Learning German with stories is one of the most effective ways to increase your vocabulary and rapidly make sense of grammar in action, plus they can expand your awareness of the world and of German culture.
Regardless of your current level of expertise, learning German through short stories has multiple advantages.
But finding German stories that are easy to read to practice your reading skills can be daunting, especially when combing through websites that are all in German.
What are good sources? Are they free of mistakes? Don’t be concerned! I’ve completed the task for you. Here are the 10 great stories for beginners in German!
Although you may not be able to appreciate some of Goethe’s more complicated works just yet, this story is an excellent introduction to his work. An English version is available to assist you in learning new and unfamiliar words, and the audio version can be used to practice listening and pronunciation.
The story begins with a ferryman who sees ghosts, but what appears to be a “ghost story” eventually turns into a tale of impossible love and the magic that succeeds in making it possible. this story was Goethe’s way of showing how a human soul can manage to become whole and free.
Although this may seem to be overly philosophical, the story’s vocabulary is clear, as are the conflicts it poses. Landscape definitions, the perfect tense (present perfect), and verbs related to movement and location are among the vocabulary and grammar points.
It’s about Hyacinth and Roseblossom, two childhood friends who live happily and in love. When an older man begins telling Hyacinth stories about exotic lands and amazing things he has never seen before, the peace is shattered. Following this, Hyacinth develops the romantic disease of melancholy.
Passive voice and indirect speech are two grammar points that can be learned from this tale. It has a lot of useful words and phrases for voicing feelings and emotions, as well as a lot of fascinating visual representations.
There’s an explanation why the story has been translated into 160 languages. It’s a poetic dream about a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster who have outlived their masters’ usefulness. They decide to fly down to Bremen one by one after realizing they may face a horrible fate. They then decide to live in the town as musicians, but a series of setbacks and unpredictable events hinder their plans.
Since there are so many dialogues in the plot, it’s a great way to learn basic conversational German. It’s also a good way to learn how to organize paragraphs based on cause and effect using terms like denn (because), als (as), and endlich (finally), among others. It’s ideal for beginners since the language is straightforward enough that new words can be inferred from meaning even at an early stage.
Heinrich Böll is one of Germany’s greatest authors and one of the few Nobel laureates in literature. His tale about a fisherman talking about work ethics with a tourist was inspired by a particular period in German history. The German economy was booming in the early 1960s, and “The Happy Fisherman” served to cast doubt on the work ethic associated with that success.
The story is both easy and powerful. It’s a fantastic way to practice using the future tense and vocabulary to convey future hopes and predictions. Its straightforward structure can serve as a good starting point for a story: Someone is peacefully enjoying their life when another person enters and challenges their way of life and philosophy.
An audio reading in the original German is also available.
Scorpion is a film about a man who feels cut off from society because of his appearance. Throughout the plot, he attempts to convince a number of people to recognize him despite his appearance while walking through a city. It’s a lovely parable with a strong moral, the kind that can break your heart. Besides all its other good points, it is a great story to learn how to describe a face and oneself in interesting ways. Additionally, there is a short vocabulary list for the story online, as well as a cute little partial animated version in English.
This story is based on a chapter from the renowned French author Goscinny’s “Le petit Nicolas,” which is best known for the Asterix tales. The writers went to great lengths to retell the story in German that was both clear and grammatically correct. There are also a few simple text comprehension questions included with this story.
If you like this story, there are also two other chapters:
In this retelling of a chapter from Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, deutschalsfremdsprache.ch did a similar feat like with the above French story: keeping the original narrative and restructuring grammar and vocabulary to make for easy German reading. Just like the above story, this PDF comes with some exercises.
Read PDF via deutschalsfremdsprache.ch
These texts were designed to help deaf children improve their vocabulary and reading skills (see my post on Leichte Sprache), but since the stories are brief and to the point, they are also very useful for German learners.
Don’t be discouraged if the website’s presentation seems to be a little dated. This is a treasure trove of easy German short stories, all available in convenient PDF format, many of them even with illustrations.
The odd and witty antics of the Schildbürger (“citizens of Schilda”) are reminiscent of Yiddish Chelm tales or the English-speaking world’s Wise Men of Gotham and can provide fun reading practice in German.
I chose the story of how they designed a peculiar triangular town hall, added in-line translation, and found a wonderful narration on Youtube, all of which, including my own, are all available on YouTube.
‘Dino lernt Deutsch’ by André Klein should definitely not be missed in the selection. It follows a young Sicilian trying to make his way in Germany, with each episode focusing on a different city in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and beyond.
Do you recall the Grimm brothers’ classic fairy tales such as Hänsel und Gretel, Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood), or Rapunzel? I mean who doesn’t like a good challenge, but have you ever tried reading the original in German? Even for Germans, it’s almost impossible. Fortunately, a variety of German fairy tales have been rewritten in plain language on the simplified German platform of the national broadcaster TV channel NDR.
Start reading (or listening) at ndr.de or select one of the following fairy tales:
Perfection comes with practice. The more often you practice and revise what you learn, the faster you will see the results. Only with stories you won’t learn German but reading stories and using the amazing app Readle – learn German, will help you become fluent in no time. You can practice reading, listening, understanding, learning new vocabulary and expressions, grammar, and get entertained by an engaging quiz. Does this sound like a Happy ending for you?!