The best German children's books you can read in English

I grew up reading German children’s books in German with my parents. Today, I live in the United States with my husband and children. While my children are bilingual, neither my husband nor my children’s friends speak any German.

 We love sharing our favorite German language children’s books with others though. This is why I have rounded up my favorite books by German authors that you can read in English. Some of these books have been available in English for a quite while, while others were only recently translated. A few popular movies such as the NeverEnding Story and the Parent Trap were based on German books and you may not have even realized that they are originally German.

If you are learning German, these children’s books are a fun way to start to read German. This will be much more fun than just learning vocabulary!

As always: this article is not sponsored by the manufacturer and represents my own opinion. Some text and photos may include partner links. I only recommend products that I genuinely love. If you buy something through our links, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. This way you support my work to provide you with useful information. Thank you for your support! 


1. Otfried Preusler

Otfried Preussler is a giant of German children’s literature and a master of writing timeless and adventurous stories. His books are for kids aged six and up. “The Little Witch” tells the story of a girl learning the hard way what it means to be a “good” witch. In “The Robber Hotzenplotz” a bad man steals a grandma’s coffee grinder and two boys named Kasperl and Seppel set off to capture him. Otfried Preussler’s stories are great chapter books for early readers.

2. Helme Heine

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3. Janosch

Janosch’s imagery and surreal logic charm young and old alike. In “The Trip to Panama” a bear and a tiger lead a dreamy and lazy life – until a wooden crate comes floating on a nearby river. “Panama” is written on it, and it smells like bananas. The bear and tiger set off to find this wonderful smelling country. Their long and winding quest leads them to the best place on Earth: their own home. 

4. Erich Kästner

Did you love the 1998 Hollywood blockbuster “The Parent Trap“? This movie is based on Erich Kästners book. In this story, two twin girls that were separated at birth meet each other for the first time at a summer camp, and decide to make a switch. Heading to Berlin? Most of Erich Kästners books will take you back to Germany in the late 1920s. These books are perfect for early readers.

5. Marcus Pfister

One book that you may have heard and never realized that it was originally published in German is “The Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister. The book with the beautiful illustrations is a story about the beauty of sharing.

6. Hans de Beer

8. Michael Ende

If you loved the movie “The NeverEnding Story” during your youth, you can read Michael Ende’s masterpiece that inspired the film. Following the movie’s success, some of his other works were also translated into English. Michael Ende’s book “Momo” deals with the concept of time and criticizes efficiency and stress. 

9. Annette Langen

In “Letters from Felix“, Sophie loses her stuffed Rabbit, Felix, at the airport when returning home from a family vacation. Sophie is devastated but soon, letters from Felix begin to arrive from all around the world!

10. Cornelia Funke

Cornelia Funke has sometimes been called the “German J.K Rowling”.  Her books were published during the Harry Potter mania but still managed to be a great success.  Inkheart is based on the idea that a person could have the ability to read characters in a book into existence! But it comes at a cost. Inkspell is the second books of this trilogy.

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