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Erika Hope Spencer, Reference Specialist, European Reading Room, Latin American, Caribbean & European Division
Created: May 1, 2021
Last Updated: August 25, 2022
Reading in French is an exciting way to increase your understanding of the language, and a vital part of learning about Francophone culture. Students at all levels can benefit from picking up publications in French, but it is important to select the appropriate level, and to pick a genre that truly interests you. This will keep your enthusiasm strong as you progress with your studies. This guide directs students to the rich variety of French-language resources at The Library of Congress. It includes a sample of books intended to help both beginning and advanced students. The first section contains a sample of classics of French Literature that are well-suited for students due to their shorter length and more accessible prose: authors such as Guy de Maupassant, Albert Camus and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Editions are given for both French and English languages. There are bibliographies for Bande Dessinée (Comics or BDs) and Romans Graphiques (Graphic Novels); Children's Books; Teen and Young Adult Fiction; True Crime & Mystery; Contemporary Fiction and Contemporary Issues in France. There is also a list of popular French Magazines & Newspapers. Lastly, there is a section on Digital Resources for French Language Learners. Reading is only one piece of achieving language fluency. Pronunciation, intonation and oral comprehension all require audio resources. The internet is a rich resource for these tools and some suggestions will be listed in this guide. Search up interviews of French celebrities on YouTube and listen to Podcasts and French music. One technique introduced by linguist Alexander Arguelles is called language shadowing in which a student listens to audio by native speakers and simply repeats the sounds without regard to comprehension. Regardless of learning styles, using a variety of techniques and resources is the best way to master a language and keep it interesting and satisfying.
To avoid redundancy, in most cases only one language edition is listed for books. To find both language editions, simply do an author search or click on the author's name in the record link.
The Library of Congress Online Catalog represents a collection of over 18 million catalog records for books, serials, manuscripts, maps, music, recordings, images, and electronic resources in the Library of Congress collections. To locate more French language material please consult our catalog. To find additional materials written by authors you like, do an author search. To locate French journals, magazines and newspapers do a Browse search (Titles beginning with) leaving out the article (e.g., le, la, les). It is important to utilize the "limits" in your search-especially for one word publications. Use the "Add Limits" function for your search as follows: Place of publication (France), Language (French), Type of Material (Periodical or Newspaper). This will drastically improve the relevancy of your search results.
In addition to this guide to resources for learning the French language, staff of the Library of Congress have produced several other detailed guides on French and Francophone resources. They are linked below.