And this is how I learnt to read: Too early, to general displeasure, and by this book. It’s a beautifully illustrated story with the characters of a Punch-and-Judy show. It’s grandma’s birthday, and Kasperle (the traditional protagonist) buys doughnuts to celebrate. But! the little devil swings by and steals them, with the wonderful reasoning of “I’m sure these are counted, so he’ll know if I’m taking one. If I take one, he’ll know – so I’ll take them all, and he won’t be able to count them to see how many are mising!” All the other characters show up – the girl, the king, the policeman, the crocodile, the robber, and unite in chasing the devil.
It’s all told in incredibly adorable rhymes. The book was common knowledge in my family, and was quoted endlessly, plus I got my great-grandmother to read it to me in a probably slightly excessive frequency. Soon I could quote it entirely (and I still can, if I concentrate), and I’d of course pretend that I was reading it out loud! Fake it till you make it: after some time, I didn’t need to pretend anymore, and I was able to read first some, then all of it.
Der Räuber Hotzenplotz is another German book for children that uses the Punch-and-Judy characters, though in a very different way.
For more witty/funny rhymes like these, turn to the master of the genre, Wilhelm Busch.