When I studied languages in high school and university, literature — poetry, novels, plays — was an integral part of our curriculum and one of my favorite aspects of it.
As a language instructor, I’ve also integrated literature into my teaching methods, often using poetry and fairy tales to inject some fun and culture into the lessons and work on pronunciation.
Here are just some of my favorite poems, novels and plays, that can also help you improve your German language skills.
Poems (ranging from beginners level (A1) to advanced (B2/C1))
Erich Fried – Was es ist
Heinrich Heine – Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen
Elli Michler – Ich wünsche dir Zeit
Johann Wolfgang Goethe – Der Erlkönig
Theodor Fontane – Nicht Glückes bar
Rainer Maria Rilke – Das Karussell
Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann – Der Struwwelpeter (poetry for children)
Julia Engelmann – Eines Tages, Baby (poetry slam)
Novels and plays
Wolf Haas (Austria) – Komm, süßer Tod
Thomas Berhard (Austria) – Alte Meister
Hermann Hesse (Germany) – Der Steppenwolf
Erich Kästner (Germany) – Emil und die Detektive (Kinderbuch)
Martin Suter (Switzerland) – Der Koch
Friedrich Dürrenmatt (Switzerland) – Die Physiker