Deutsche Kinderbücher - AIBU or are a lot of them crap?

(53 Posts)
WidowWadman Sat 28-Jan-12 22:16:30

Talking about younger children's books mostly. Once they're old enough to get James Kruess/Astrid Lindgren (translations, I know, but still) and Michael Ende, there's a whole world of brilliant things to read, but for a 3 year old?

Pixie Bücher are dire and badly written and make me want to stab my eyes out - most of the Sandmann-Gutenacht Geschichten anthologies we've been given by well-meaning relatives are the same. And I simply hate the innaneness of Laura's Stern.

We've got a handful which are ok (in my opinion, and my daughter's):

Die Geschichte vom Kleinen Maulwurf, der wissen wollte wer ihm auf den Kopf gemacht hat.
Frederick (I think it's actually American, but we've got the translation - mice stories, quite sweet)
A few non-fiction things about farming and wood animals and my own translation of Peace at bloody last by Jill godihateyou Murphy

But we need more - I used to do a lot of stehgreif translation of her English books - so reading them in German to her when they actually were in English, but now that she's starting to learn to read I can;t do that anymore, as it's confusing her - she keeps wanting to identify letters and words

So what books can I get for her? She's 3, and loves funny stories which have a little bit of rhyme or toying with language in them, or where she can take over parts and shout them out loud?

Ouluckyduck Sat 28-Jan-12 22:24:21

I'm so with you, they are dire. The only thing they do well is Sachbuecher with lift the flp things. Translations are your best bet really - Julia Donaldson maybe? Also do you know Mama Muh and Petterson und Findus? I also read a lot of traditional Maerchen with mine.

WidowWadman Sat 28-Jan-12 22:43:14

I've heard about Petterson and Findus - but from people who also buy Pixie-Buecher, so was a little wary. But I shall check it out, thanks :-)

Daughter is a huge Julia Donaldson Fan - we have the Grufallo in translation, but I was hoping to find something more original (I really try to avoid translations as they often just don't live up to the original no matter what the source or target language).

It's weird, there's so many good ones, for ages 6 and over, but the only really good German authored ones for younger children I can think of is the Maulwurf.

Ouluckyduck Sat 28-Jan-12 22:47:20

German story books for young children are always so in your face didaktisch which makes them so booooooring. Will have another think though.

Ouluckyduck Sat 28-Jan-12 22:48:41

Thought of one : Mimi books by Dories Doerrie

Ouluckyduck Sat 28-Jan-12 22:51:06

Lieve Baeten Die kleine schlaue Hexe

WidowWadman Sat 28-Jan-12 22:57:57

Oh, Mimi looks good. Thanks - keep the suggestions coming. I wonder whether I should try her with Janosch - they should be "young" enough for her. Not sure how well they've aged.

Ouluckyduck Sat 28-Jan-12 23:00:37

this is nice

Personally I can't stand Janosch, and my children don't either, but it's worth a try.

Ouluckyduck Sat 28-Jan-12 23:01:21

Don't like him

Ouluckyduck Sat 28-Jan-12 23:02:45

I know they are no fun, but my dds loved Conni books.

WidowWadman Sat 28-Jan-12 23:04:58

Oh, I loathe Conni. I really wonder what children see in her? The Helme Heine book looks nice.

Ouluckyduck Sat 28-Jan-12 23:05:33
Ouluckyduck Sat 28-Jan-12 23:07:32

I think it's just because it shows Alltag as they know it, but with the added bonus of Conni always getting/winning everything which in reality doesn't happen.

WidowWadman Sat 28-Jan-12 23:10:28

Exactly! That's what they're like.

All I want books to teach my child at the moment is that they're an enjoyable past time - without having them spell out that there's lessons to be learnt. Guess I better stick to the "zum Lachen" category and hope no life lessons have sneaked in

mousymouseprice Sat 28-Jan-12 23:11:12

astrid lindren has nice fairy tale stories
also good mein bilderbuchschatz a nice selection of shorter and longer illustrated stories.

WidowWadman Sat 28-Jan-12 23:14:36

Some book titles not ideal in an english as dominant language environment

WidowWadman Sat 28-Jan-12 23:17:50
Ouluckyduck Sat 28-Jan-12 23:21:39


noramum Mon 30-Jan-12 14:46:42

Thanks, it seems I am not the only one struggling to get decent ones. I am German and I normally just buy what I know from my childhood.

Books we currently read (DD is 4.5):

Astrid Lindgren
Das Kleine Gespenst
Peterchens Mondfahrt
Grimms Maerchen, the proper old-fashioned version
Biene Maja
Kasimir (a Biber, sorry don't know the English name, who bakes, paints etc. Not long but DD loves him)
Der Drache Kokusnuss (DD is not keen though)
Lauras Stern

We actually bought The Magic Treehouse in German.

What I find frustrating in German bookshops is the attitude of the sales persons. DD always was advanced in hearing stories, we gave her Grimm for her 3rd birthday. But as soon as you tell them the age they steer you towards picture books and ignore that you say your child wants more story not just a couple of sentences with a big picture.

And: I also hate Conni, the perfect, never making a mistake, all-singing-and-dancing Conni, the one who knows everything and is allowed to have every hobby under the sun. The mother who never moans, has a bad day and is always so sickly sweet.... Did you ever listen to one of the Storytapes, grrrr.

mousymouseprice Mon 30-Jan-12 15:32:36

my ds also like benjamin blümchen, but the stories are ever-so-educating.
a big hit is Käpt'n Sharky
and yes yes to the picture books and the attitude that children should not read a word themselves before they are at least 6 yo.

WidowWadman Mon 30-Jan-12 16:07:21

I have just downloaded der Drache Kokosnuss onto my kindle, and a chapter at a time it seems a success.

I thought it was just me!
They are dire, so badly written, so matter of fact, no lovely description, no fantasy, no imagination, it makes me want to scream.

Do agree that they do Sachbücher very well though, and we love the Wimmelbücher by Rotraut Susanne Berner.

BabyGiraffes Wed 01-Feb-12 22:16:07

Actually can't see your problem. My 2 year old loves wieso weshalb warum junior books and my 4 year old is still quite keen on conni books. I have more of a problem with English children's books...

admylin Thu 02-Feb-12 08:23:16

My dc mostly had English books but I can recommend one of the few German books we had on our shelf which was
Ritter Rost, they loved it and listened to the songs loads. We borrowed quite a few of the other Ritter Rost stories from the library too.
Later dd loved Der kleine Vampir - I read them to her and then she listened to them on CD.

BabyGiraffes the Wieso Weshalb Warum books are Sachbücher, which, as has been mentioned, Germans do very well.

We also occasionally read a Conni books, but they are so straightlaced - there's no zing!

It's the imaginative, well-written and fun books that seem to be missing.

battyralphie Thu 02-Feb-12 11:24:14

Noramum - we are obsessed with Casimir at the moment here! Can I join the "Conni hate club"? And what is the point of pixi books?

But I love Wieso Weshalb Warum and a lot of the other characters mentioned above. Lars der kleine Eisbär is missing though from the list. Have you had a look at Hugendubel webpage, so much nicer than Amazon I think....

exexpat Thu 02-Feb-12 11:30:27

The Letters from Felix ones are rather sweet - rabbit travelling round the world, sending letters home. by Annette Langen, I think.

Ouluckyduck Thu 02-Feb-12 11:56:38

I think the concept of Pixi books is great, you can take lots of books withyou without having to carry lots, good for airports, waiting rooms, trains etc. If only the writing was better.

Ouluckyduck Thu 02-Feb-12 11:57:46

Oh and they make a good Mitbringsel and children love to choose one so you can get them a little something that is not sweets for very little money.

noramum Thu 02-Feb-12 14:00:54

I had a look at our bookshelf at home and can add:

Die Wawuschels
Grimms Maerchen
Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivfuehrer and Jim Knopf und die Wilde 13

Did you ever come across Petzi? It is more a cartoon than a storybook but I loved him as a child and will introduce him to DD very soon.

I also agree, Wieso, Weshalb Warum are great books, Junior form 2 onwards and the other from 4/5. For older ones "Frag die Maus" is also nice.

I actually like Pixi-Buecher. I grew up with them and we actually still have some of my old ones. Yes, not a lot of text but I prefer them to the little libraries you have here which is just a picture and hardly any text. We have a stock in the car, in my handbag, in my bag I take when we go shopping/doctor/waiting wherever.

Similar are Lesemaus or Maxi-Buch, A5 size and easy to take with you.

noramum Thu 02-Feb-12 14:04:09

BTW, I just had a similar discussion on a German bi-lingual board about English books.

We found that despite a very good selection of toddler books like Julia Donaldson and obviously great classics like Peter Pan, Roald Dahl and similar, modern books seem to be of cheap quality and focused on fairies and/or princesses for girls and action for boys. So, it goes both ways grin

Ouluckyduck Thu 02-Feb-12 14:19:33

Oooh do you have a link or is it private?

mousymouseprice Thu 02-Feb-12 14:31:44

how could I forget jim knopf and other books by michael ende. also robbi tobbi und das fliewatüt (boy lornsen), and books by james krüss.
the petzi books were fun as well.

noramum Thu 02-Feb-12 15:21:16

The users in this forum are German mums living abroad.

MIFLAW Fri 03-Feb-12 12:57:40

Isn't The Tiger Who Came To Tea originally German? or available in German?

Or have I made that up?

Available in German, yes, as are many English books. But not originally German!

Oooh, just looked it up and it turns out the Judith Kerr was born in Germany, but moved to the UK when her family fled from the Nazis. I never knew that.

ZZZenAgain Fri 03-Feb-12 13:45:08

I remember we had a nice book from the library by Erich Kästner which was a retelling of the Til Eulenspiegel stories with funny pictures. Maybe at 3 your dd is still to young for that but I liked it. Gently humorous.

ZZZenAgain Fri 03-Feb-12 13:51:37

do you think she might like Wickie und die starken Männer? (Vikings) It is not IIRC overtly didactic in tone.

noramum Fri 03-Feb-12 14:35:49

Erich Kaestner really nice. Ich love Emil und die Detektive, Emil und die drei Zwillinge, das doppelte Lottchen and das fliegende Klassenzimmer.

But you have to take into account that the stories are around 70 - 80 years old and some points may sound very strange to a child today. Even when I read them as a child beginning of the 80th, I found a lot of things difficult to relate to. I think these are stories when the children can read themselves and you can discuss these points.

MIFLAW Fri 03-Feb-12 15:15:25


Yes, in fact I had heard that the Tiger Who Came To Tea is basically a parable of the Nazi uprising.

Good old cuddly Nazi tiger!

Still a great story though.

Ouluckyduck Fri 03-Feb-12 20:21:27

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is about Judith Kerr's experiences of having to leave Nazi Germany.

ZZZenAgain Sun 05-Feb-12 18:48:49

IMO there are a lot of very good children's books which were originally written in German. Dd has always found plenty to read in German. The problem is though that OP's dd is only 3 years old and the books on this thread are good but all, I think, for older dc. OP, when dd was that small we lived in Germany but it is a long time ago now and I cannot remember any good books we had for children that small. Maybe a collection of bedtime stories?

noramum Mon 06-Feb-12 16:20:24

ZZZenAgain: I don't really agree. We read a lot of the books mentioned to my DD when she was 3. She actually demanded more story than a normal toddler book can deliver. Obviously every child is different but sometimes it is worth checking how a child reacts to a more complex storybook.

If the OP already tried Laura's Star, her child may be ready as this is a chapter book they recommend here in the UK for 4/5+.

If the OP has a good library around I would just borrow and test various ranges to see what fits her child.

Thusnelda Sat 18-Feb-12 10:51:44

He's from Alsace so more French than German but his books are widely available and superb. Ziraldas Riese, Kein Kuss für Mutter, Das Biest des Monsieur Racine (I always though it was one word: Missjörassin), Die Drei Räuber...
And I did enjoy JANOSCH when I grew up as well as HELME HEINE.
FRIEDRICH KARL WAECHTER? I just found "Brülle ich zum Fenster raus", don't think it's in print though. I loved loved loved "Wir können noch viel zusammen machen" about a little bird, fish and pig that become big friends.

gabid Sat 18-Feb-12 21:04:59

Oh, I find this thread useful, has anyone mentioned Manuel & Didi? Both of mine (3 and 6) love the little stories.


gabid Sat 18-Feb-12 21:11:11

Love Pixi books, small, cheap and can take them everywhere.

goddessofmud Fri 01-Jun-12 22:33:39

Love this one: Amelie Anders

ubwlondon Sun 17-Jun-12 09:37:45

Nulli & priesemuth stories by Matthias Sodtke a big favourite here. Also, Kirsten Boie's Juli stories (from 4). I second Helme Heine's Mullewupp books. And have a look at Gecko magazine for kids, lots of nice picture stories and good quality print.

tourdefrance Fri 10-Aug-12 15:42:22

I guess if you don't like Conni, you won't like Jakob either? He is her little brother and we have a few of those themed to current interest - Jakob und sein Laufrad, Jakob faehrt Zug, Jakob kann dass schon alleine. Shorter than Conni books I think.

Other favourites -
Bobo - stories of a mouse / squirrel character, was a present from some German friends

Wieso, Weshalb, Warum - we have these in both French and German and I would say there is a topic for most interests. We have Eisenbahn, Wald, Koerper, Dinosaurier

Der kleine Maulwurf...

Der blaue Stuhl (translated from French - we also have it in French)

Der Hase mit der roten Nase
Der Katzentanz - both short rhyming books

Bella bellt und Karlchen kocht - about a woman and her dog who swap places for the day

We have a Peterchen und Findus book, but DS1 age 5 rarely has the patience to listen to all of it.

All the above are picture books, but DS1 (and DS2 age 2) enjoy them as they enjoy picture books in English so I see no need to rush on to chapter books.

DS1 has just finished Reception here in the UK and is reading in English. I occassionally point out words in German that are phonetic, eg kann or ask him to find a word in the sentence. But I'm not sure if I should be actively getting him some basic German reading books?

Schnullerbacke Fri 10-Aug-12 20:47:25

I also loathe Connie! Blurgh!

I would recommend the following:
Der kleine Maulwurf
Zilly (Winnie the Witch)
Mama Muh
Lieselotte die Kuh (both cows have a great sense of humour)
Leo Lausemaus

I read these books to both 5 and 3 year old and they both love them.

@ Tour - there are some great books out for beginners. Either the noun words exchanged for pictures so they just read the easier words, some in large print, short stories etc. There is loads to choose from.

sanam2010 Sun 02-Sep-12 15:48:58

Lol, yes i have noticed this. I think some of the translations are good. I much prefer "gruffalo" and "the very hungry caterpillar" in german actually.

As to actual German books, there are some good ones by Paul Maar. We like "Die Maus, die hat Geburtstag heut", it all rhymes and there's lots to learn in terms of memory and animals. I also take a lot English books and just tell the story in German, not as a literal translation but just inspired by the pictures.

AngelaMerkel Sat 15-Sep-12 15:53:10

I'm an English speaker in CH. Today I bought in a floeh markt. Ich weck dick wenn der Fruehling kommt. We've like it (Although my german isn't up to scratch to really pass judgement).
The ISBN is 3-7655-6759-0

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