Reading familiar children’s books in German is a great way for beginners to learn the language. Children’s books are an excellent place to start for new German learners, just as they are a great learning tool for children in German-speaking countries to master their language.
To help you learn first words and word order, you also can try reading books children actually grow up reading in Germany. If it works for children in German-speaking countries, it can work well for you too.
These early children’s books are good because books for younger children repeat sentences over and over. For beginners, this is a good thing because it means you will repeatedly practice the same words and grammatical structures. Therefore build your vocabulary to master the language.
Here is our list of the 10 best German children’s books for beginners:
Mein erster Lesehase
For new and emergent readers, we want to highly recommend this series of books to new German readers. The syllable-aid reading method of the Lesehase series makes reading the text so much easier! The individual syllables are highlighted in color. This way, first-time readers can read longer words correctly straight away. Reading in a foreign language will definitely not become overwhelming this way! Try Klara ist krank or Räuber auf der Flucht.
Bildermaus books are fun for emergent readers. Why? Because they replace the word for the picture, making each book in the series an interactive experience. This is still a great book to read to kids who aren’t young beginners anymore, to aid in expanding vocabulary. Fun Bildermaus books include learning about jungle animals in Das kleine Einhorn und der Nixenzauber and fairy friends in Geschichten von der Kleinen Fee.
Der kleine Drache Kokosnuss
Written at a 2nd-grade reading level, these charming books are about a little dragon who goes on all kinds of adventures with his friends, Matilda and Oskar on a dragon island. Kokosnuss the dragon travels to the North Pole in Der kleine Drache Kokosnuss und der chinesische Drache to rescue a polar bear -battling homesickness along the way- in a tale of bravery and friendship.
Tafiti is a little meerkat who stars in several sweet children’s books that are widely beloved. Designed for intermediate readers around a 2nd-grade level- but also great to share with earlier readers, these books follow Tafiti and his friends in Africa. Try Tafiti und das verschwundene Geburtstagskind or Tafiti und die Reise ans Ende der Welt.
Petronella Apfelmus is a small witch who lives inside of an old apple with her best friend: Lucius, a stag beetle. If that doesn’t already sound adorable, they take care of an apple tree on the property of an old mill, and become friends with the twins that move into the mill. Together, the four go on all kinds of whimsical adventures. These books are a lot of fun, and are perfect for the third-grade reading level.
Das Magische Baumhaus
This is the German version of the highly popular Magic Treehouse series. Siblings Anne and Phillip travel to faraway places and journey into the past with the help of Das magische Baumhaus. They uncover mysteries, make friends with famous historical figures, and go on all sorts of adventures that will keep your third-grade level readers turning the pages for a long time.
Hanno malt sich einen Drachen
In Hanno malt sich einen Drachen, Hanno is an outsider who is bullied and alone. One day on his way home from school, Hanno draws a dragon in the sand, and this dragon comes to life and becomes his best friend. Hanno experiences what it feels like to be accepted despite being different. It’s a sweet story about friendship, fear, bullying, school, and being different, and it’s great for third-grade level readers.
This book series, Greg’s Tagebuch, is the German version of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In it, Greg Heffley takes readers through his daily life with two annoying brothers, his best friend Rupert, and his struggles in school. It’s formatted like a graphic novel to grab older readers who are in the fourth-grade reading level and above.
Nikki Maxwell shares her daily struggles with her biggest rival MacKenzie in this humorous series, Dork Diaries. It follows the chaotic and turbulent situations Nikki gets herself into, but all the while never loses its humor, showing readers how they can survive middle school. It’s a great option for fourth-grade level readers.
You can find books like these and more at Kinderbooks. First-time German readers will not be overwhelmed by the easy vocabulary and simple language found in these books.
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