Today I’m going to share with you how I have taught my kids to read German. Understanding and or speaking wasn’t good enough for me. I really want them to be able to read German and ideally write as well. The challenge for me was to find the right material. They are not native speakers, so they are missing some vocabulary and grammatical nuances that are assumed in German school textbooks. However they are beyond the level that might be available here to kids that have no prior knowledge. So you have to improvise. Personally I always wait until my kids are solid in their English reading before I would teach them how to read in German. However bilingual schools show that it is possible to do both at the same time. Thankfully German is much easier phonetically than English so it doesn’t take that long to teach. Above I have a German reader that is used in German schools. They are easy to understand even for non native speakers. Once we work through that I have them read simple books like the Max und der Keks series to give them the opportunity to read on their own.
For the next level I use the second grade reader above left. I also use different grammar and writing helps.
After the second grade level I have them read books like early readers. Once they are at a 4th grade level they might be able to read Pippi Longstocking, or similar books.
I bought most of these books in Germany, they have great sales around August. Another great resource is Alphabet Garden, an online store; they have quite a bit of text books and refer you to billingual websites. Amazon.de is also a great option.
My oldest just started high-school. He is pretty fluent and a decent reader. However his grammar and writing skills are lacking. Therefore I enrolled him in German. I want him to start from scratch with Grammar and relearn some of those things he has missed.
In my experience immersion is not enough. If you don’t have a strong grammatical foundation you will always be guessing as how to built your sentences. I was immersed in Croatian all my life. I was taught grammar in elementary once a week but it was assumed that I was a native speaker. I would have benefited relearning it in high-school as a foreign speaker to fill all those gaps I have.
This is just to show you what we have done. I’m sure there are better options out there. If you know of any do tell. I’d love to hear from you.