow ones now. She finds the stories amusing and engaging. Personally, I could have done without book 11 called Un boucan d’enfer (if you Google translate that, you’ll understand why), but otherwise they have been great. I had planned on just discussing the questions in the activity book orally instead of writing since we got the boxes from the library, but she was begging me to write the answers down. So, I ended up ordering the activity books for $2.95 each from Librairie du Centre to use along with the borrowed readers.
Our library had the book boxes. If yours doesn’t, you can order them from Librairie du Centre, a fantastic store with great service. They are also available at Canadian Education Warehouse. Note that if you order the book box, it includes the activity book mentioned in the previous paragraph so you don’t need to order it separately.
Le Coffret des grands rats
The next stage up, which we haven’t gotten to yet, is Le Coffret des grands rats. With a francophone/French immersion reading age of 7-8, these stories will probably be more engaging for older children, provided they have the language skills to grasp the content.
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