Last Updated on September 25, 2023
What to take your child to the library (in German in our case) is a hot topic for parents. It is good if the child reads actively, but if you have a boy or, as in my case, a boy, a boy and one more boy, then the task of not only teaching reading, but getting reading has a new level.
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We will talk about mostly modern books, which you can find in the library. As you understand, there are too many books, it is physically impossible to read them all. Comments, additions, questions and requests are welcome.
I would like to make a detailed list by ages and topics, but I am afraid that then you will have to wait for it in twenty years. Therefore, I will periodically write about what has already come across, and then somehow I will make a systematic list. It is clear that my estimates are subjective, as well as age. There is a focus towards a boy audience and girls who won’t “swallow” a book just because it has a horse on the cover or a ballerina in pink.
In age estimation, you can rely on Antolin. As recommendations for better / worse, this program will not help you.
What is Antolin
*Because it is important for many libraries in Germany to have specific book data in order to quickly find it in the catalog, affiliate links to Amazon are given in the text. This means that I will receive a micro commission if you buy them there (a few cents when numerous additional conditions are met). New books in Germany cost the same in all stores (the price is printed on the code).
For the library’s search find a ISBN on Amazon site.
Links are often given to the Kindle, as this section of Amazon shows search results most adequately. If you decide to buy something, do not forget to choose the correct edition format.
Grade 3-4 (8-10 years old)
Grade 3-4 is a difficult age when a child is already reading, but so far mostly under duress, and only a few persons, usually girls, are already beginning to swallow stacks of books and read everything, including food labels, just to read.
The school will no longer improve the quality of reading, fluency should be trained at home.
At this age, it is important not to turn away from reading. This is the main task, otherwise no further efforts will help. Therefore, I recommend forgetting about moral education, education of taste and intelligence, mandatory lists, etc. The child should be interested, and he should learn to read fluently. If comics cope with this task, then let there be comics, sometimes just mix them with detective stories or science fiction. If your child like detective stories, great. Jokes, books based on cartoons or computer games… In a word, this age is the time of fast and high-calorie book food, biblio-fast-food.
For unsure readers
If there are problems with reading comprehension in German and in general with reading a disaster – successful manuals were recommended in the topic German grades 1-2, grades 3-4.
Books for preschoolers as simple books for unsure readers
On the one hand, these books should be well suited for beginners to read – lots of pictures, little text.
the font is often small
content may already be boring for 8-9 year olds.
The most promising in this regard are educational series from Ravensburger, Mayer, Tessloff. We’re trying, but we don’t have high hopes.
There are also exceptions with a large font, for example Janosch Ach, so schön ist Panama Link* – good story, more for older preschoolers and early schoolers. For modern children it may be a little boring, because it is too calm. If it is not interesting for your child, it makes sense to watch the cartoon, since this book is widely known and popular in Germany.
Large classical publishing houses that produce a large amount of children’s literature have their own series for beginners – from grades 1 to 4.
There is such a problem with series that publishing houses regularly come up with new ones, and the library still has old ones.
Many of the older editions may not suit you (the key word is “boys”). It will be about all sorts of ponies, dogs, primitive situations, uninteresting heroes. Typical, besides girls and ponies, are knights, football and pirates. Unfortunately, you won’t immediately understand how this or that series suits you, you just need to take different things and watch how it goes at home.
Please note that there are books:
where all letters are capital. The purpose of this escapes me somehow. Large letters blend together more because the spacing between lines is not large enough.
where the syllables are colored blue and red according to the Mildenberger method or black and blue. If you do not have this method at school, it is better to take such books only at the very beginning, after the 2nd grade it is no longer worth it.
where some of the words are replaced by pictures. This is also just for beginners. For example, the Bildermaus (Löwe) series. Link*
where the text is divided into parts for the parent and for the child – for reading in turn. The parent part is larger and the text is smaller there. For example, books of cbj: Erst ich ein Stück, dann du Link*
I will not talk about all the series – there are too many of them along with old series (Lesen mit Conny, Leserabe, Leselöwen, Lesemaus …) – in each you can find at least something suitable for the topic. Focus on the inscriptions with the grade on the spine.
I will tell you about the non-standard editions that interested me.
Superleser! in four levels.
Topics related to the nature, science, current events or children’s interests: for example, a great book about a knight’s castle, books about volcanoes, sharks, Star wars, football, and even Angela Merkel and Queen Elizabeth.
Publisher Duden (Cornelsen)
Dein Lesestart – educational books
Duden is now a trademark, but the publishing house Cornelsen, since Duden went bankrupt. Duden’s children’s books have not impressed me so far, but there may be exceptions.
Was ist was. Erstens Lesen
No matter how much we prepared for presentations, the classic Was ist was books always turned out to be the best – in terms of presentation and a very accurate selection of information (exactly what you need, without unnecessary information and many words and speculation). DK books are the second in terms of level, but there you have to pay attention, which serie you choose.
Now Was ist was also offering educational books for beginners. I haven’t seen them in our library yet, but I am sure they are good.
Wieso? Weshalb? Warum? Erstleser – educational books for beginners.
New line of books. I wonder why they all suddenly decided to publish such books – when my elders learned to read, such literature could not be found.
Die Schule der magischen Tiere ermittelt – for fans of the main series (more on that below) or the movie.
Various publishing houses
Books about Lego. There is usually a large Lego logo on the cover. These books have little text, they are based on Lego cartoons – Ninjago, Star Wars.
To search type the words Lego plus the name of the series (e.g. Ninjago) plus Leseanfänger.
Disney cartoon books. Links* Searching is the same: Disney + name of cartoon + Leseanfänger.
A series of various comics for beginners. Including comics with cartoon characters about the Vikings, about the cat Winston, comics based on Minecraft.
I will try to go by age, that is, in the order in which I would offer books to children.
Exclamation points mark our favorites.
Some books have an upper age limit, others will be interesting even at an older age.
Series “School of Magical Beasts” (Schule der magischen Tiere), Margit Auer – 7-9 years old
Extremely popular series with active merchandising. Therefore, be careful not to confuse the actual original books with books that exploit the theme. For example, there are shortened versions for those who are learning to read, and side stories with the same characters and illustrator.
The series is very well suited for reading training, as there are many pictures and relatively little text.
The point of the series is that children get animals that become their friends and helpers. The plot is quite simple, and if not for the additional decoration in the form of animals, then these would be books on the themes “School and Friendship”. Even the bad characters here are actually good, just confused or suffering. My children didn’t like it because we took them at an older age.
! Die Olchis, Erhard Dietl – 7-9 years old
Olchis are green creatures that live in the trash. This is a very nice family, with their relationship. The quirky adventures and idiosyncratic trash-themed humor ensure this rather old series has a steady influx of boy readers. My children liked it. It makes no sense to read the entire series – it is unlikely that someone will become such a big fan.
Series Die Muskeltiere, Ute Krause – 7-9 years old
Cute rodents, adventure and humor. Not for everyone, because not everyone likes to read about animals. What I saw in the form of a cartoon was also not bad.
Robber Hotzenplotz (Räuber Hotzenplotz), Otfried Preußler – 7-9 years old
This is a classic German book, so in some form you need to get acquainted with it, at least in the form of a film. Pretty simple text to read, funny plot for kids.
Series The Little Dragon Coconut (Der kleine Drache Kokossnuss), Siegner – 7-9 years old
Good stories on educational topics for about the third grade. Since this is a rather long series, see which parts have the best reviews.
Series The magical tree house (Das magische Baumhaus), Mary Pope Osborne – 8-9 years old
Educational topics (travel, dinosaurs, space, history, etc.) in the form of adventures (fascinating and so-so). There are a lot of books, so the quality is very different. It makes sense to first look at reviews in stores, and then take a specific book. Link*
By my boys Dragon Coconut went better than a Tree house. But my children prefer educational topics in their pure form of scientific and educational literature.
! Never press the red button (Niemals den roten Knopf drücken), Kati Naumann – 9-10 years old
Another educational series disguised as an adventure. Interesting, but no real excitement
Series Please, do not open! … (Bitte nicht öffnen!), Charlotte Habersack – 8-10 years old
The hero receives a strange package that says “Do not open! Bites (or Slimy! or Flammable! etc.). The package contains a toy that comes to life, which starts all sorts of adventures. My children rated it as: readable, can be spent time, but you might as well not read it.
! Paul Maar Sams Series – from 9 years old
Classic. The author’s main achievement is the Sams series, but you may like other books as well.
Boys are very likely to like Sams – he is a rare naughty. At the same time, the books are very educational, they simply educate an adult and this is not intrusive.
I strongly recommend the first and second books, further if desired. Audiobook is also very well.
I was attracted to Sams by forced listening to an audiobook on the second part by an osteopath. It turned out that the book is deeper than it seemed to me at first sight.
Sams is a fantastic character that resembles a very naive, simple-minded child, but also has a magical function: it fulfills a limited number of desires. He understands many things quite literally, which is part of the humor. That’s why I didn’t like this book at first: I don’t like primitive “cake in the face” humor.
But it turned out that the point is not in stupid antics, but in finding oneself. A person gets used to the blinders and the boundaries in which he grows up. Sams, who knows how to fulfill desires, pushes these boundaries: he literally understands everything that is said to him, and educates the main character through his carefully calculated pranks, although the situation should have been the opposite – Sams plays the role of a child at first glance.
Series Real Heroes (Echte Helden), Habersack – 9-11 years old
The series is based on real events, but does not reproduce them literally. In each book, the child finds himself in a dangerous situation – on a train that needs to be stopped, to save a friend from an ice crevice, and so on.
! Greg’s Tagebuch, Jeff Kinney
In my opinion, it would be better to read the series from the 5th grade, but in reality, many children take it already in the 3rd grade. Well suited for reading training – large print, easy plot.
My first son read the entire series. He was not a fan, but the books were for “having a good time and being in the know when talking with classmates.”
The second son read the first part, said that he liked it, and does not want to read further.
! Harry Potter 1-3 – from 9 years old
9-10 years ols – time of Harry Potter. Don’t feed them prematurely. 10 years is the best time for the first part. German libraries generally designate a series for an older age. Libraries contain simple editions without a lot of pictures.
If you want to have a home Harry, then I do not get tired of advertising publications with illustrations by Jim Kay.
1 part: in German*, in English*,
In German part 2*, part 3*,
In English part 2*, part 3*. The English version in Germany is cheaper than the German one.
Series Rico und Oscar, Andreas Steinhöfel – from 10 years old
The alternatively gifted Rico and the autistic, highly gifted Oscar become friends and solve crimes in Berlin. There is a mother around – a “not quite decent lady” who works in a club, as it turns out, somewhere there is a husband who beat her, a criminal acquaintance who helps her hide, and other specific characters.
The story is told on behalf of Rico, on the one hand, ingenuous, on the other, very observant.
Would I recommend the series – I’m not sure. On the one hand, it is fascinating and non-standard and one wants to know what happened next. On the other hand, there is a lot of adult overtones. In any case, it seems to me that it is for older children, but rather for reading aloud in turn, so that you can understand how the child perceives.
Ghostbusters series (Gespensterjäger), Cornelia Funke – 9-10 years old
Teenager Tom becomes a ghost hunter. It can be quite ominous in places, so not for impressionable children.
Do you have any more questions? Use comments ⇓ or private communication form ⇨
Endless Series of Detectives
! Seiries Jacky Marrone, Franziska Biermann – 7-9 years old Link*
Simple pleasant children’s detective stories, where the fox is the detective. My elder liked it (they read it at school on the reading day), the younger did not want to read.
There are also a number of books with animal detectives. On the one hand, they all are the same, this is passing literature. On the other hand, it can unexpectedly catch on, like this fox of my elder. So it make sense at least to try.
Among the current ones:
Kwiatkowski, Jürgen Banscherus
I haven’t read it, but the series is old and popular, still in print. Large font, pictures.
Classic series Die drei ??? (hero boys) and Die drei!!! (heroine girls) – age depends on edition
There are options for the very beginners, more difficult and for 10-12 years old. Which book to choose – look at the reviews, there are a lot of them.
My sons didn’t like.
Penny Pepper, Ulrike Rylance
A version for girls in the style of the Greg’s Diary and on detective themes.
! Enid Blyton.
Classic of classic. Series Five friends and a dog.
Despite advanced age of these books and outdated realities, children continue to read or listen with interest. Original books are rather for older children than the previous series, but now a Junior variant and comics have already been released.
A note to the purists: Blyton, like any author of other times, has some (very little) unfortunate phrases that modern people may perceive as an insult to numerous special groups. As a teacher and as a mother, I can guarantee you that children do not learn this from books. They learn this from parents, schools and other people and much faster than they learn good things from books.
For girls there are horses in assortment, small horses aka ponies and horned horses aka unicorns. The standard set also includes ballerinas, fairies and witches.
I give a small list of popular and more original. I have not too much time for all of them.
Petronella Apfelmus, Sabine Städing – 6-8 years old.
The new family moves into a mill where an apple fairy lives in the garden. The fairy does not trust people and banished the miller who was about to cut down the garden. Her plan is to exile this family as well.
The wild chicks (Die Wilden Hühner), Cornelia Funke.
Books about a group of girlfriends from the German classic Cornelia Funke. For 8-9 years old
Magical Pharmacy (Duftapotheke), Anna Ruhe
Children find a secret room with vials in the villa.
Wishing Magic Bookshop (Der zauberhafte Wunschbuchladen), Katja Frixe
to be continued…