Learning German with stories is one of the most effective ways to increase your vocabulary and rapidly make sense of grammar in action. Don’t believe me? There’s actually some interesting brain research on how languages affect our cerebral pathways.
But finding easy German short stories to practice your reading skills can be daunting, especially when combing through websites that are all in German. What are good sources? Do they actually use good German? Are they error-free? Fear not! I’ve done the work for you.
In a previous post about simple German short stories for beginners I’ve showcased a handful of literary short stories, mostly from post-war times which are interesting enough but not too difficult for beginners. However, even these required a certain level of German to make sense of.
That’s why, in today’s post, I’d like to share a few stories with you that are even simpler and more accessible, so that even if you’ve just started out learning German, you can begin reading right away.
12 Fairytales in Easy German Language
Who doesn’t remember the classic fairy-tales by the Grimm brothers like Hänsel und Gretel, Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood) or Rapunzel? But if you’ve ever tried reading the original in German, you’ll know that most versions of these stories (especially those found on free websites) are told in a very archaic and baroque German, which is not just hard but almost impossible to fathom for novice learners.
Luckily the simplified German portal of national broadcaster NDR has a number of German fairy-tales rewritten in Einfache Sprache (simple language), so even absolute beginners can enjoy these classic tales. Bonus: They all come with slow professional audio narration, so you don’t have to puzzle over pronunciation.
Start reading (or listening) at ndr.de or select one of the following fairy-tales:
- Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood)
- Schneewittchen und die sieben Zwerge
- Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten
- Der Wolf und die sieben Geißlein
- Der Hase und der Igel
- Hänsel und Gretel
- Frau Holle
- Die 3 Federn
- Des Teufels rußiger Bruder
Nick, His Friends And A Photographer, by René Goscinny (And 2 Other Stories)
This story is told after a chapter from “Le petit Nicolas” by the popular French author Goscinny, world-renown for the Asterix stories. The authors of deutschalsfremdsprache.ch went to great lengths to retell the story using very simple but grammatically perfect German. This story even comes with a few basic text comprehension questions.
Read PDF via: deutschalsfremdsprache.ch
If you like this story, there are also two other chapters:
Tom Sawyer And The Garden Fence, by Mark Twain (And 7 Other Stories)
In this retelling of a chapter from Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, the 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
Other chapters in this series include:
- Tom Sawyer kommt zu spät
- Tom Sawyer auf dem Friedhof
- Tom Sawyer auf der Insel
- Tom Sawyer und die Gerichtsverhandlung
- Tom Sawyer auf Schatzsuche
- Tom Sawyer in der Höhle
- Tom Sawyer findet einen Schatz
All of these stories come with some exercises, without an answer key though. If you’d like to get the correct answers to all the exercises the owners of this website sell a CD containing all their worksheets plus answers. It’s not that cheap but a great way to support the authors of these excellent resources.
The Greedy Dog, by Erasmus Alberus (And Tons Of Other Stories)
Karin Hohlweg, a teacher of the deaf in Halberstadt, has created a content-rich website with tons of easy German short stories in a wide range of categories. You’ll find stories about animals, seasons, quizzes, fables and classic ballads
While these texts are originally intended to help deaf children boost their vocabulary and reading skills (see my post on Leichte Sprache), they are actually really helpful for German learners as well, since the stories are very short and to the point.
The presentation of the website may look a bit outdated a first, but don’t be discouraged. This is a treasure trove of easy German short stories, all available in convenvient PDF format, many of them even with illustrations.
Here’s an example: a fable entitled “The Greedy Dog”, originally by Erasmus Alberus, retold in easy German: Read PDF via: sos-halberstadt.bildung-lsa.de
update: the link isn’t available anymore but you can find other fables from their site here.
Bremen Lebenshilfe, a registered association that is dedicated to helping the mentally handicapped, has a little website in simplified German with easy German short stories.
The stories cost a few euros each, but they also provide a free sample which showcases the barrier-free layout and fitting illustrations. While originally designed for people with handicap, I think these short can be an excellent way for beginner German learners to start reading.
Read PDF via: leichte-sprache.de
Learn German With Stories: Dino lernt Deutsch
Last but not least, I’d like to point you to my own story series for German learners titled Dino lernt Deutsch. It’s about a young man from Sicily that tries to find his way in Germany, in each episode exploring one city in Germany, Austria or Switzerland. You can get the whole series on paperback, Kindle, iBooks, or as MOBI/EPUB download directly from our site. There’s also an option to get the first four books in a nice bundle (including a sweet discount). Here’s a free preview: