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LÜGEN HABEN KURZE BEINE - 6 great kids' books in German on speaking truth and lying

Everybody tells lies, small and big, up to 200 times a day, and with children it is no different. Though we also all get upset if we catch somebody telling US a lie. And even more so with our children. It is actually quite a learning curve for kids. Children start lying as early as 2-3 years of age, though since this is also their magical age, it is not always clear if this is wishful thinking or actually lying to get away with something.Around 5, 6 years their lies will get a lot more complex. Experts say it is a sign of intelligence, an exercise in taking somebody else's perspective. If you are looking for advice how to, check out this New York Times article, or this page in German. The next step is learning why somebody would lie to them. At the same time, they have to figure out why telling their aunt they don't like her food or a birthday gift is bad, but it's not okay to tell lies? It is really quite complex!

According to some research the best books to read are stories that encourage telling truth rather than showing how lies get you into trouble. Most books stress on the trouble though: and to be fair, it often is a much funnier or more dramatic story! So here are my favorites:

Nöstlinger / Sieg

Christine Nöstlinger / Katharina Sieg


Every morning around ten the dog Max takes the ferry from La Maddalena to Palau. The people start to wonder why. What is he doing in Palau? So they ask him. And every day he tells them another story. On Monday, he tells the seamstress that he is waiting for his father who left him when he was a puppy and promised he would return with a red balloon as a sign. On Tuesday, the priest says that the first story isn't true, Max told him the true reason: he is fleeing from a cat that is in love with him and harasses him. And on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday he tells each person another story. So are all stories lies? asks the little girl Gina. No, stories give joy, lies harm, says Max. Beautiful colorful illustrations and a story that gives you lots of opportunity to wonder which story is the right one - and what truth and lies are all about - by the grand dame of Austrian children's literature Christine Nöstlinger.

4 years and up.

German kids' books on lying

Jacqueline Kauer / Daniel Kauer


My 5 year old gets very upset when other children embellish their achievements to an extent that stretches credibility. And hey, who doesn't? But often times it is a way to hide insecurity and an attempt to be liked. That is what this picture book is about: Lama Fredy is the coolest of them all. He is the lead singer of a successful band, is the best sales man at the local shoe store and all the female lamas are into him and he has fancy dinners with three at a time. Or at least that is what he tells his friend Fauli the sloth. Fauli is a chill guy, quite the opposite, and he doesn't notice that the stories Fredy tells don't quite add up. But then he reads an article about how only the waitress was present at Fredy's concert, he finds tons of unsold shoes that Fredy is hiding from him. And he gets really angry...

Great picture book that appeals to older kids, too. And tackles the question: do I have to be the best, and do amazing all the time to be liked and have friends?

4 years and up

Antje Damm


This picture book for slightly older kids is meant as a conservation starter on the topic. The idea is that kids come up with answers, not you - and you can discuss them. And you may be surprised by the insights your kid has! Each page has only one question or aspect, such as Is it good to always be truthful? It points to marketing claims and other situations we all come across in every day life and shows how in many cases it depends on your perspective, if you call something a lie or not.

6 years and up

Joe Berger



Simon has a problem, he can't stop telling lies. To Simon truth is an elephant, big and wrinkly, that is blocking your way, so you have to find ways around it. But the truth is, his lies get him into rather than out of trouble - in school, with the class bully, and at home, where the family blames him for anything that goes wrong, like a ping pong ball in the peanut butter jar.... And things are not easy anyway, with his mom whose idea of fun is math problems, his jazz-obsessed father and his perfect sister... Hilarious graphic novel, perfect for kids to read on their own (even for reluctant readers).

8 years and up

Natalie Kuperman


Clara had some homework reading. But she didn't feel like it. So when there is a test about it, she has to hand in a white sheet of paper. She is worried because of the repercussions and the bad grade. Obviously her mother notices something is off and asks. Clara doesn't want to disappoint her mom with a bad grade and so she tells a lie.. And when the teacher asks if something is wrong, she tells another lie... and soon the lies involve other people as well. Clara didn't mean to hurt anybody's feelings, but she does. Well told story about how one lie turns into a whole web of lies.. and how difficult it can be to handle the different needs of your family and friends, and your own.

8 years and up

Salah Naoura


Matti is tired of all the little and not so little lies his parents keep telling, to feel more important, or avoid conflicts. He really has had it when he finds out that his parents never donated any money to help animals threatened by extinction like they claimed and when his father, who is without a job and hardly ever talks, comes up with an elaborate story of a job and house in Switzerland to impress his brother. So Matti tells his parents the biggest or riskiest lie of all: he tells them they won a house in Finland. And his parents give up their life to move there... An amazing story, that is funny and deep at the same time, and seems true even though improbable.

9 years and up

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