Learn German with Reading Practice: 28 Resources [Beginner to Advanced]
You can’t just read anything and expect your German to improve.
You’ve got to find that perfect blend of German vocabulary, model grammar and stories that hold your attention.
Lucky for you, we’ve found 28 excellent reading materials you can dig into, with something for every level and interest!
Keep scrolling for a diverse range of materials for German reading practice. With this little library, you’ll be ready to take your German to its next chapter.
Don’t forget to read with a notebook or your favorite flashcard app handy to add new vocabulary!
- Websites for Children’s Stories
- Children’s Books
- “Die Grille und die Raupe” (“The Cricket and the Caterpillar”)
- “Das Doppelte Lottchen” (“The Double Lottchen”)
- “Die Reise seines Lebens” (“The Journey of His Life”)
- “Maxi Hund und Geduld” (“Maxi Dog and Patience”)
- “Die Schattenjäger” (“The Shadow Hunter”)
- “500 Flachwitze und Scherzfragen” (“500 Witty Cracks and Jokes”)
- “400 Flachwitze: Die doofsten Witze, die es gibt!” (“400 Jokes: The Silliest Jokes There Are!”)
- The “Harry Potter” Series
- E-books in German
Slow German’s Blog
Slow German is a learning program that lets you listen to real German spoken by native speakers, but at a slower pace than normal. The site also offers a blog that can help advance your reading skills.
The blog posts are organized by difficulty and by topic, so you can always find something new to read that’s right at your level and that talks about something that’s interesting to you.
Plus, the blog posts come with PDF and podcast versions you can read or listen to when you’re on the go.
You might already know about the popular video and audio learning resource GermanPod101. Along with their great German podcasts, they have a blog that’s particularly helpful for improving your reading comprehension and vocabulary.
The blog itself is written in English, but it’s full of German vocabulary, phrases and unique cultural tips. There are often printables, visuals or videos alongside the blogs that make them more memorable.
In addition to their blog and podcast, GermanPod101 offers dedicated language lessons from expert educators designed to be fun and culturally relevant. The lessons also come with additional reading material like detailed PDF notes.
Claudi um die Welt (Claudia Around the World)
This blog is a very distinct and interesting one that follows the journey of a German girl named Claudi across the globe.
There’s an interactive map on the site that lets you pick the locations that interest you and read the blog posts she wrote about each location.
Personally, I love following blogs run by individuals who share their personality, life story and views. If that’s you too, then Claudi’s blog is the blog you’ll want to follow.
The posts on this site aren’t too long and are always fun to read!
Your Daily German
If you’ve ever wanted to find a website where a native German speaker teaches you German for free, Your Daily German is the place to go.
Not only is new content uploaded almost daily, but you can also follow a course of study that the creator of the website has developed for German learners of all levels.
By using this website and its plethora of resources, you can develop your German in all areas and give yourself a boost in grammar, vocabulary, slang or whatever other skill you feel might be lacking.
For complete beginners, there’s a section on absolute essentials that’ll take you through everything you need to know to start learning German quickly and efficiently.
Websites for Children’s Stories
Children’s stories are great for learners young and old. They typically include a lot of repetition, basic vocabulary and short, simple sentences.
Plus, you’re probably already familiar with many of the stories offered on the websites below, so it’ll be easier for you to follow along.
Grimms Märchen (Grimm’s Fairytales)
This site includes many of the Grimm Brothers’ Märchen (fairytales) in their original German texts.
You can choose familiar stories such as “Rapunzel” or “Rotkäppchen” (“Little Red Riding Hood”) or lesser-known stories such as “Der süße Brei” (“Sweet Porridge”) and “Hans im Glück” (“Hans in Luck”).
This is a fantastic resource for all sorts of German stories including Weihnachtsgeschichten (Christmas stories) and Fabeln (fables).
These stories also conveniently offer an age range next to the links to the stories, which you can use to determine which one is best for your current reading level.
Gute Nacht Geschichten (Good Night Stories)
This resource consists of more than 400 German bedtime stories.
You can search for specific stories or choose from the sidebars, which include “Beliebteste Gutenachtgeschichten” (“most popular bedtime stories”) and “Neuste Gutenachtgeschichten” (“newest bedtime stories”).
Max und Moritz (Max and Moritz)
Max und Moritz is a series of stories about two tricksters. In Germany, they aim to teach children about morality and obedience. But for you, they can teach you more about lesser-known German grammar and words.
This website is particularly helpful because it has a “dual language” format, which means you can read the story in German right next to the English version. The stories also come with great images which make it easier to follow along.
Märchen-Geschichten-Podcast (Fairytale Stories Podcast)
Are you more interested in hearing German stories than reading them? Then check out this podcast on the Hallo:Eltern (Hello:Family) blog, which you can download to your computer or smartphone or listen to online.
The podcast offers a variety of fairytales read out loud in German, including a few classics such as “Schneewittchen” (“Snow White”) and “Aschenputtel” (“Cinderella”).
German books for kids are another great place to start learning the language, no matter your age. They offer simple syntax and grammar while also giving valuable vocabulary like animal names or words for common household objects.
With these titles, growing your vocabulary almost becomes an afterthought after simply reading for the story and enjoyment.
“Die Grille und die Raupe” (“The Cricket and the Caterpillar”)
“Die Grille und die Raupe” is a perfect children’s book to start with, because it contains pictures so you can follow the story even if you don’t perfectly understand every word.
It’s a cute story that can kickstart your German learning and teach you a few basic words and sentence structures.
“Das Doppelte Lottchen” (“The Double Lottchen”)
This famous German story follows twins who want their divorced parents to fall back in love.
“Das Doppelte Lottchen” offers a fantastic vocabulary exercise. The words are simple but will stretch any beginner’s vocabulary.
By the end of the book there’s enough recycling of words that an intermediate student could be reading with no dictionary.
“Die Reise seines Lebens” (“The Journey of His Life”)
“Die Reise seines Lebens” was written specifically for beginning German students and is designed to allow the reader to follow the narrative without a dictionary.
In this book, a boy named Karl Schmidt travels to Germany but witnesses a theft! This creates quite an interesting plot to follow as he tries to deal with the sticky situation.
The story is interesting and helps motivate the reader to keep reading while learning from the content. It’s also extraordinarily beneficial that it was designed for language learners because the vocabulary and sentence structure are optimized for your understanding.
“Maxi Hund und Geduld” (“Maxi Dog and Patience”)
As with the other children’s books we’ve looked at, “Maxi Hund und Geduld” offers variety, easy syntax and popular vocabulary.
In this book, the reader gets to follow a dog named Maxi and his journey to becoming more patient.
It’s a quick, fun story and sure to offer entertainment to all readers.
“Die Schattenjäger” (“The Shadow Hunter”)
This is a fun children’s story that’s a little longer and more difficult than the ones above.
In this book, you’ll be able to dive into 136 pages of adventure and fiction written by well-known children’s books author Andreas Schlüter.
Throughout the pages of “Die Schattenjäger,” you’ll see many illustrations that’ll help you enjoy and understand every part of the story.
“500 Flachwitze und Scherzfragen” (“500 Witty Cracks and Jokes”)
If you like jokes and want to be able to cut up with some of your German friends or language partners, this book is perfect for you.
By reading German jokes, you’ll pick up a ton of useful, casual vocabulary and grammar that’ll help you sound like you learned the language in Germany rather than from a textbook.
In addition to the laid-back content, a joke book offers you a quick power workout for your German. Even when you only have 5 or 10 minutes to spare, you can still learn something useful!
“400 Flachwitze: Die doofsten Witze, die es gibt!” (“400 Jokes: The Silliest Jokes There Are!”)
Can’t get enough German jokes?
For those of you who like dumb jokes, this will be the perfect book to begin to express yourself better in German and learn some new words to goof around with.
As with the book above, you’ll be learning German in short quips and cracks, which gives you the opportunity to really get to know a very different type of German that you can use in completely different contexts.
The “Harry Potter” Series
“Harry Potter” is one of the most famous books ever written, so it’s been translated into tons of languages—and the translations are very well done, so you don’t have to worry about learning awkward German.
One of the best parts about reading fantasy stories in German is that you get exposed to both everyday and uncommon words all while being engaged in a great story.
A bonus when reading very well-known books like “Harry Potter” is that you probably know the general story already. So even if you don’t know a specific German word, you can still follow the story.
Watching the movies is a great follow-up to reading the books. You can find a few clips of the first “Harry Potter” movie on FluentU. While watching the clips, you can turn on the German subtitles (and English, if you need) and read along with the video to get additional reading practice.
All of the videos on FluentU come with interactive transcripts and subtitles, giving you something that most reading materials won’t: an instant translation and audio pronunciation of any word you come across.
The program even has built-in flashcard creation and practice tools, with adaptive review quizzes to help you retain the new vocab you learn.
German magazines offer digestible, entertaining reads that give you a window right into the culture of Germany.
They’re also a good way to pick up on specialized and hobby-centric vocabulary. As you read, keep track of new words or terms you come across in a notebook or an app.
Sport Bild (Sports Image)
Sports are a widely popular topic around the world. As language learners, this topic gives us the ability to learn about other people and communicate with them in a way that’s familiar and inviting.
Reading Sport Bild keeps you up-to-date on sports in Germany and gives you new vocabulary that you can use to discuss sports—football more than any other.
The articles are normally just a couple of paragraphs, so reading them isn’t a big time commitment but still packs a punch by giving you specialized vocabulary and colloquial German. It’s a full language workshop inside a sports magazine!
Bild der Frau (Women’s View)
This magazine is geared toward women and specifically focuses on health, relationships and news. The articles are very short but are jam-packed with new vocabulary and interesting content.
The health portion of the magazine will give you new vocabulary concerning food and exercise, which are two very common topics of conversation. By exposing yourself to this content through reading, you’ll prepare to discuss it with native speakers later on.
Für Sie (For Her)
Für Sie is a women’s and family magazine that’ll help you learn everyday vocabulary that you’ll find immediately useful.
One of the most important aspects of language learning is making sure that your vocabulary study revolves around words that you use very frequently. By doing this, you’ll make sure that you can actually apply the vocabulary you’re learning in real life.
Für Sie gives you the vocabulary that you need to talk about common topics like health, family and relationships. That means you’ll be able to elevate your day-to-day conversations by using high-frequency vocabulary and accurate syntax.
Zeit Wissen (Knowledge of the Times)
This magazine is for the science or tech fan looking for the latest information about what’s going on in these areas. It’s a fantastic way to read and learn terms about technology and science while still enjoying yourself.
These articles do run a bit longer than many of the others on this list. This can be a good or a bad thing depending on your proficiency level—upper intermediate and advanced learners in particular might get the most out of this one.
Der Spiegel (The Mirror)
Der Spiegel is one of the foremost news magazines in the world, reporting on affairs of national and global significance and featuring strong investigative journalism. It tends to lean left on the political spectrum and is like a German blend of Time and Newsweek.
German learners will pick up high-level analytical language, political terminology and a broad-based awareness of current events.
Being able to contribute insights on controversial issues and international politics will allow you to participate in deeper conversations way beyond small talk.
E-books in German
After skimming through magazines, your German will soon be ready for longer, more complex German stories. Take a look below for the best e-books for learning German by reading!
“Des Spielers Tod” (“Death of the Players”)
“Des Spielers Tod” is the third book in a detective story written specifically for language learners, which means that it provides helpful hints and definitions without giving too much away.
The goal is to struggle with the readings at first so that you can later read them more easily.
In this book, you’ll find vocabulary with definitions when necessary and a full-length, engaging detective story to help you grow your vocabulary. You’ll learn common words such as those you might often hear on TV or in the papers.
“Die Dritte Hand” (“The Third Hand”)
Another detective story, “Die Dritte Hand” will offer similar benefits to “Des Spielers Tod” as it’s also written for German learners and is the second book in the series.
One of the major benefits of reading this book after “Des Spielers Tod” is that you’ll encounter many of the main characters again, which means that you can follow the story better knowing who they are and a bit about their personalities.
“Karneval in Köln” (“Carnival in Cologne”)
This is part of a series written for German learners and is designed to contain practical vocabulary and sentence structure.
This fun book follows a man who gets to experience the Cologne Carnival firsthand. It’s a crazy experience and is sure to teach the reader something new about German culture through its discussion about the carnival.
It’s medium length, but long enough to read for a couple hours without stopping. It’s relatively easy to consume without consulting a dictionary but challenging enough to learn something new.
If you enjoy this book, you can read the others in the series, too, in order to get the benefit of reading multiple installments with the same set of characters.
“Tod in der Oper” (“Death at the Opera”)
This book was written as a short story for German language learners and is sure to help intermediate to low-advanced learners with vocabulary and some new sentence structure.
“Tod in Der Oper” is about two competing singers who both want the lead role in an opera that’s being performed. The hero of the book, who’s also in several others in this same series, must solve the case when there’s a murder.
Most advanced learners will find this book to be fairly easy, but can still learn a lot by sitting down and reading without a dictionary. Context clues will help you learn new vocabulary and keep your grammar fresh and accurate.
This book series follows two detectives whose characters are developed more and more from book to book. The vocabulary is simple and easy to understand, so intermediate or advanced students could possibly read the book without a dictionary and still learn many new words from context.
This is a full-length book, which means you can read for long periods of time and reap the benefits of extensive reading.
“Kandis Zucker” (“Sugar Candy”)
This is a very different type of book, but is nonetheless helpful and intriguing. At only 19 pages, this is the shortest e-book here—but also the most creative and abstract.
This book is comprised of seven short stories that are written to blend the styles of poetry and prose, with less concern for the plot than for the words and form of the book itself.
Students who are looking for a challenge should grab this e-book. Try to read it without constantly consulting a dictionary. The abstract nature makes it more difficult to understand, but you’ll learn many new useful words if you dedicate yourself to it.
This book is short enough that you can read it multiple times and digest more and more each time, which is an extraordinarily beneficial practice for language learners.
By using the carefully picked resources above, you can expand your vocabulary while learning about things that interest you or getting lost in a good story.
I hope you enjoy your German reading practice with some of these resources and grow your German knowledge along the way!
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