While there might be a plethora of children’s classics to read, both old and new, it is always an adventure to “travel” overseas with literature that has reached an entirely different audience. While you are more likely to see adult fiction translated, more and more children’s books are being translated as well. While many of the values being guided to the young reader are similar, sometimes the varying ways in which they are told will be much different. German stories are well known from the Brothers Grimm stories, and these stories and styles have been passed down and helped create other classics. Here are 9 other German classics:
1. Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver by Michael Ende
Written during the Nazi era to contrast the racist and horrific views being proffered at the time by the Third Reich, Ende wrote a book about the adventures of Jim Button, a baby who was sold at birth. Following Jim as he ages, the book provides great insight into a fantastical world with many touches of reality.
2. The Little Witch by Otfried Preussler
The Little Witch is a story of learning what it means to use your powers for good. What does it mean to be a good witch? You will need to read and find out!
3. The Trip to Panama by Janosch
Little Bear and Little Tiger set off on a crate labeled Panama, towards a destination they are hoping leads to adventure and excitement.
4. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
This semi-autobiographical children’s book is about Anna and her Jewish family. After seeing Hitler’s face on posters all over her city, she starts to wonder what is happening, and then when her father disappears, her whole world begins changing.
5. Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner
Emil and the Detectives is a book that still challenges the norms, as it does not try to moralize, rather letting children decide for themselves what they see as bad and good. Set in Berlin, it follows Emil and the devious cast of characters he comes across.
6. Max and Moritz by Wilhelm Busch
Told in rhyming couplets, Busch created a classic filled with black humor and sardonic wit. The story follows the terrible duo of Max and Moritz and the mischief they get into.
7. Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffmann
First published in 1845, this has become a true German classic, both in popularity and influence. Written in rhyme with illustrations, Struwwelpeter teaches about the consequences of those who misbehave.
8. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Inkheart is part of a trilogy by Funke that presents a modern German epic in which Meggie is stuck in the middle of adventures she has only read about. It just so happens that an evil ruler escapes the boundaries of fiction and lands in their living room! Meggie must do what she can to get him back to where he came from before it’s too late.
9. The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers
“A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen and a half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest,” starts the narrator in this adorable adventure story.
Which of these stories have you read? Do you know of any other German classic children’s tales?
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