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Reading in French: A Student's Guide to Francophone Literature & Language Learning

French Books by Genre

Learning French at Grenoble. [between ca. 1915 and ca. 1920]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

France has a long-standing love of reading and literature and the vast literary history of French publishing is reflected in the Library of Congress' diverse collections. For the purposes of this guide scholarly material is not covered, but the Library also contains a wide selection of Children's Books, Teen and Young Adult Fiction, True Crime and Mystery, Contemporary Fiction and Non-Fiction on some of the most pressing and culturally relevant topics being discussed and debated in French society. For students it is helpful to read material that is of interest and to read a variety of material to increase vocabulary and exposure to different constructions. For example, the slang and colloquial speech found in BDs and French TV series (such as Verlan—the inversion of syllables in a word to create new spoken words) will give students a broader understanding of French culture—not only the culture found in textbooks. Reading classics such as Balzac and Colette are imperative for understanding France's historical roots. The famous fairytales of Charles Perrault (Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood to name a couple) are equally a part of French cultural history. Exploring new children's authors will enrich student understanding of modern France in relation to their colonial past and the rich cultural landscape of present day Francophone literature. Young Adult fiction lends insight into issues that younger generations are grappling with, and Thrillers are always popular escapes and fun diversions. Perhaps most important for the Francophile is to stay informed on contemporary social and cultural issues in France, which is the final genre.