5 types of German short stories for beginners

5 types of German short stories for beginners

by Anne Walther

Updated November 7, 2022

Since the beginning of time, people have told each other stories to share experiences or entertain one another. They allow people to connect creatively to one another and share understanding and ideas. It then comes as no surprise that storytelling is a great way to learn – especially when learning a language!

In Germany, stories have a long history. As a country famed in part for its poets and thinkers, German stories range from fables and folktales to epic poems and contemporary literature. They’re not only an entertaining way to learn the German language, but also offer some insights into German history and culture. Of course, if you are new to the language, you may find common German stories still too difficult to understand. That’s why we have compiled a short list of different types of German stories to help you get started.

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1. Traditional German fairy tales

The first category and most famous category of German reading for beginners is without a doubt the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. In fact, these stories are so famous, many of them were turned into movies by Walt Disney! The brothers traveled around in Germany and collected traditional household tales from the locals, resulting in now commonly known stories such as Cinderella or Snow White. Although the original stories were meant for adults and require a certain proficiency in German, adaptations in easy language can be found.

2. Penguin Books short stories

If you enjoy contemporary literature more than fairy tales and would rather read a physical book than an online article, many publishers offer so-called parallel stories. Parallel stories are a great way to learn a language because they include both English versions and translated versions of the literature. Publisher Penguin books, among others, sells books in simple German as parallel stories. 

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3. Dino lernt Deutsch 

If you want to practice your German through reading stories, the book series Dino lernt Deutsch should be on your list. The series starts at a beginner level of German and follows protagonist Dino on his journey of exploring Germany. The level of each book gradually increases, allowing readers to continue Dino’s story while improving their language skills along the way. The books can be bought separately or as a bundle.

4. Famous 19th century stories

Years after the Brothers Grimm made a name for themselves for collecting fairy tales from different German regions, writers like Wilhelm Busch wrote stories meant to teach kids manners and good behavior. One of his most famous stories is Max & Moritz, a tale of two young boys misbehaving and getting in trouble. Much like many other German stories of this time, it is written in the form of a poem. There are many collections of such stories online, for example the one of the Virginia Commonwealth University, which also offers English translations.

5. German reading for beginners from the Goethe Institute

Much like their famous namesake Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, the not-for-profit organization Goethe Institute is all about making culture and literature accessible for everyone. It then comes as no surprise that they also offer many books and stories for free through their online library. The library offers a huge selection, ranging from short stories to books, beginner to advanced levels and a range of different themes.

Learning with stories means learning about German culture!

Not only are stories a great tool for language learning, but they can also give you interesting insights into the local culture and customs. In German culture, you will find many stories and local legends, even in the smallest towns, that can help you understand the local way of life and help you connect with people in the area. And maybe with enough German practice, you can tell them some stories about your culture as well!

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Anne is a German freelance writer and communication and data protection consultant. In addition to her job, she is founder and coach of the Dutch non-for-profit organization CLUB Coaching. Due to her work, she resides in both Germany and the Netherlands. Whenever her time is not occupied with communication in all its forms, she spends time with her six pets, gardening or being creative with fashion and design. You can follow her on LinkedIn.

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