Bonjour, les amis! If you're searching for a French children's magazine for ages 3-6, my four-year-old and I highly recommend Toupie et Chansons. (If you prefer a French magazine for toddlers, try Popi; for other ages, here's how to subscribe to other French children's magazines.) We've subscribed to Toupie for two years now, and my daughter re-reads the issues several times per week. Well, technically she can't read yet, but she spends impressive amounts of time staring at the pages and re-reading them with me.
Here's why Toupie is worth the subscription:
Toupie is a monthly, 35-page magazine with short stories and a comic, a comptine (nursery rhyme or children's song), fun activities, an imagier (vocabulary-labeled scene), an informative topic page, and a detachable insert with 70-plus stickers.
What my child loves:
- The familiar characters: Manon (a little girl who loves animals), Flocon (a polar bear cub), Eliot & Zoé (twin preschoolers).
- The little activity games to complete (see image below).
- Above all, the stickers! Most of the stickers correspond with specific pages, but there are always extra stickers for a creative activity, such as designing your own Taj-inspired castle, or creating a forest creature out of nature stickers.
What I love:
- The CDs feature decent music with multiple instruments and singers. (I'll share more about those below.)
- The stories are cute and teach me new vocabulary words while remaining understandable for my daughter. (I'm not a native French speaker, but I'm quite fluent.)
- The imagier scene is also great for learning new vocabulary.
- The magazines are ad-free, except for one or two unobtrusive ads for a child-friendly French book or DVD.
The Chansons option: For roughly thirty dollars more than the basic 12-issue Toupie subscription, you can upgrade your subscription to Toupie & Chansons, where you receive 4 Toupie Chansons issues with 4 CDs of children's music. (Essentially, you receive one special issue & a CD each season of the year in addition to the monthly Toupie.) Toupie Chansons issues contain lyrics, music scores, coloring pages, an instrument info page, and a brief music education activity to accompany the CD.
While my daughter doesn't color the pages or read the Chanson issues much, we enjoy the music on the CDs and I appreciate the lyrics in these issues. The CDs would be fantastic for French teachers, especially at the elementary and middle school level, but possibly even at the high school level depending on the song.
Each music CD has a theme, such as world music (always in French, bien sûr!), songs about France, or farm-related songs. The CDs always seem to feature the same musicians and they do start to sound very similar after you own several, just as you got tired of that third U2 CD you bought as a college student. But the songs are different enough to make the subscription worthwhile (and U2 is still a great band even if you've stopped buying their music). Each track is followed by an instrumental karaoké version of the song (which is perfect for classroom use).
How to subscribe: Contact the Bayard magazine sales representative in your region of the U.S.; he or she can send you a price list and subscription form. You can also subscribe through Bayam's English website, but it will cost more than going through a representative.
For older children: My daughter still adores Toupie, but she will soon turn five years old, and now that we've received nearly two years worth of issues, I'd love to try Pomme d'Api, the magazine my four-year-old host sister used to receive in France. But knowing how much my daughter loves the stickers in Toupie, she might prefer Toboggan, the sequel to Toupie (for ages 5-7).
Bonne lecture! Which magazines does your child love? Do you have a favorite French magazine?