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November 2003 - Nr. 11


The Editor
Von Muskelprotz...
Vienna Connection
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Dear Mom
Young Leaders
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German Pioneers Day
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UofYork Honours
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44 Language School Awards
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Dick reports...
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2003 Radweltmeisterschaften
Music-Land Germany
German Christmas Markets
German Arts Now
Luther's Home Searched
Grimm's Dictionary
Berlin's Worth
Economy to get stronger
Financial Advice
Newton Donates Works
No Growth w/o Reforms
Read Out Loud
New Waterway
VW Designer

Germany reads out loud

  TWIG - Open a book. Read to your neighbor. Read to your friends. Read to your children. — That is the goal of a new literacy campaign headed by Doris Schroeder-Koepf, wife of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, to combat sinking interest in reading among young people.

At the Frankfurt Book Fair last week, Schroeder-Koepf — already a prominent children’s author herself in Germany — kicked off a campaign to reverse the trend of dwindling bookworm numbers among the nation’s youth. "Germany Reads Out Loud" is an initiative to promote the founding of "Reading Worlds" such as those already in place in Berlin.

The first such "Lesewelt" was founded in Berlin several years ago by Carmen Stuerzel, a teacher who got the idea for the initiative while visiting the United States. Unemployed at the time, she translated the idea to a successful reading program that now engages readers between 13 and 87 years old.

Especially for children with uneducated parents, and for those whose parents do not read themselves, being read to can mean the difference between a lifelong passion for the communicated word or a constant disdain for books, say organizers of the campaign.

Schroeder-Koepf expressed her hope that more children see reading as "a pleasure, as an exciting journey into their own world," not just as a requirement for school.

The project also hopes to reach young people for whom television has played a pivotal role in childhood. Comparing the two as forms of entertainment, one critic explained why television can never replace the experience of being read to: "Television has no arms, it doesn’t scratch your head, it doesn’t answer questions, and it never listens."

Ideally, it is the parents who assume this role. But organizers know that this goal is often unrealized with two working parents, time constraints, and especially for parents whose first language is not German. Thus, they aim to include all levels of the German populace into the program, from housewives and pensioners to business leaders and children themselves.

Schroeder-Koepf hopes that the program will turn around the recent drop in German students’ verbal schools that were registered in the PISA study two years ago.

The program is funded by the Koerberstiftung, a foundation whose transantlantic idea contest "USable" provides funding for American ideas to be implemented in Germany.


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