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Holiday Books for Children: With German Orientation

by asdf Sun Dec 4th, 2011 at 10:41:43 AM EST

This is a call for help. I need to provide some holiday (namely, Christmas) presents for two young ladies, ages 13 and 11, who come from an American family with a strong German heritage. They're good readers, and need some age-appropriate books with a German orientation. The older likes to ski, the younger likes art, both are "world citizens."

My pathetic ideas so far:

  • Heidi, an adult translation.
  • Biography of <famous german girl ski racer>
  • Adventure book along the lines of The Moonstone or The Riddle of the Sands, but with a German (not British anti-German) focus.
  • Bauhaus, an overview of German art scene in the 1920s.
  • History of the Wandervogel movement. Or is there a current handbook?
  • Something similar to the Swallows and Amazons series, again, from Germany. What did German kids read in the 1930s? (Obviously avoiding propaganda...)
  • Something with German on one page and equivalent English translation on the opposite page. They don't read any German, but will be pressed to starting right about now.

Suggestions? Ideally this would be supplied via Amazon or similar.

amazon has several classic books with english on one side of the page, & german on the other

or you could get them "my first 1000 words in german"

by stevesim on Sun Dec 4th, 2011 at 11:48:14 AM EST
If they really like reading, Germanic-myth-based fantasy could work.

Start them on Tolkien with The Hobbit.

I haven't read this, but it might be of interest.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2011 at 03:44:24 PM EST
Got a copies of Der Konig der Lowen and Sindbad der Seefahrer you could have, except the postage to Germany would be more than the books cost.  

If they haven't read the Harry Potter series all of them have been translated.  Ditto with the Paolini series.

Bowdlerized "child-safe" editions of Grimm's Fairy Tales are easily found.  Can hardly get more German.

Astrid Lindgren's books have been translated into German, tho' you wouldn't know that if you searched Amazon using "Pippi Longstocking (German edition.)"  

Powell's Books in Portland had used children's books in good condition in German the last time I was in there (2002.)  Might be worth an email asking them for a list and prices.  

Taschen has an outlet in New York City.  No idea what they have.

The market for books with a modern foreign language on one side and the translation on the facing page is too small for a publisher to bother with.  There might be CDs of German children's songs that have an insert with the German lyrics and translations available.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Dec 4th, 2011 at 04:12:55 PM EST
I could recommend plenty of books for that age-group, but so few of them have been translated. Michael Ende is good, and there are translations of The Neverending Story and Momo. Otfried Preussler's Krabat. These three are thrilling and all children I know find it difficult to make a pause while reading them.

I don't know why the 1930's, but most books by Erich Kästner ought to be translated.

Ask again when they have learned to read German. :-)

by Katrin on Sun Dec 4th, 2011 at 04:23:59 PM EST
The big problem Americans have with learning languages isn't we're stupid or disdainful of other languages.  The problem is we never - well, hardly ever - get to use it.  Even in foreign countries the first mistake or hesitation and people start talking English at you because they want to practice their foreign language skills.

If you grow up learning a language from your parents or, worse, grandparents people look at you funny since you're using words, phrases, slang, and grammatical constructions that "no longer exist."  Examples, in Swedish the Formal ni (you) has been replaced almost entirely by du, det (that) and mig (me) have lost their final consonant.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Dec 4th, 2011 at 05:49:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've never thought it is stupidity (and I wouldn't expect children of 11 or 13 to be able to read in a foreign language anyway unless they grow up bilingual). But I am always surprised that so little is translated.
by Katrin on Sun Dec 4th, 2011 at 06:24:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And our grasp of English is so poor.  "Grammar" is an elderly, female ancestor.
by rifek on Thu Dec 15th, 2011 at 09:30:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I sometimes still use the nickname falkor...

by cagatacos on Sun Dec 4th, 2011 at 07:02:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not sure, if they are supposed to be in German or in English. If German - I agree with Michael Ende. Momo is a great story also for adults. Anything by Erich Kaestner. Fliegende Klassenzimmer, Doppelte Lottchen.

My father used to read Wilhelm Matthießen: Das Rote U, which he had read as a Child. Gripping story.  (would have been read in the 30ies)

Timm Thaler (also known as The Legend of Tim Tyler: The Boy Who Lost His Laugh)

Great and scary story

Die rote Zora und ihre Bande: Kurt Held (would have been read in the 30ies)

Die Kinder aus Nr. 67: Lisa Tetzner

Als Hitler das rosa Kaninchen stahl: Judith Kerr (long version!)

Das kleine Gespenst: Otfried Preußler (one of my personal favorites as a child)

But most of these books have not been translated into English. However, with some basic German, some of them are easily readable for some one with maybe one or two years of German at 11 and they are rewarding enough in themselves.

Good luck

some german female artists:


by PeWi on Sun Dec 4th, 2011 at 08:38:47 PM EST
Thanks for the suggestions so far. To be clear, I am looking for books in English, translated from German...
by asdf on Sun Dec 4th, 2011 at 10:07:23 PM EST
by rootless2 on Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 12:08:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is a list of children's books that have won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award:

The award is given to an American publisher for a children's book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originally published in a foreign language in a foreign country, and subsequently translated into English and published in the United States.

Quite a number translated from German.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 01:58:52 AM EST
My girls enjoyed Kai Meyer's Flowing Queen trilogy [known as "Dark Reflections" trilogy in the US]. This synopsis of the climactic third volume may help you decide if it's for your young friends :

Merle, the Flowing Queen and Vermithrax the stone lion are flying to ask Lord Light for help to save Venice. As they soar over the ravaged landscape, they see Egyptians raising the dead to add to their mummy armies. They plunge into the depths of Hell, only to discover that Lord Light is not who he seems, and that Junipa has had a terrible operation performed on her. But perhaps the unknown power of the Stone Light - radiating intensity from the centre of Hell - can help them escape? They can only hope so as they flee the enraged inhabitants of Hell...Meanwhile, in a Venice overrun with mummies, Serafin the Master Thief has to turn Master Assassin. His target - the Pharoah himself. With a powerful sphinx and a mermaid on his side, can this daring plot possibly succeed?

At Amazon : volume 1, the Water Mirror (US name) (UK name is "The flowing queen")

The other volumes of the trilogy are "The glass word" and "The stone light".

Fun anecdote : I know the American editor. She had a fight with her publisher over the title "The Flowing Queen". They thought it sounded too menstrual or something. Hence the renaming.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 10:39:19 AM EST
The Thief Lord was pretty good (oddly, it's also set in Venice, and includes magical elements, though it's not hardcore fantasy like Kai Meyer's.)

I see rootless has recommended her Inkheart books, which my younger daughter found for herself after we read the Thief Lord.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 10:47:51 AM EST
The orange Reclam books have German and a foreign language side by side. Max and Moritz for example.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 11:54:20 AM EST
Not books, but 11-13 is an age range where boardgames start to become enjoyable, and there is a pretty strong German tradition for games appropriate to that age range (so strong, in fact, that this complexity/duration range is called "Eurogames" in the American jargon). Pandemic is one that's loads of fun. Power Grid and Carcassonne are both quite simple to learn and reasonably, respectively very, challenging to master.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 04:20:44 PM EST
Thanks for all the suggestions!
by asdf on Mon Dec 5th, 2011 at 07:19:02 PM EST
More of Ende:


And that is perhaps a bit peculiar or old, but the age of the protagonist would fit:


by IM on Thu Dec 8th, 2011 at 04:22:40 PM EST

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