A Trip to the Zentralbibliothek

One of my friends Amber suggested that one of the best ways to improve my German was to get myself a library card and start borrowing children’s picture books.  I thought this was an outstanding idea and today I made the journey into the Hamburg Zentralbibliothek or Bücherhallen as it is known here to do just that.

Getting a library card was as easy as showing my passport and my Meldebestätigung (my city registration) and paying the annual fee of €46 which entitles me to get out both books and DVDs.  I was then let loose in the KinderBibliothek along with the other kids and their parents.  I can say with confidence that I was the oldest person there who was looking for books for themselves to read.

Then came the tricky part of choosing books I would be able to read.  There is nothing quite like having to put a picture book back on the shelf because it is beyond your reading ability when you are 35.  However, on finding a picture book that was written by Neil Gaiman (albeit the German language version) I was able to leave the KinderBilbiothek with a tiny shred of dignity intact. Although to be honest, The Wolves in the Wall is probably a little beyond my reading ability.

The books I got out are:

The Wölves in den Wanden by Neil Gaiman

Richard by Helme Heine (which appears to be about a blackbird)

Ich war’s nicht! Ganz ehrlich nicht! by Lauren Child (which is based in the Charlie und Lola tv show, apparently)

Manchmal wär’ ich lieve Max by Reinhard Michl (which appears to be about a boy and his cat)

I also got out a DVD – Fangt die Sterne! which is a Dora the Explorer DVD. Dora here is awesome for English speakers trying to learn German as she speaks German and English rather than English and Spanish as in the English language version. Also, everything is repeated hundreds of times so learning to pronounce new words is made quite a lot easier.

Therefore, I’m going to spend my weekend reading children’s books and watching Dora.  It’s going to be like a second childhood.

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12 thoughts on “A Trip to the Zentralbibliothek

  1. I love Helme Heine! His books are great, I really hope you’ll like it.
    I also love everything written by Janosch. Maybe you could look for a few Janosch-books the next time you go to the Bibliothek.

    • I have never hear of Heine before, I only picked up the book because each page only contains one sentence. I will look out for Janosch when I’m next at the library.

  2. Good luck! I have real trouble with understanding spoken Canadian-accented French, although I can read it just fine. I watch the French TV channels with subtitles on, which helps me a fair bit.

    And I think adults all over should read Charlie and Lola in any language. Yes.

    • I can read German far better than I can understand it spoken so I really need to work on that.
      I haven’t really heard of Charlie and Lola before. Now interested to read the book. :)

  3. What a great idea! I keep meaning to get to the library here only because I am becoming poor from paying for new books to read on the train. If I ever actually get there, I’ll have to check out the children’s section, myself. Whatever you’re doing to learn in addition to classes appears to be going well. I was quite impressed with your earlier post about communicating about your apartment search. Well done!

    • Thanks :) Definitely get a library card as it is much cheaper than buying books. The library here in Hamburg also has an English language section, but I didn”t check it out this time. It also has a rather extensive DVD library with movies in English. Probably much cheaper than renting movies at the local video store.

  4. Well, your friend Amber did give you a great advice indeed!
    When I was first trying to learn the German language, I would go out and buy all the Micky Maus comic books out there
    They were a bit tricky at first, and a bit humiliating and embarrassing to read them while using a German-English dictionary. But I’ve learned a great sum of vocabulary and common German sentences’ structures from them, that I would definitely recommend trying them out!

    Hope you find that helpful, good luck Riayn :)

    • One of my friends is going to give me his Asterix comics. :)
      It definitely is a challenging experience for one’s ego to have so much trouble reading a children’s book.

  5. You could always “borrow” a child when you go to the library – the parents will appreciate it as free babysitting. I learned lots of German from reading my kids bedtime stories and watching kiddie videos with them. Of course, it could be that the reason people look at me oddly is that I speak like Benjamin Blümchen….

    • If I knew anyone with kids, I would definitely take them along to the library with me. :) I fear I’m going to end up speaking German like Dora.

  6. I spent about 4 months living in Peru a few years back, and I bought the Spanish version of the first Harry Potter to help as a refresher– something where I knew the plot and characters already really let me focus on the words. I know you might not yet be up to complicated things like plots yet, but nonetheless its a good idea to try something you might already be familiar with, if that is possible. Good luck and great idea, Meg!

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