German Stories for Beginners (10 Collections of 150+ Stories)

The words "German stories for beginners" hand written on a wall next to an image of a woman in a white dress reading a book.

German stories are a fantastic language learning resource for beginners.

With their growth in popularity in recent years, language learners can find a huge number of German stories for beginners and intermediate learners, but unfortunately the quality is wildly dramatic.

In this article, I’ll compare some of the most popular German short stories, books, and graded readers so you can chart your own German reading plan!

But first, let’s go over how you can use stories to learn German.

Learning German with stories for beginners

Over the past decade, the theory of comprehensible input in language learning has seen a huge resurgence since it was first introduced by linguist Stephen Krashen in the 1980s.

However many people, including me, have seen 4 decades of opposing evidence that shows that input alone isn’t enough.

No matter how you want to use German stories in your language learning journey, here are a few tips from both sides of the debate that will help you tremendously.

  1. Decide if you’re reading German stories extensively or intensively. If you understand 98% of the words on every page (which is easy enough to count), feel free to fly that through that book! [source] However, if you understand less than that? You’ll likely want to be looking up words as you go and reading much more slowly. Either way is fine and has its advantages–but you’ll want to plan a strategy before jumping into your new German stories.
  2. Consider reviewing new vocabulary with spaced repetition. If you want new vocabulary to stick, consider writing it down and occasionally revisiting it. I love apps like Memrise and Anki because they take on a lot of the organizational load in language learning, but you could even just take notes that you intend to study once a week for a certain amount of time. Whatever works for you!
  3. Add writing prompts. To really work on production, write summaries or journal entry after every German story (or chapter of each story). Want some creative language learning writing prompts? Check out our list here.
  4. Have fun. You’ll be a lot more motivated to keep up with your language studies if you’re choosing German stories you actually like, so above all follow your heart. 

For more foreign language reading strategies, check out our complete evidence-based guide.

German Stories for Beginners

Format: Bilingual Short Stories

Genre: Children’s / Fairy Tales

Length: 10 short stories

Language Level: Beginner grammar, intermediate vocabulary

Price: Free online

2 Sentence Summary: These bilingual (and free) classic tales use illustrations and optional translations to help readers make sense of the texts. While much of the vocabulary is low-frequency and specific to the genre, they’re a fun way to dip your toes into some intensive reading in German.

Language Learning Notes: Have fun with these! While you might not need most of these super-specific words in day-to-day conversations, they’re a nice start for anyone who is looking forward to reading German literature as their level increases.

Format: Short Stories

Genre: Children’s / Fairy Tales

Length: 12 short stories, written + audio

Language Level: Beginner grammar, intermediate vocabulary

Price: Free online

2 Sentence Summary: Want to keep practicing the vocabulary specific to fantasy stories? These stories in “leichter sprache” (simplified language”) will help you build on your progress from Fabel Cottage German stories.

Language Learning Notes: The nice thing about Fabel Cottage (which was listed above) is how the text is bilingual at a click. This site, on the flip side, is monolingual German–but with audio files. Use it to level up your vocabulary if fairy tales are something that interests you!

Dino Lernt Deutsch German Stories

Format: 4 short books

Genre: Contemporary short fiction

Length: 50 stories / 351 pages

Language Level: Upper beginner, around A2

Price: $20

2 Sentence Summary: Want to practice reading more practical German? The Dino series is full of realistic, practical conversations that are easy to read and extensive enough to get you to the next level.

Language Learning Notes: These books are great. Consider mining them for full sentences and using them in combination with a German flashcard app like Anki.

Format: 4 short books

Genre: Contemporary short fiction

Length: 50 stories / 351 pages

Language Level: lower intermediate

Price: $5/set Kindle or $7/each print

2 Sentence Summary: André Klein, author of the super-popular Dino Lernt Deutsch series, has released a choose-your-own-adventure-styled fantasy series! Participate in sword fights, dodge monsters, and try to skirt death…. auf Deutsch!

Language Learning Notes: If you read this list of German short stories in the order in which the collections are listed here, this book will build on the grammar and vocabulary of the earlier series so you can move forward with confidence (and fun).

The cover of German Short Stories for Beginners by LingoMastery

Format: Books with short stories

Genre: Contemporary short fiction 

Length: Around 20 stories / 150-175pg per book

Language Level: B1-B2

Price: $15

2 Sentence Summary: Want to step it up? The LingoMastery books provide simple-to-follow short stories written for learners, but with increasingly complicated time tenses and grammatical structures.

Language Learning Notes: While even the “beginner” books in the LingoMastery series are more intermediate-leveled, they’re more practical than some of their fantasy books on this list and a good next-step from the Dino books.

The cover of New Penguin Parallel Text for German

Format: Bilingual Short Stories

Genre: Classic short fiction

Length: 8 stories / 203pg

Language Level: Intermediate

Price: $13

2 Sentence Summary: Want to try a challenge? These real short stories will be a challenge for any German learner, but with their side-by-side English translation can be a useful tool in furthering your understanding of the language and it’s grammar.

Language Learning Notes: These German stories will be less-practical as pleasure-reads and more practical as active learning exercises. If your goal is to read at a high level of German, you’ll likely enjoy the challenge.

Hörbücher on Spotify

Format: Audiobooks

Genre: Misc

Length: n/a

Language Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Price: free with Spotify subscription

2 Sentence Summary: Want to hear stories read to you? Search “hörbücher” (“audiobooks”) on Spotify and take your pick!

Language Learning Notes: There are hundreds (if not thousands) of German story audiobooks on Spotify, but here are a few I recommend:

German short stories by Olly Richards

Format: Book of Short Stories

Genre: Short fiction (mysteries, scifi, dramas, etc)

Length: 8 stories / 150pg

Language Level: A2-B1

Price: $

2 Sentence Summary: Olly Richard’s Short Stories books are translations of stories perfect for very low-level beginners. They combine high-frequency vocabulary and stories with predictable plots, plus include quizzes and vocabulary lists for comprehension.

Language Learning Notes: Olly’s book of German short stories is probably the easiest of all the resources on the list. However, all of his story books are mass-translated from an original English text, so the big downside is once you’ve read them in one language you’re probably not going to be as interested in picking it up in another.

Format: Short stories

Genre: 1800s short fiction

Length: 40+ short stories

Language Level: Intermediate

Price: free online

2 Sentence Summary: This site screams early-internet nostalgia, but hopefully it never goes down. Navigate between English and German versions, quizzes, illustrations, and wordlists in this literary grab-bag.

Language Learning Notes: Don’t let the difficult navigation on this site scare you off. There are a ton of amazing resources here for both independent learners and teachers to help incorporate German stories into any language learning plan.

Format: Magazines, novels, and audiobooks

Genre: Fiction and non-fiction

Length: n/a

Language Level: Intermediate-Advanced

Price: free with account creation

2 Sentence Summary: Want to slowly move to native-level content? Check out the massive literature collection from the Goethe Institute, no matter where you are in the world.

Language Learning Notes: When you’re ready to move onto materials written for natives, this library is a gem. Did you know most popular magazines are written at a B1/B2 level? Make sure to check them out as you graduate to harder materials, or see their free German learning resources until then!

Going Beyond Short Stories for Learning German

Want more German learning fun? Here are a few other articles we suggest checking out:

  1. Best Apps for Learning German
  2. Language Exchange Topics for Any Language
  3. Our Master Guide for Learning German On A Budget
German stories for Beginner Learners

Multilingual Marissa

I'm Marissa, and not only did I fail out of high school Spanish, but I also managed to forget my native language (Polish) in the process. After 10 years of establishing my career in the arts I decided to give language learning one last chance, and many years (and languages) later, I now help others online learn or relearn languages. I now speak English, Spanish, French, Catalan, Portuguese and am relearning Polish, my heritage language. I've also studied Italian, German, and other languages to low- or intermediate-levels for fun. If you want to relearn a language, I'd love to help!

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2 Responses

  1. Love the collection 🙂 Thanks for posting. You can also try childhood-stories.com. Its free and contains over 200 simple German + English dual language short stories and many with slow German audio 🙂 Most of the stories are one page in length and quite fun to read.

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