I just finished Harry Potter und die Kammer des Schreckens, the German translation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Of course, I have read the American version and seen the movie, so I was familiar with the story. However, reading the book in German was a fun way to test and improve my German.
I don’t feel that I understood everything in the book, and I probably wouldn’t have known what was going on if I hadn’t previously read the books in English, but there were often entire paragraphs that I understood completely. There were even jokes that made me laugh out loud again, in a different language than before. Of course, there were also paragraphs that made no sense at all to me on the first reading. Sometimes I would re-read the paragraphs with a dictionary, but sometimes I would simply let the paragraph go, figuring that it was probably just insults directed at Percy or some other filler.
I started reading the book about 2½ months into my 3-hours-per-day German classes, and read the book over the last month of those classes. One interesting thing was learning grammatical concepts in my class after noticing something strange in the book. For example, I was curious about verbs ending in -te, and then I learned in class that it meant a certain way of expressing the past. Or, I wondered why phrases sometimes started with die die, and then I learned about relative pronouns.
I also learned a lot of vocabulary from the book. Often, they were words that were related to the Wizarding world (Kamin = fireplace, Zauberei = magic, Kürbis = pumpkin), but they were sometimes normal words that just hadn’t been covered in class (flüstern = to whisper).
I definitely missed the chapter illustrations from the American version. Not only do I find them entertaining, I think they would have helped me remember what certain chapters were about when I couldn’t translate the chapter title (Dobbys Warnung is fairly obvious; Die Peitschende Weide isn’t).
When I get back to America, I’ll probably find Jenny’s copy of Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen (the first book) and give that a go. It should be easier because it’s smaller and because I now know that a Zauberstab is a magic wand and that the Sprechende Hut (Speaking Hat) is really the Sorting Hat, etc. Anyway, it should be a fun way for me to continue to learn and practice German while reading an enjoyable and familiar story.