In this post you will discover why reading short stories in German is a great idea, how best to select reading material, and my recommendations for fantastic short stories to get you from beginner to intermediate reading level.
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My Top Pick!
- 5 short detective stories
- Engaging & interesting characters
- Written for German learners – great for B1/B2 level
Why Read Short Stories in German?
Reading short stories in German is an effective way to improve not only your reading skills, but also your overall level of understanding of German and how it is used in real life situations.
Grammar books are great for giving you a good understanding of grammar and give you a great start in the language. But if you really want to supercharge your progress, reading short stories in German is a sure fire way to do it!
Reading in German will introduce you to the language on a more day-to-day level. Instead of the formality of grammar books, you’ll experience sentences and phrases that can be used in real life. You’ll also encounter everyday speech and sayings, that don’t usually appear in grammar books.
Short stories are great because they can give you a sense of achievement when you’re first starting out.
When you read and become immersed in the story, you’ll find yourself learning without making a conscious effort to do so. It’s an incredibly effective way to get a lot of grammar and vocabulary into your head and to familiarise yourself with sentence structure and grammar.
Choosing Your Short Stories
So hopefully I’ve convinced you that reading short stories in German is a great way to improve your language skills. But what sort of reading material should you be looking for?
The key is to find books that are written for adult German learners, also known as ‘graded readers’. Most books written for native speakers will be too difficult to begin with, but as your reading skills improve more and more books will become available to you. If you try reading German books for children, you’ll probably come away unfulfilled and bored.
So let’s take a look at my favourite short stories in German, written especially for adult German learners.
Café in Berlin (André Klein)
This book series is mentioned a lot on this website, and for good reason. This popular series is known as ‘Dino Lernt Deutsch’, and the first book in the series is ‘Café in Berlin’.
The series follows Italian guy, Dino, who travels around Germany in order to practice his German. Each book sees Dino stay in a different German city, experience the local dialect, customs and events. He even spends a bit of time in Austria and Switzerland.
These books are a great introduction to reading in German. The stories are around A1/A2 level, with interesting and funny plots. At the end of each chapter you’ll find a list of words used in the chapter with translations.
Each book is approximately 100 pages, so definitely manageable for a beginner. The chapters are also short, so you will get a real sense of achievement as you complete each chapter. The books use simplified language, but also include a lot of everyday sayings and idioms. It’s a great way to see German being used in everyday situations.
All the ‘Dino Lernt Deutsch’ short stories are available to buy on Amazon:
- Café in Berlin
- Ferien in Frankfurt
- Karneval in Köln
- Momente in München
- Ahoi aus Hamburg
- Plötzlich in Palermo
- Walzer in Wien
- Zurück in Zurich
- Digital in Dresden
- Schlamassel in Stuttgart
- Lockdown in Liechtenstein
Short Stories in German [for Beginners] (Olly Richards & Alex Rawlings)
This collection of 8 short stories provide a varied reading experience. All 8 stories are very different, ranging from historic, fantasy, sci-fi to contemporary. Each story is fairly short at roughly 25 pages each. They are broken into 3 chapters to keep things manageable and at the end of each chapter is a dictionary of words highlighted in the text.
Aimed at beginner to intermediate level, these books are around A2-B1 level, so are a good step up from the ‘Café in Berlin’ series. The stories aren’t so grounded in reality as Andre Klein’s books so there is less ‘useful’ everyday speech. However the stories are very interesting and offer a different kind of immersion and escapism.
‘Short Stories in German (for Beginners)’ is available to buy on Amazon.
Short Stories in German [for Intermediates] (Olly Richards)
The next collection of 8 short stories by Olly Richards. This book is aimed at intermediate readers, and is graded at B1-B2 level. This is definitely a step up from the previous book and I found it quite challenging but also very satisfying.
Again the stories are all completely different and cover genres including crime, history, thriller and sci-fi. Just like in the previous book, you’ll find a glossary at the end of each chapter and comprehension questions to answer.
‘Short Stories in German (for Intermediates)’ is available to buy on Amazon.
Baumgartner & Momsen (André Klein)
The Baumgartner & Momsen series of 5 short stories follow a crime-fighting duo of police officers as they investigate each fascinating and unique case that comes their way. Each book has a self contained plot, so you can choose to read either one book or the whole collection.
Aimed at intermediate readers, these books are around B1-B2 level. The plots are really interesting and often exciting. The reader doesn’t know how each crime was committed or the motive, so you will follow Kommissar Baumgartner and Kommissarin Momsen as they piece together each crime and eventually reveal how each crime was committed.
There is a lot of banter between the two officers and we get a glimpse into both of the main characters personal lives, so you’ll pick up a lot of every-day speech and idioms.
All the ‘Baumgartner & Momsen’ short stories are available to buy individually and as a 5 book omnibus on Amazon:
Selected Folktales (The Brothers Grimm)
If you’re looking for something a little different, why not try reading some popular fairytales (Märchen). These short stories are wonderful but can be challenging to read. ‘Selected Folktales’ is a collection of 27 fairytales by the Brothers Grimm. The book is presented in a parallel text form, with each page in German facing an English translation page.
Included are some of the well known stories such as Hänsel und Gretel, Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood), Rapunzel and Schneewittchen (Snow White) as well as many lesser known tales including my personal favourite, Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten (The Town Musicians of Bremen).
‘Selected Folktales’ is available to buy on Amazon.