If you haven’t heard of the Goethe Institut and their amazing free German reading library, then you are missing out on one of the best free German resources out there.
Goethe’s online library provides access to thousands of free books, graded readers, audio books, and newspaper articles that can help you bring your reading and listening comprehension to the next level.
Goethe Library is our number one recommended place to find free German reading material. It's modern, easy to use, and best of all free! The reader supports night mode and even comes with a mobile app to continue your language immersion on the go.
If you’ve already gone through our list of the best German graded readers and are looking for the next book to level up your German skills, then you are in the right place!
There is a common problem faced by language learners everywhere: What the heck should I be reading and listening to after I’ve covered the basics? Long answer short, read and listen to things that interest you! With Goethe’s free online Library, you have access to thousands of online books and audiobooks covering a wide range of themes that you can use to improve your language skills at home or on the go.
Some key considerations to take into account when choosing your next German book is the theme. If you enjoy non-fiction, you might consider Wie man Deutscher wird in 50 einfachen Schritten. This short book covers some stereotypical aspects of German culture such as eating a hearty breakfast, being punctual, and always obeying the red traffic light man. If you enjoy drama and would like to remain within the territory of graded readers, you can try Heiße Spur in München. If you’d like to up your game and venture into original works by German authors, consider adding Tintenherz to your reading list, a young adult fiction novel that deals with magic, murder, and adventure.
The library also hosts a wealth of grammar and vocabulary books, if you’re into that, with explanations and exercises to take your German one step further. Some books to explore here are Grammatik leicht B1, Lesen & Schreiben B1, and Wortschatz & Grammatik B1.
Sometimes it helps to look up a rule or a certain aspect of grammar that you are struggling with, but make sure to balance your grammatical study with pleasure reading, which has been shown to be an incredibly effective way of picking up grammar rules and vocabulary subconsciously. We discuss this more in our article 5 best tips to learn a foreign language. The article is in German, so you can use it to practice your reading comprehension and get some language learning tips at the same time!
One great strategy to improve your language skills is to read and listen to texts at the same time. This auditory and visual comprehension gives you two sources of input, improving your ability to understand complicated texts and increasing the likelihood that words stick. Many of the books in the Goethe library also have audio versions (Hörbücher). One example is the aforementioned Tintenherz, which is available here as both a free eBook and a free audiobook.
As you read these books, you might consider using flashcards and spaced repetition to improve your retention of the vocabulary. Read more about that here in Using Anki flashcards to learn German!
There’s no reason to limit yourself to only books. Our favorite German learning magazine is Deutsch Perfekt, which is accessible for free through the Goethe Institute library.
Deutsch Perfekt covers topics and events that are actually happening in Germany and around the world, making it a great source of news as well as language practice. The articles are written in three levels (easy A2, medium B1, and hard B2-C2), so you should be able to find pieces that are level appropriate.
In addition to all this, the magazine comes with a complementary exercise book, which you can use to review the topics and grammatical structures that you’ve been exposed to in the issue.
As stated above, this online library provides access to thousands of free books, and we definitely can’t cover all of them here. If you are looking for graded readers, try typing “A1”, “A2”, “B1”, etc. in the search bar. If you are looking for a specific book, you can obviously just type in the name of that book. The important thing to know is that once you move out of the beginner level, your primary task as a language learner is going to be searching for level appropriate material that interests you. Do you like history, murder mysteries, or nonfiction? Maybe you prefer science, chess, or young adult novels like Harry potter. The best thing you can do to make progress in a language is to spend time with it, and you are much more likely to spend time doing something you enjoy, so figure out what you like and consume it voraciously in your target language!