Welcome to the giant free library of easy French short stories.
You don’t need a special library card. You don’t even need to leave your house.
All you need to do is bookmark some incredible sites for fun (and did we mention free?) French reading.
We’ll show you six of the best sites to find French stories for beginners and early intermediate readers. You’ll quickly understand the power of a wonderful French story to totally absorb you (while also sneakily teaching you new words and boosting your reading comprehension skills).
Why Read Kids’ Stories in French?
- You practice reading comprehension. Reading French children’s books is a much more fun way to practice your reading skills than scanning your French textbook for the millionth time. You’ll also learn simple phrases you may not learn in a textbook.
Since children’s books are written at an easy level for young readers, they’re also the perfect material for beginner or early-intermediate French students to practice with.
- You study verb tenses. Le subjonctif, le conditionnel, le futur simple… the sheer number of French verb tenses is overwhelming. Easy French short stories are good places to find complex verb tenses in simple, welcoming settings. It’s a little less terrifying to decipher different verb tenses while reading “Little Red Riding Hood” than “Madame Bovary,” right?
- You learn how to tell a story. In everyday life, you’re bound to tell a story now and then, so being able to do so in French is a must. Tell your coworkers about the car accident you witnessed on your way into the office. Describe the meeting with your boss to your spouse at the end of the day. Reading French children’s books is an easy way to study the art of storytelling.
Especially if you can catch on to those imparfait, passé composé and passé simple verb tenses!
- They’re the perfect launchpad to multimedia French learning tools. To become fluent in French, you’ll need to practice reading and listening comprehension together. Easy French short stories will lay the foundation and you can take things up a notch with FluentU.
FluentU provides real French videos—like animated stories, movie clips, funny YouTube videos and more—but supercharges them with language learning tools. There are interactive subtitles, flashcards and fun quizzes to make sure you understand (and remember!) every word in writing and by ear.
Kids’ Lit! 6 Sources of Easy French Short Stories for Learners
This website has multiple books in countless languages. You can find 59 French children’s books, all of them free.
The International Children’s Library’s setup is simple. You click on the book of your choice, then click the arrow button to scroll from page to page. If you have trouble understanding something, there’s an option to switch to a different language at the bottom of the page. Check the word you’re having trouble with, then switch back to French!
Featured Short Story: “Le Humpty Dumpty de Denslow” (Denslow’s Humpty Dumpty)
This hilarious easy French short story is a creative look into the life of Humpty Dumpty’s son. As the saying goes, tel père tel fils (like father, like son). Apparently, the son makes many of the same mistakes and bad judgments Humpty Dumpty did.
Besides being pretty gosh darn entertaining, “Le Humpty Dumpty de Denslow” teaches useful terms such as l’eau boillante (boiling water) and l’oeuf dur (hard-boiled egg).
Sorry, that last one may have been a bit of a spoiler for you.
The French Experiment is a diverse website with free online French lessons. My favorite part of the lessons are the children’s stories.
There are four short French stories for beginners with audio and text on the website. Each one is a classic tale that children from most English- and French-speaking countries would recognize. Which is super helpful, because how cool is it to know that you can read and tell the story of “The Ugly Duckling” in a different language? (That will really come in handy if you ever decide to raise bilingual children!)
Each story is printed in French, and you have the option to translate lines into English if you need some help. Because of this, even the most beginner of beginning learners can read The French Experiment’s stories.
Featured Short Story: “Boucles d’or et les Trois Ours” (Goldilocks and the Three Bears)
The French call Goldilocks Boucles d’or, which literally translates to “Curls of Gold.” I think that’s adorable!
In fact, this is just one more reason why reading classic children’s short stories is helpful to French learners. After reading them, you catch cultural references. If you ever hear a French speaker say Boucles d’or, you can surmise that they’re either talking about or comparing someone to Goldilocks.
“Boucles d’or et les Trois Ours” is filled with useful verbs. You’ll quickly learn action words such as frapper (to knock), refroidir (to cool) and jeter (to throw), as well as their imparfait conjugations.
Children’s Books Forever currently features 13 French children’s short stories, all of them centered around animal characters. Work your way through all of them, and you’ll soon learn vocabulary related to multiple furry friends.
The stories’ PDFs are easy to read and have fun illustrations. They would be ideal for integrating into a PowerPoint presentation or projecting in front of a classroom if you wanted to use them for a school project or presentation.
Featured Short Story: “Le Premier Noël de Bonbon” (Bonbon’s First Christmas)
Yes, bonbon is the French word for candy, but it’s also the name of the precious lead puppy in this book.
This story teaches readers a lot of vocabulary related to winter and Christmas. While the concept is simple, I would actually recommend “Le Premier Noël de Bonbon” for intermediate readers. Some of the vocabulary, especially verbs, is pretty advanced.
This website’s French stories for beginners are unique from the others on this list in that you don’t only read the words… you also hear the words being read aloud. That means you’re not just practicing your reading skills, but also your listening skills and pronunciation.
Each story is set up as a video with French subtitles. A Green Mouse’s videos are short, usually less than three minutes each.
The stories also have supplemental videos and materials that are free. This way, you learn additional vocabulary related to the topic of each story. For example, if the story is about going to school, the supplemental video may be about vocabulary words for different school supplies.
Featured Short Story: “Billy’s Birthday Story”
“Billy’s Birthday Story” teaches readers about a popular topic in every country, l’anniversaire (the birthday). You learn words such as le gâteau (cake), le cadeau (gift) and je suis né … (I was born…).
This story also helps learners practice numbers when learning how to say the date they were born, and dabbles in le passé composé when referring to the day Billy was born.
Check out the supplemental materials that teach months and days.
StoryJumper might be my favorite easy French short story resource on the internet right now.
You can create your own short story!
While I assume this feature was originally created for teachers to give writing assignments to their students, it’s also a great way to practice writing your own short story after reading ones others have created. As I mentioned above, learning how to tell a story is imperative when communicating in any language, so writing your own is fantastic practice.
Before you get to writing, read some of the other creative pieces fellow French students have created.
Featured Short Story: “L’Histoire de L’Éclipse” (The Story of the Eclipse)
Four French learners, Alanna Vo, Rose Johnson, Sarah Waites and Katie Kennedy, created this adorable story about the eclipse.
These girls do a great job incorporating l’imparfait into their story. You learn vocabulary related to the sky and outer space, such as le soleil (sun) and les nuages (clouds).
6. Reading A-Z
Here’s the deal. For each story on Reading A-Z, the website provides you with a small version of the story for free. No matter what. If you want print-out versions of the PDFs and additional materials for each story, you have to subscribe.
However, the first 14 days of your subscription are free.
And if you’re perfectly happy just using the computer, you can use those tiny flip-books for free.
Featured Short Story: “Les Animaux du Canada” (Canadian Animals)
This piece is simple, but it’s a great story for beginner learners.
It simply lists popular animals in Canada, which is nice if you ever want to travel to French Canada to study French!
“Les Animaux du Canada” also teaches simple but ubiquitous phrases such as Il vit au … (It lives in…) and Voici un … (This is a…).
Reading French children’s books doesn’t seem so silly now, does it? Especially when doing so is free!
Which of these websites appeals to you the most?
Open up a new tab on your browser, and get to reading some of these delightful easy French short stories.
Laura Grace Tarpley is a writer based in Athens, Georgia. She has spent the past four years living in and exploring France, New Zealand and China. She runs the blog Let’s Go Tarpley!, where she writes city guides and budget travel tips.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.