Keeping in with this week’s Berlin theme, I thought it was about time to share some of our favourite Berlin kids books. Whether you live here, are planning a visit, or simply want to introduce your kids to other places around the world, these books are perfect for toddlers, pre-schoolers and also one recommendation for slightly older kids. The books for the younger ones don’t really rely on being able to read German, and the book for older kids also comes in an English translation. So no excuses! Here they are, clockwise starting from the top:
- Mein erstes Berlin Buch (Engl: ‘My first Berlin book’) by Heribert Stragholz – This chunky board book only seems to be available from third party sellers, but I just had to include it. Our neighbours in Edinburgh gave it to our eldest son as a leaving gift when we moved to Berlin. Apart from the title, it contains no words so works well in any language. Each page shows one picture of something typical of Berlin, including the yellow subway trains, a plate of Currywurst, the Reichstag dome, a graffiti artist, and the famous Nefertiti bust from Museum Island, amongst other things.
- Berlin Wimmelbuch: Ausbruch aus dem Zoo by Judith Drews – A ‘Wimmel’ book is a very popular concept in Germany. It literally translates as ‘teeming book’ and is basically a kind of hidden picture book, similar to ‘Where’s Wally’, including densely illustrated scenes sometimes with specific things to find, sometimes just to see what you can discover. In Judith Drews’ large book of quirky illustrations, the animals have escaped from the zoo and you need to find them among the pages, which also include a host of famous Berlin landmarks such as the TV Towers, the Reichstag dome or the dinosaur skeletons at the Natural History Museum. The book includes a double spread at the beginning with things to look for and questions to answer, for which a certain level of German is required BUT this is just an added bonus because even if you don’t read German you can still study the illustrations together to see which escaped animals you can find.
- Berlin ist Gross und ich bin Klein by Lololand Books – Another chunky board book, which I picked up at the train station because I loved the cute illustrations. It has silhouettes of famous Berlin landmarks, such as Museum Island, with cute and colourful little animals doing some sightseeing. My favourite is the Ku’damm shopping mile – it’s short for ‘Kurfürstendamm’, but also sounds like the ‘Kuh’, the German word for cow, so of course this page features little cows. Hilarious and cute.
- Mein Grosses Berlin Wimmelbuch by Aleksandra & Aleksander – Another Wimmelbuch board book, this one has much more realistic illustrations than the one above. Each page shows a detailed scene from Berlin, including the Zoo, the Central Station, the Technology Museum, one of Berlin’s many lakes, and a Christmas Market, among other things. This book was a special edition for the Thalia bookstore, and sadly no longer seems available, but you can find similar ones on the Thalia website.
- Emil and the Detectives (Engl: Emil and the Detectives) by Erich Kästner – This famous book by well-known and beloved German children’s author Erich Kästner is a classic, and has been made into a movie several times. Emil’s mother sends him to visit his grandmother in Berlin, letting him ride the train on his own. She pins some money for him inside his jacket. He falls asleep on the train, and when he wakes up the money is gone! With help from a band of boys and his cousin, Pony Hütchen, he sets out to track the thief down. Fun fact: There’s a Swedish children’s book series by Astrid Lindgren, whose main character is called Emil, but in the German translation he is called Michel because German children’s literature already had the well known Emil character from Erich Kästner’s book.
Do you have any other favourite children’s books set in Berlin? Please feel free to share your recommendations in the comments below!
Please note that the Amazon book links in this post are affiliate links. That means if you buy any books via these links, I receive a small percentage – at no extra cost to you! – which helps to keep this blog running.