Growing up, I learned conversational German, “at home” German, the basics that could get me through most everyday situations smoothly, and have nice chats with my Oma. My everyday German reading skills were similar. As a child I devoured books in English and German, and I still feel comfortable with popular novels, mystery stories and Cookbooks. But, I was never really comfortable reading German Literature Classics. (To be fair, I struggle to understand the deeper meanings in English as well). Old German, or more formal German writing, usually has me reaching for the dictionary three times in one single line… and before you know it, the meaning is lost (and I reach for the latest Oliver Pötzsch or Donna Leon).
Thankfully, the right teacher came along. Anna Patricia Ricker, a gymnasium teacher in Germany (roughly the equivalent of High School or Prep School), wrote a series of books, Klassiker für Kinder, that made German Classics accessible to me. Suddenly I can not only understand Schiller, Goethe, and Droste-Hülshof, I can enjoy and appreciate them!
Klassiker für Kinder- Classics for Children
While the series is called Klassiker für Kinder (Classics for Children), these aren’t really “children’s” books. You won’t find pictures or cartoons. And the stories are not dumbed down, or shortened. The Classic Romantic Era Ballads are changed from poetry to prose, and re-written in a language that German readers with middle or high school abilities can read and understand.
Once you’ve read the story in Prose (prose is just reading regular speech), you can flip a few pages and find the original Ballad in its Poetic form. (Think about your High School English class, and the times you had to read Shakespeare’s sonnets. I know I struggled with the old language, until I understood the story). Suddenly, it’s clear! You can focus on the magic of the words because you KNOW where the story is going!
So a Ballad like Der Taufer (The Diver), which normally begins like this-
Starts with a little bit of backstory
Then parallels the Ballad
Currently, there are 7 volumes of Klassiker für Kinder
To my great delight, Anna sent me Band 1 : “Ritter, Recken, Mittelalter- Balladen von Schiller neu erzählt.” (Knights, Warriors, Middleages- Ballads from Schiller). I’ve always loved tales of knights in shining armor, and this volume is full of such stories… from clever knights to brave squires… and even a dragon!
And as you can see, each volume or Band covers specific themes, from Knights to Ghosts, and Vikings to Heros. (I want to read Band 6 next)
Band 1: Ritter, Recken, Mittelalter (Balladen von Schiller) Knights, Warriors, Middle ages
Band 2: Untote, Zauber, Spukgestalten (Balladen von Goethe) Undead, Magic, Ghostly Figures
Band 3: Krieger, Götter, Altertum (Balladen von Shiller) Warriors, Gods, Antiquity
Band 4: Moore, Geister, Gruseldinge (Balladen von Droste Hülshoff) Bogs, Ghosts, Gruesome Things
Band 5: Helden, Mut und Herzensgüte (Balladen von Bürger, Ernst, Fontane, Goethe) Heroes, Courage and Kindheartedness
Band 6: Elfen, Riesen, Zwergenvolk (Balladen von Chamisso, Droste-Hülshoff, Goethe Kopisch Meyer) Elves, Giants and Dwarf Folk
Band 7: Wikinger, Piraten, stürmische See (Balladen von Dehmel, Droste-Hülshoff, Fontane Liliencron) Vikings, Pirates and stormy Seas
German Classic Literature made Easy
The best part of the Klassiker für Kinder series….You get the confidence to READ German Classic Literature. Reading them in prose enables you to read the original poetry.
If you want to improve your German reading fluency (or you want to help a German Student), and you love a good legend or classic tale, you must add the Klassiker für Kinder series to your library.
Ritter, Recken, Mittelalter: Balladen von Schiller neu erzählt (Klassiker für Kinder) (German Edition)Untote, Zauber, Spukgestalten: Balladen von Goethe neu erzählt (Klassiker für Kinder) (German Edition)Krieger, Götter, Altertum: Balladen von Schiller neu erzählt (Klassiker für Kinder) (German Edition)Moore, Geister, Gruseldinge: Balladen von Annette von Droste-Hülshoff neu erzählt (Klassiker für Kinder) (German Edition)Helden, Mut und Herzensgüte: Balladen von Bürger, Ernst, Fontane und Goethe neu erzählt (Klassiker für Kinder) (German Edition)Elfen, Riesen, Zwergenvolk: Balladen von Chamisso, Droste-Hülshoff, Goethe, Kopisch und Meyer neu erzählt (Klassiker für Kinder) (German Edition)Piraten, Wikinger, stürmische See: Balladen von Dehmel, Droste-Hülshoff, Fontane und Liliencron neu erzählt (Klassiker für Kinder) (German Edition)
Just imagine where you can go from there!