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What are the German language equivalents of Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl etc?

Books that are so good that kids long to read them, doesn't matter which age range.

I'd immediately ignore "Emil and the Detectives" and "Heidi" as these are very well known tales.

  • 4
    Enid Blyton is actually quite popular in Germany as well, so it's not that good an example if you're looking for regional children's literature ;) Commented May 31, 2011 at 9:10
  • 5
    Since this is a "big list" type of question, I suggest community wiki and one answer per post. Feel free to disagree. :)
    – Stovner
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 9:15
  • Actually this is kind of a hard question. It's difficult to judge what's known outside one's country, not only when it comes to books but also music, movies etc.
    – ladybug
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 9:53
  • @ladybug: At least from an English speaker's point of view, if you can buy a 'normal' copy of a book (not a special import) or if a non DE wikipedia article exists for a book then I'd assume it's probably reasonably well known. Commented May 31, 2011 at 10:20
  • 1
    Although the viewpoints in the article are a bit too extreme IMO - there is small talk in German everyday life, too - it is fascinating reading. Bookmarking, thanks for this.
    – Pekka
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 11:51

15 Answers 15


Der Autor Otfried Preußler hat eine Reihe von exzellenten Kinderbüchern verfasst, u. a.

  • Der kleine Wassermann
  • Die kleine Hexe
  • Der Räuber Hotzenplotz
  • Das kleine Gespenst
  • Krabat
  • 2
    +1 für den kleinen Wassermann. Commented May 31, 2011 at 9:50
  • 5
    Just want to add that "Krabat" is not for little children. It's quite different from his other books in that way.
    – fzwo
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 9:22
  • 2
    And one of the lesser-known but not to be neglected Preussler characters is Hörbe mit dem großen Hut.
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 7:55

I'd say that all Michael Ende books except "The Neverending Story" satisfies your criteria (because "The Neverending Story" is too well known). At least in Norway "Momo" and "Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer" are largely unheard of.

  • The Neverending Story is a must... I need to read it, I only saw the old movie :D
    – Alenanno
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 9:39
  • 5
    Other lovely books by Michael Ende are: "Das Traumfresserchen", "Der Lindwurm und der Schmetterling oder Der seltsame Tausch" and "Der satanarchäolügenialkohöllische Wunschpunsch".
    – ladybug
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 12:14
  • I agree with "Momo" specifically and Michael Ende generally since my German speaking friends always made these exact recommendations when I asked this question. Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 13:15

Christine Nöstlinger is an award winning author children books. I remember being read a translation of "Wir pfeifen auf den Gurkenkönig" and enjoying it immensely.


Even though "Emil und die Detektive" may be well-known outside of Germany (didn't even know that until now ^^), some of Erich Kästner's other children's books might be not:

  • Das fliegende Klassenzimmer
  • Die Konferenz der Tiere
  • Der kleine Mann
  • Der kleine Mann und die kleine Miss
  • Der 35. Mai oder Konrad reitet in die Südsee

The last three were among my favourite books as a kid. ;-)

  • 1
    "Die Konferenz der Tiere" wurde kürzlich erst verfilmt.
    – FUZxxl
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 9:55
  • For some unknown reason, only EATD is known. Commented May 31, 2011 at 12:08
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    What about "Das doppelte Lottchen"? Haven't mentioned it because I guessed it didn't match your criteria.
    – ladybug
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 12:11
  • 1
    Don't forget "Pünktchen und Anton". Had this as an audio drama on cassette and loved it as a child. I still know the prologue by heart. Kästner considered this his best children's book.
    – fzwo
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 9:26
  • @ladybug Don't know how (un-)known "Das doppelte Lottchen" actually is outside Germany - but at least it didn't escape the attention of the Disney studios. The German title of that movie version is "Die Vermähling ihrer Eltern geben bekannt"
    – Matthias
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 20:18

Well known in Germany but almost unknown elsewhere are the stories about the Sams by Paul Maar.

The first three books "Eine Woche voller Samstage", "Am Samstag kam das Sams zurück", and "Neue Punkte für das Sams" are great fun reading.

For non-native readers the ambiguous usage of language by the Sams may be a challenge.


I recommend Wilhelm Busch - Max und Moritz. I can still recite most of the book word for word.


I'd also like to mention "Vom kleinen Maulwurf, der wissen wollte, wer ihm auf den Kopf gemacht hat." which is one of the more odd childrens books.

  • Definitely +1 for this one. Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 15:11
  • A cool book for the anal stage, but note that this is for very young children.
    – Phira
    Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 18:59

There are a lot of well-known children's books by Mira Lobe, in particular "Bimbulli" and "Das kleine Ich-bin-Ich". (In sharp contrast to modern children's series that aim to sell a lot of merchandise, these books include a set of instructions to the parents to actually sew the main character for their children.)

Age: 5-7


If comics and illustrated stories count I’d like to add some (from the past 40ish years), most of which also come as movies, TV series or audio plays and as toy merchandise:

  • Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffmann – a cruel classic.
  • Oh, wie schön ist Panama and other stories by Janosch – You can hardly consider yourself German if you don’t know what a Tigerente is (except if you’re old).
  • Freunde, Mullewapp, Tabaluga, Sauerkraut and other books by Helme Heine
  • Werner by Röttger „Brösel“ Feldmann – It’s a challenge due to written (Northern) dialects, and not that suitable for younger kids.
  • Käpt’n Blaubär, Das Kleine Arschloch and other stories (for older kids and grown-ups) by Walter Moers
  • Fix und Foxi by Rolf Kauka
  • Ritter Rost by Jörg Hilbert / Felix Janas; includes music.
  • Urmel stories by Max Kruse. The puppet version by Augsburger Puppenkiste actually may be better known than the books.
  • Pumuckl by Ellis Kaut. The original radio plays and television series are more popular, though.
  • Benjamin Blümchen and Bibi Blocksberg by Elfie Donnelly (who’s actually British). These are mostly known from audio plays.
  • Ein Fall für TKKG by Rolf Kalmuczak. Also maybe better known from the audio plays.
  • Prinzessin Lillifee by Monika Finsterbusch – pink as hell, like German Hello Kitty
  • Käpt’n Sharky by Jutta Langreuter / Silvio Neuendorf – male counterpart to Lillie
  • Die Olchis by Erhard Dietl
  • Biene Maja originally books by Walter Bonsels, but most only know the animated series – as a German you know the lyrics to the theme song.
  • Wickie by Runer Jonsson (who’s Swedish) – like Maja best know from a 1970s anime adaptation.
  • Felix by Annette Langen
  • Bobo Siebenschläfer by Markus Osterwalder

Asterix, Lucky Luke and others may not be as well known in English-speaking countries, but are popular throughout Europe and they are not of German origin, but French/Belgian.

There’s also a variety of Wimmelbücher (e.g. by Ali Mitgutsch) without text that are not as popular in other countries as far as I know, with the notable exception of Where’s Wally? (or Waldo). Likewise cheap 10 cm × 10 cm Pixi-Bücher are well known among German children and parents. They feature some original characters like Pixi, Conni and Petzi, but also other better known stories that have been shortened or edited to fit the format.

Recent book series, not comic


Sigrid Heuck: Pony, Bär und Apfelbaum

A classic for very young children where part of the words are replaced by pictures so the small child can read part of the words. There are more books in this series.


I also loved the books of Peter Abraham as a child (especially "Das Schulgespenst", "Der Affenstern" and "Weshalb bekommt man eine Ohrfeige?")

He was quite famous in the GDR, but apparently they aren't published any more. So that's even an insider in Germany itself. ;-)

Same is true for Hannes Hüttner ("Das Blaue vom Himmel"). Bit sad you can't get those books anymore.


Käthe Recheis: Der weiße Wolf

A fantasy novel where the main character is summoned to a fantasy world to help the woodland tribes against the invaders.


Hohlbein: Elfentanz

A fantasy story where the main character fights against an evil black lord, but the ending is less black and white than one might expect.


Kleiner Eisbär books by Hans de Beer are perfect for language learning. They are only 30 pages long and use simple vocabulary. Reading these books made me realize that I need to study more adverbs. Bisa Bia, Bisa Bel by Ana Maria Machado was written by a Brazilian but it is unavailable in English. I've been slowly translating this book as a language learning exercise and I'll be the only English speaker to have read it when I'm done.


Known in Switzerland

  • Divico
  • Die Kummerbuben
  • Heidi und der Geissenpeter
  • Wir Kinder aus Bullerbü (and everything else by Astrid Lindgren)
  • Schellenursli
  • Papa Moll
  • Globi
  • 1
    Of course, Astrid Lindgren is neither Swiss nor German, but Swedish. Still great books (and movies) of course.
    – fzwo
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 9:28

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