Whether you’re looking for books to improve your German reading comprehension while learning German through another program, or for books that are designed to teach you basic german grammar and words, you’ve come to the right place.
The best books to learn German with are Netzwerk Grammatik A1, A2, and B1, and Menschen A1, A2, and B1. German can be learned using textbooks or leisure books. There are a variety of book types that are suitable for any German learning level from A1 to C2.
To learn about some of the best, highly reviewed German learning textbooks and leisure reading books in the German language that are at levels A1 to B1, continue reading!
Studying German Learning Textbooks for Basic Grammar and Language Understanding
Before moving on to leisure reading books that are graded to your level, you should first read an autonomous textbook at your comprehensive level in place of or in addition to an online or university German learning course.
If using only textbooks to learn basic German grammar and language without the help of a German course, you should especially pay attention to the reviews of these books because it will help you determine the quality of the textbook. The higher quality the textbook is when it comes to content, the easier it will become for you to learn German.
The German course will then be an additional resource for you to audibly hear the language and practice speaking it so that you can better learn the pronunciation and grammar rules, but many German learning textbooks come with an audio CD for this added benefit.
If you’re a true beginner and have never studied German before, you’ll want to start with a level A1, then proceed with A2, and then B1. We will list our recommendations for textbooks at these grade levels below, then you’ll be well on your way to continue on the learning process with levels B2, C1, C2, and later proficient levels.
These basic A1-B1 textbooks will focus on teaching you basic German pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and phrases, all described in the English language. If you’re not in a German course, this will be one of the first resources to pick up and will be your most useful source for learning German. If you are taking a course, you can use these textbooks as an additional resource to study outside of class.
Best A1-B1 Level German Learning Textbooks
A1 level is the most basic level of learning German and is where all true beginners start when first learning the German language. A1-level books will teach basic grammar rules, vocabulary, and some pronunciations.
German Grammar for Beginners is one of the most basic beginning textbooks for those wanting to learn German which encompasses A1 to B1, but mostly A1 and A2. It comes with a workbook for testing and quizzing yourself, as well as a free audio download code so that you can learn the correct pronunciations of German words and phrases.
The book is made up of 30 total lessons, so you can learn basic German Grammar within 30 days, making it the easiest start to your German learning journey. Inside the workbook are over 300 grammar exercises that can help get you started on becoming a fluent german speaker.
Many people like this book because it is straight to the point and gives you a basic overview of grammar rules. You’ll want a more comprehensive book that goes over the grammar exceptions for later studies.
German Beginner Workbook is a level A1 and A2 German grammar book to help new learners understand basic vocabulary and daily-life sentences to learn German. There are some challenging reading, speaking, and writing tasks to help readers know basic conversational phrases and sentences that they may use in everyday life.
This book is especially useful for those learning German for a temporary vacation or trip to Germany who wants to learn the basics for interacting with locals and service workers. If you want to learn more than daily life expressions, you may want to read this in conjunction with another textbook.
Begegnungen A1+ is a communicative textbook for German learners and teachers to help you learn basic German. Many people like this because it is inexpensive and comprehensive. There are a plethora of exercises included in this book, making it interactive and helping you put what you learned to the test.
It also includes some grammar tables and tons of vocabulary to help you get started. Keep in mind, however, that this is meant to be used by teachers or students that study with teachers, so it is geared toward the teacher rather than the student.
Many teachers ask students to order their own copies, as it has a lot of useful information in them, so it is still helpful for self-learners. You’ll want to read this in conjunction with another textbook or after you’ve studied level A1 to A2 books, as it is written in German, but there is a glossary with English, French, and Spanish translations included in the book.
Hueber’s publisher also has a German learning book series for levels A1 to B1 called Menschen. These books are entirely in German and have several pictures, listening exercises, and videos included to help you learn.
Why Leisure Reading is Important for Learning German
One of the best ways to improve your comprehension and understanding of basic German, in addition to all the textbook information, grammar rules, and vocabulary, is to read leisure books in that language that are simplified to the level in which you are at.
These could include German children’s books, which are written to help young German children learn to read, so they are simplified to make reading simple for those just starting to learn German. There are also some classic German novels that have been simplified to be read easily by new readers at the various early reading grades, as well as some translations of popular books you may have already read.
The reason why it’s a good idea to read books in German for leisure in addition to your textbooks, course material, and assignments is that your language input (what you take in) is more important than your language output (what you give out). This is because we learn more about a language by consuming content and conversation in that language than we do actually using it through speaking or writing. Most of our speaking and writing skills come from what we learn from others speaking or writing in that language.
This is why reading stories and fiction written in German is so important to help us learn and be able to speak German, in addition to listening to German audiobooks, podcasts, or television shows.
In this article, we’ll focus on some of the best reading options for your particular reading level because reading will have the greatest impact on improving your German fluency. You’ll first need to have a basic understanding of German vocabulary and grammar in order to be able to read German, even at the most basic A1 level. You should be able to start reading some A1-level German leisure reading books after a few weeks of German lessons.
Best A1-B1 Level German Leisure Reading Books
Short Stories in German for Beginners is full of great German short stories for anyone who is at levels A1 to B1. You’ll discover some new vocabulary words in this book, which will help enhance your learning while still being simple enough for you to understand the stories.
There are some comprehension questions and some summaries throughout the book that helps new readers along the way. This book will help you to move swiftly from your basic German comprehension skill to more intermediate skills.
Die Kleine Raupe Nimmersat is the German translation of the popular American children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Reading a children’s book like this translated into German is perfect for those who are at level A1 or A2 and a great refresher for those who are at level B1 but haven’t practiced for a while. This is because the text is already simplified to make it easy for children to read or comprehend when it is read to them.
It’s especially helpful if you’ve read the English version already because you’ll already be familiar with the story and can use that along with the pictures to help you to further comprehend the German language that you’ve begun to learn.
Der Kleine Prinz is a German translation of The Little Prince, a classic novella. This is great for those who are at level A2 or B1, as it is written for young children but not as simplified as picture books. Despite being aimed at young children, it’s a sweet story for those of all ages that is simple enough for beginners but experienced German learners to understand.
Die unendliche Geschichte is the German edition and translation of Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story. Ende was a famous German writer from the 20th century who wrote books for older children and teenagers. This is a classic that many are already familiar with and that has been translated into a huge and growing list of languages, so those who have already read or heard the English edition will have a greater understanding of the German edition as a whole.
You’ll need to be at either an A2 or B1 level to better comprehend this story, but it won’t be too difficult to grasp, as it will only introduce a few new phrases or vocabulary. Just have your German glossary or Google Translate ready in case you get stuck.
Tintenherz is the German translation of the classic novel Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. You’ll need to be at a B1 level or more to have a greater comprehension of this novel, but this will be a huge step in bringing your understanding of German from a beginning level to an intermediate level.
Reading a full-length novel can be a challenge for new learners, but it will have a huge influence on your fluency. Tintenherz is great for fantasy lovers and will help readers to immerse themselves into a captivating world while they increase their German reading comprehension skills.
Harry Potter Und der Stein der Weisen is the German edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Nearly all of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are translated into German, as they are an international treasure and classic, so any of the Harry Potter books are a great read to help improve your German comprehension and fluency.
This book will be especially helpful if you’ve already read the Harry Potter series in English, as you will already know the basic order of events that happen in the book. The fantasy story and writing are simple enough for those of almost any age to understand and enjoy, while still being complex enough for you to learn a lot of German. You’ll want to be at a B1 level or higher to better comprehend this book.
Die Kleine Hexe is the German translation of The Little Witch, a classic story enjoyed around the world that originated in Germany. Not only will you learn more about and increase your comprehension of the German language through reading this classic story, but you will be able to understand why this book is a German classic.
Knowing the classic, learning the story, and how the story is described in German will give you conversation material to discuss with native Germans, who appreciate the book’s legacy. It is a great option for German learners at the A2 level.
Momo is another story written by Michael Ende, the popular German writer of classic novels. This fascinating fantasy novel written for teens is equally enjoyable for adults, while still having a fairly basic vocabulary with beginning phrases, making it simple enough for B1 level German learners. Immerse yourself in this German classic by reading it in its original, untranslated language.
Die Verwandlung is the German translation of The Metamorphosis, a classic novella by Franz Kafka. It is an easy read and has a simple vocabulary, grammar, and sentences, making it perfect for beginner readers who are at levels A1 and A2. The unusual plot is sure to keep your interest, encouraging you to read more and further your understanding of German grammar and language.