Reading children’s books as a beginner is one of the most effective ways to improve your Dutch.
Children’s stories in particular tend to have simple grammar and vocabulary.
As a beginner, being able to read and understand written Dutch can be very exciting! This can keep you encouraged and motivated on your Dutch learning journey.
Check out these 5 easy Dutch books for beginners which are the perfect practice material for you as you’re starting out with Dutch.
1. “Jip en Janneke” by Annie M.G. Schmidt
“Jip en Janneke” is a series of children’s books written by Dutch author Annie M.G. Schmidt about two neighbourhood friends — Jip and Janneke.
The stories were originally written in the 1950s and published in an Amsterdam-based newspaper before being published as a collection of books.
The language is simple and the stories are fun for readers of all ages.
You may or may not have heard the term “jip-en-janneketaal” used by Dutch speakers. Due to the simple language used in the stories, asking someone to use “jip-en-janneketaal” has become a way of saying, “speak (or write) using words anyone would understand” (i.e. simplify a complex concept by using basic language).
Given the stories have been around now for 70 years, they are known by just about every Dutchie. It is no wonder why it’s one of the most gifted books for aspiring Dutch speakers looking for easy Dutch books for beginners!
2. “Pluk van de Petteflet” by Annie M.G. Schmidt
After “Jip en Janneke”, “Pluk van de Petteflet” is undoubtedly Annie M.G. Schmidt’s next most popular book. Despite being first printed in 1971, it remained a children’s bestseller well into the 1990s.
Pluk drives around in his red crane in an imaginative world full of fairy-tale creature friends.
The grammar and plot are straight-forward but you’re sure to learn some new vocabulary (e.g. animals, bugs, items around the house, and much more).
Like her other works, Pluk van de Petteflet is a Dutch classic that doesn’t disappoint no matter your age.
3. “Ssst! De tijger slaapt” by Britta Teckentrup
A more modern children’s book — “Ssst! De tijger slaapt” was originally written in English, it has been translated into several different languages including Dutch in 2016.
In 2018 it was voted Prentenboek van het Jaar (Picture Book of the Year) in the Netherlands.
The book follows a group of animals who need to cross over the tiger without waking her up. Along with the help of the reader, they come up with some clever solutions to get past her!
This book is incredibly popular due to its interactive element, and fun and surprising plot. It’s the perfect easy Dutch books for beginners just starting with Dutch!
4. “Hé, wie zit er op de wc?” by Harmen van Straaten
Harmen van Straaten is an award winning Dutch illustrator and writer of more than fifty children’s books. His books, written originally in Dutch, have been translated to many different languages.
The animal friends have to deal with a situation we’ve all been in — waiting for the bathroom to be free. Hence the title “Hé, wie zit er op de wc?”.
Written in a rhyme pattern and some repetition in the language, it’s an ideal easy Dutch books for beginners.
5. “Kikker is jarig” by Max Velthuijs
Max Velthuijs broke through in the 1980s with his books about Kikker the frog. He went on to receive an international writing prize (also previously awarded to the writer of Jip en Janneke, Annie M.G. Schmidt).
“Kikker is jarig” is only one of a number of Kikker books in Velthuijs’ repertoire. Another popular one, “Kikker is verliefd” has been translated into twenty languages!
The Kikker stories are always fun and positive, and the language used is nice and simple for a beginner.
I like “Kikker is jarig” for this list because it covers something important and unique to the Dutch language — being “jarig”, which is an adjective describing someone on their birthday.
Kikker is widely known character in the Netherlands through Velthuijs’ works, so it is not only a great book to help you with your Dutch, but can also give you a deeper understanding of Dutch culture.
Where to find these books
All of these books can be purchased online at bol.com.
If you aren’t interested in purchasing these Dutch children’s books as study material, you may be able to find them at the library.
The library has a massive collection of books for all levels and a membership is of course more cost effective than buying the books individually.
Don’t see yourself going to the library to check out a physical book any time soon? For less than € 50 per year you can also get an online membership which gives you access to Dutch e-books for your reading pleasure.
This is, in my opinion, the best (and most budget-friendly) way to access these and hundreds of other easy Dutch books for beginners learning the language.
These recommendations have hopefully given you some ideas for Dutch children’s books you can read as an absolute beginner.
These will not only introduce you to basic grammar and vocabulary, but will also give you a bit of a look into Dutch culture — which is part of understanding the language!
Don’t see your go-to Dutch children’s book on the list? Leave a comment and let me know what should be included in the next list!