Wenn man Bücher für Kinder liest, kann man das auf Englisch »Story Time« nennen.

What is the natural translation of this phrase into German?

I am ready to settle on "Märchenstunde", but want human feedback.

  • Yeah "Märchenstunde" is a possibility but some old fashioned word. Maybe you can use this phrase "[Es ist] Zeit für Geschichten" '[It is] time for some stories'. That would come close to Story Time. Or just ask whether the kids want to listen to some stories. That is actually a better way in my perspective because you give them the opportunity to say yes or no. But this should not be an adulting advice. Oh btw if you want to use Märchenstunde when writing or translating texts or books it will totally fit. It is more about to distinguish between written and talking about it. Mar 8, 2017 at 17:59
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    @Tom-OliverHeidel: The term »Märchenstunde« never before was used so frequently like now. This is not what I would call »old fashioned«. Please have a look at the Ngram in my answer: german.stackexchange.com/a/35235/1487 Mar 8, 2017 at 18:05
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    It's Märchenstunde but as there are a lot of non-fairytale books for children out in the wild, the term Vorlesestunde had become common, too.
    – Janka
    Mar 8, 2017 at 18:05
  • @Hubert Schölnast yes I know I looked it up as well but as Janka also mentioned it is not only about "Märchen" anymore. Former I tried to say that Märchenstunde is used more in a written form than it is said. Ngram ist just scanning/ taking articles books etc in perspective. Mar 8, 2017 at 18:10
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    Martin, could you define the context, please? I have a hunch that you might need a more case-by-case answer than a simple one-fits-all suggestion.
    – Stephie
    Mar 8, 2017 at 20:34

2 Answers 2


Although Märchenstunde is a more direct translation of story time and not bound to a specific time of day, Gutenachtgeschichte, in its various ways of writing exceeds the Märchenstunde usage by far. It does, however, refer to the last story of the day that children would be listening to in bed.

Even if it is not a 100% translation, I think it needs mentioning here. My kids always had a Gutenachtgeschichte rather than a Märchenstunde.

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  • 1
    But if a bookshop or library offers "story time" events, that's definitively not a "Gutenachtgeschichte". The context may require something different.
    – Stephie
    Mar 8, 2017 at 20:32
  • Auch morgens um 11:00 im Kindergarten ist es keine Gutenachtgeschichte. Und sicher keine Gute - Nacht - Geschichte. Mar 8, 2017 at 20:55
  • But Gutenachtgeschichte denotes the story, whereas Märchenstunde denotes the session (as does story time). While thematically related, I disagree Gutenachtgeschichte can be considered a translation of story time. Mar 9, 2017 at 6:21

The correct term is



(something you can read or tell) can be in German:

  • Geschichte
  • Artikel
  • Mär
  • Märchen
  • Schwank
  • Handlung
  • (and some other words)

but story also can be (level in a building):

  • Geschoß, Geschoss
  • Stockwerk
  • Etage
  • (and some other words)

In this context (a story to be read to a child from a book that contains such stories) it is »Märchen« (diminutive of »Mär«, but »Mär« is outdated)


This normally is:

  • Zeit

So the verbatim translation of story time would be:


and you really can use this word in a normal conversation. But


is more common. Both words are correct, and before 1950 Märchenzeit was more frequent used than Märchenstunde, as you can see in this Ngram

Ngram Märchenzeit, Märchenstunde


Stunde = hour

  • 5
    Note Märchenstunde in German is often used as a sarcastic notion of someone, especially politicians, telling "stories" in public. I checked ngrams and a considerably large amount of hits refers to such usage. Also Märchenstunde used to be the title of a comedy series on German TV - Another large amount of hits might refer to this.
    – tofro
    Mar 8, 2017 at 18:53
  • @tofro Both really good points.
    – lejonet
    Mar 8, 2017 at 19:21

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