5 Dutch Books To Help You Learn The Language

From children’s stories to World War II novels, this list of Dutch books provides language learners with a variety of options for every skill level.
illustration of books in Dutch color scheme

When you reach the point in your language learning where you know a lot of vocabulary and have a good grasp of grammar rules, it can be useful to test your reading comprehension skills to see how well you really know the new language. A great way to do this is to try reading books in that language. For learners studying Dutch, this list is for you! With the help of our team of language experts, we’ve identified five Dutch books that are helpful for language learners at various skill levels. So whether you’re a beginner, at an intermediate level, or more advanced, one of these Dutch books will be a good match for you.

Dutch Books For Learners At Every Level

1. Minoes (Beginner)

This children’s book is a great place to start for beginners learning Dutch because the language used in it is relatively simple and easy to understand. Written by famous Dutch children’s author Annie M.G. Schmidt, Minoes is about a cat that turns into a human woman. It’s a fun read, and there’s also a film version for you visual learners.

2. Oorlogswinter (Intermediate)

Translated as “Winter in Wartime,” this YA novel by Jan Terlouw chronicles the life of a teenage boy during the last winter of World War II when the Germans invaded the Netherlands. This book is a good choice for intermediate learners and will teach you some Dutch history, along with plenty of vocab. There’s a popular movie version of this book as well.

3. Het Diner (Intermediate)

Het Diner (“The Dinner”) is an international bestselling novel by Dutch author Herman Koch. The book takes place over the course of a dinner, at which two couples meet to discuss a violent crime their sons are accused of committing. The writing style is fun, descriptive and fairly easy to understand, and (surprise!) there’s a film version if you’re so inclined.

4. Knielen op een bed violen (Intermediate)

This award-winning novel explores how religious fundamentalism can impact family life and relationships. Based partially on author Jan Siebelink’s own childhood, Knielen op een bed violen is a sad and isolating tale that will teach you religious and family-related vocab, as well as different grammatical tenses. Is there a film, you ask? Yes, yes there is.

5. De Aanslag (Advanced)

Our last pick is for more advanced Dutch learners. De Aanslag (“The Assault”) is another World War II novel, this time about a 12-year-old boy whose family is murdered by Nazis and the years following as he mourns and tries to move on. The author, Harry Mulisch, is one of the most renowned Dutch writers. The movie version (because of course there was one) won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1986.

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