A Farewell by Miss Sophie and James- Happy New Year!

The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?” is the first part of a quote from the famous TV Short “Dinner For One” from 1963, originally written by a British author, Laurie Wylie. Today I would like to introduce this work as it is an important part of my New Year’s traditions. Every December 31st of the year I work in the small private theatre next to my family’s home where Dinner for One is performed. 

In the comedy sketch, Miss Sophie celebrates her 90th birthday, inviting her friends Sir Toby, Admiral von Schneider, Mr Pomeroy, and Mr Winterbottom for a special dinner. Unfortunately, Miss Sophie is the last one of their little group which leads her to ask her butler James to impersonate her friends so she can still have their annual birthday dinner. Each course is accompanied by a round of drinks for a toast, which James has to take for every missing guest after every meal. Because of this, he is intoxicated rather quickly and it becomes more and more difficult to properly serve Miss Sophie and her imaginary guests.

The sketch has several running gags such as:

  • The Tiger Rug→ James constantly trips over its head 
  • Sir Toby always has a little bit more in his glass than the others
  • Skål– James has to tap his heels every time and say Skål which is Scandinavian and translates to cheers

Dinner for One has become a tradition for many Germans on December 31. Every year, people decide to watch a black-and-white short movie of only 18 minutes which is screened with an English dialogue. Most of the German regional channels start playing the classic in the early evening hours and one can find at least one channel playing it until midnight. The TV Short holds the Guinness World Record for the most replayed TV program ever and many parodies have been published. 

However, while this is a New Year’s Eve tradition for many Germans, people on the British Isles have their traditions and customs

  • Hogmanay, Scotland
    • The Scottish 3-day festival to celebrate New Year’s Eve is one of the most important holidays. The Scots have many customs for these days, one of them being first-footing which begins when the clock strikes midnight. This refers to the first person crossing the threshold of a Scottish home who brings gifts, traditionally coal. Furthermore, the traditional song Auld Lang Syne is sung together. The title can be translated into ‘since long ago’ or ‘for old times sake’ and its lyrics tell a story of old friends sharing some drinks, reminiscing their old adventures.  
  • Calennig
    • The Welsh word means New Year’s Celebration and comes close to trick or treating on Halloween. The children go from door to door and sing songs in return for money or sweets. 
  • Mari Lwyd
    • This is also a Welsh New Year’s tradition from the folk culture of South Wales. Here, a decorated horse head can be found on a pole and locals carry it around town. It is seen as a sign of good luck and after its departure, it is said to leave good fortune to the house it approached or entered. 

Did you already know these New Year’s traditions? Have you ever practised them yourself? Will you watch Dinner for One this year?

And with Miss Sophie’s words “Same procedure as every year“, I would like to wish you a Happy New Year and to a new year full of hopes, dreams and loads of new literature.

Lisa A.

Greetings from our Dinner for One Team in the Theater an der Angel in Magdeburg. (Private Picture)

Christmas is right around the corner and to get into the right spirit I annually circle back to many Christmas-themed books, poems, movies/ series and songs before the holidays. Today, I would like to share my personal favourites with you. 


Many Christmas songs are played throughout December, among them radio classics such as Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin’ Stevens (1984), All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey (1994), and Last Christmas by WHAM! (1984). 

While I do enjoy these songs a lot, I tend to go back to more classical songs from my childhood in a choir with songs such as the German classics Maria Durch Ein Dornwald Ging or O Tannenbaum, du trägst ein grünes Kleid or the song O Holy Night which was based on a French poem. Two songs I always listen to on repeat are Eta Notsch Swjataja (arr. Füting, 2015) and Shchedryk.

Shchedryk might sound unfamiliar, but I am sure that everyone has at least heard of it once. The Ukrainian New Year’s song arranged by Mykola Leontovych in 1916 was originally used in a pre-Christmas spring in Ukraine when the swallows returned after the long winter. By singing these songs, people blessed each other with a good year of harvest. So why do I label it as a Christmas song? In 1922, the Ukrainian song was altered. Peter J. Wilhousky arranged a new English version that is well-known as Carol of the Bells, a popular Christmas song that attracted even more attention with its use in the movie Home Alone (Chris Columbus, 1991). Many people do not know or question the origin of the famous English version, which I believe to be a shame as the story behind the original ritual song and its lyrics are rather interesting. 

Books, Short Stories and Poems:

My last recommendation is not considered one of the classics for Christmas. However, I thought it to be rather interesting. “Journey of the Magi is a poem by the modernist writer T.S. Eliot. It retells the story of the birth of Christ by focusing on one of the magi’s perspectives. As I just mentioned, it is important to note that its author was an influential writer of modernist literature, so typical themes such as alienation and anxiety in an ever-changing world can be found. I think this poem shows another side of Christmas stories that might not be as popular as it can sometimes be hard to understand the meaning behind the words and verses, however, I still think it would be interesting to approach this poem as a literary challenge. 

Movies/ Series:

  • The Family Stone (dir. Thomas Bezucha, 2005)
  • Love Actually (dir. Richard Curtis, 2003)
  • The Grinch (dir. Ron Howard, 2000)
  • Santa Clause (dir. John Pasquin, 1995)
  • Dash & Lily (Joe Tracz, 2020)
  • Three Wishes for Cinderella (dir. Václav Vorlíček, 1973)

Here are some Christmas traditions and activities that I have enjoyed over the years.

  • Feuerzangenbowle (dir. Helmut Weiss, 1944): Every year, a couple of days before Christmas, my whole family gets together to watch the German movie while having the actual drink. While this is an activity catering to the family’s adults, the children can enjoy their hot apple juice from authentic cups as well. Even though their drinks cannot be prepared the same way, they are always fascinated by the Feuerzangenbowle, prepared with a sugar cone on fire on top of the mug. This became a rather important tradition in my hometown as many families, neighbourhood clubs and even our university started to organize Feuerzangenbowle nights in the days before Christmas.
  • Silly Christmas Pictures: Ugly Christmas Sweaters, DIY Christmas-themed headbands, recreating Christmas movie scenes as pictures
  • Mince Pie Movie Marathons: During my time in England, I was introduced to many traditions from the UK. One that stuck with me was our Mince Pie Fridays. It is not an official tradition but a thing my family enjoyed a lot, it was a great way to introduce Christmas into a stressful week. Every Friday, after work and school, we would meet at home, prepare British Mince Pies and watch Christmas movies together. It was a great way to combine bonding time, relaxation and Christmas. 
  • Christmas Crackers: They are an English must-have for Christmas, children can enjoy the little gifts inside.

Merry Christmas!

Lisa A.

Am 20. Dezember 1968 starb Max Brod. Bis heute ist er insbesondere als enger Freund Franz Kafkas bekannt. Er war es auch, der nach Kafkas Tod dessen Schriften veröffentlichte, statt sie, wie von Kafka gewünscht, zu verbrennen. Er selbst war Schriftsteller der sogenannten Prager deutschen Literatur. Aber was bedeutet das?

Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts und zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts gab es in Prag zahlreiche Schriftsteller:innen, die deutsche Literatur veröffentlicht haben. Dass in Prag so viele Menschen Deutsch sprachen, lag daran, dass die Oberschicht im Königreich Böhmen bis 1620 deutschsprachig war, auch wenn in Prag selbst mehrheitlich tschechisch gesprochen wurde. Um 1900 waren Deutsche die größte Minderheit in Prag, aber auch die jüdische Bevölkerung nahm eine große Rolle ein. Tatsächlich waren die meisten Autor:innen der Prager deutschen Literatur jüdischer Herkunft, und so ist die Literatur dieser Zeit geprägt von jüdischen und tschechischen Einflüssen. Vertreter:innen der Prager deutschen Literatur sind neben Max Brod und Franz Kafka insbesondere Franz Werfel, Egon Erwin Kisch, Anna Seghers, Gustav Meyrink, Auguste Hauschner und Lenka Reinerová. Letztere wird häufig als die letzte Vertreterin der Prager deutschen Literatur bezeichnet.

Die Weltkriege und der Nationalsozialismus hinterließen tiefe Spuren in der Prager Literaturszene. Viele Autor:innen flüchteten ins Exil. Dem Schrecken der NS-Diktatur konnten sie trotzdem nicht vollständig entkommen. So ist zum Beispiel verzeichnet, dass im Konzentrationslager Ravensbrück nicht nur die Schwestern Kafkas und seine Geliebte und Übersetzerin Milena Jesesnká (bekannt durch die Briefe an Milena) starben, sondern auch die Familie von Lenka Reinerová. Dies verarbeitete sie in ihrer berühmten Erzählung Ausflug zum Schwanensee. Mit dem Nationalsozialismus endete auch die Prager deutsche Literatur.

— Susanna Frank

Nothing is impossible to a determined woman,” said Louisa May Alcott, a famous American author and feminist. This quote shows how Alcott challenged the gender roles of her time and was determined to change the narrative of women through literature. 

Today, exactly 191 years ago, the female writer was born and in honour of her special day, I would like to talk about women in the 1860s with a special outlook on one of her most famous novels, Little Women

Alcott was an early American feminist and did not try to hide her opposition to the image and expectations of women at the time. Before taking a closer look at her novel, I would like to lead with some historical context. The society of America’s middle class was generally organised in two spheres- the public sphere for men and the private sphere for women. For women, this life in a private sphere meant that they primarily stayed at home, did chores and looked after the children, they were expected to lead an authority-guided domestic life away from the active public sphere. This division of gender roles also stressed the importance of women getting married and having children to look after, this was considered to be their main focus. Furthermore, there are other constrictions just like the lack of voting rights or not being able to own land. If women desired to work, they were only allowed to do so in the domestic sector such as jobs such as housekeeping, cooking, sewing or as midwives. 

Louisa May Alcott’s children’s and coming-of-age novel introduces the March sisters who grew up in poverty while still maintaining the image of a well-off and upper-class mannered family, as they have lost their fortune. The four sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy are raised in a quiet town by their mother, while their father is away serving in the Civil War. The book follows them on their journey from being children to becoming women of society, where they are confronted with societal norms that are put onto women at that time, each sister experiencing this differently. 

Alcott herself was not interested in a sole marriage plot and rather had her characters find themselves and show a development of independence, whether it is the independence of choice just like Mag who decides that she wants to get married, or Jo who has the ambition to write and publish her written works. Did you know that these aspects and the general story of Little Women were loosely inspired by Alcott’s own life by integrating her own and her family’s childhood memories? The most obvious connection is the character Jo. Just like Jo, Louisa May grew up as a tomboy with a passion for writing and a dream of publishing. These ambitions and wishes did not correlate with the expectations of women of her upbringing at that time, however, she did not let it discourage her and attempted to defy society’s rules to reach her goals. This shows her strong-willed character full of determination for a future where women could live as freely as they like and not be reduced to marriage and childbearing. 

Lastly, I would like to give you a list of my favourite works when it comes to feminist literature.

  • Circe by Madeline Miller
  • The Women Men Don’t See by James Tiptree Jr.
  • The Maiden by Kate Foster
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Lisa A.

“The World always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before” is a popular quote from the British writer Neil Gaiman and I believe that every time Gaiman contributes to the literary world, exactly that happens. While his name might not immediately sound familiar, most people have read, watched or heard of at least one of his works. 

Today, in honour of his birthday, I would like to talk about one of his older works recently attracting a large audience. Neil Gaiman is well-known for his graphic novels as he introduced a completely new way of looking at comics, he worked with a new subgenre- the dark fantasy/ horror comics. However, he does not only publish comics but also very well-written fantasy novels such as Good Omens. The novel has already been published in 1990, his early years of being credited as an author, and is a collaboration with Terry Pratchett. In 2019 and 2023 Amazon released two seasons of a series under the same name. The story follows the Demon Crowley and the Angel Aziraphale who attempt to prevent the end of the world- the Armageddon. The chain of events leading to the end of the world is introduced in a satanic order of nuns where the son of Satan is supposed to be switched at birth to a mortal human family. Due to some unfortunate events, the switch does not happen as planned and the set plan for Armageddon 11 years later is challenged. 

Generally, Good Omens is a satirical fantasy and comedy novel about religious themes such as the biblical Apocalypse, portraying the Antichrist as one of the main characters and introducing the Four Horsemen from the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. In its religious takes, the novel also looks at the theme of Good and Evil. The most obvious images here are Crowley, as the symbol of evil, and Aziraphale, as the symbol of good. But throughout the story many lines between good and evil get rather blurry- Crowley also has good characteristics and does good deeds, while Aziraphale is not as pure as an Angel is expected to be, both show that no one can be either good or evil, there are always choices that determine a direction but elements of the respective side will always be present. 

Unfortunately, only season 1 of the show follows the original novel’s storyline and plot, so if you have been a big fan of season 2 you will not be able to read about its events in the book. Nevertheless, I would recommend reading Gaiman and Pratchett’s book as it is a humorous and enthralling read and, if you are familiar with the show, it is also rather interesting to see how the book came to life in the Amazon adaptation.

Further Book Recommendations:

  • American Gods (Novel)
  • The Sandman (Comic Book Series)
  • Coraline (Novella)
  • The Graveyard Book (Graphic Novel)

Movie/Series Recommendations:

  • Good Omens (BBC and Amazon Studios, 2019)
  • Coraline (dir. Henry Selick, 2009)
  • Sandman (Netflix Series, 2022)
  • Stardust (dir. Matthew Vaughn, 2007)
  • American Gods (dir. Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, Amazon 2017-21)

Fun Facts:

  • Did you know that the TV series Lucifer has loosely adopted the character of the Devil portrayed in Gaiman’s comic book series The Sandman?
  • In 2006 an album with a collection of songs by various artists was released. Each song was inspired by Neil Gaiman and his literary works. The album is called “Where’s Neil When You Need Him?”

Event Recommendation:

On November 20, 2023, Neil Gaiman will appear in the British Library for the event “Why We Need Fantasy: Neil Gaiman in Conversation”. The event will also be live streamed and the recordings are available online for a week. The event and the online stream are not free and require tickets, pricing from £3.25-16. If you are interested in this event you will find further information through the link below. 


Lisa A.

The days are getting shorter, the sky darker and the weather colder- the long and sunny summer is over and the season of autumn begins. When I think about autumn, I think about pumpkins, cosy sweaters, scarecrows, long walks through landscapes full of paths of orange and yellow leaves and most importantly, curling up with a cup of tea and my favourite books,  TV shows or movies. The spooky season, which begins on October 1st, leads up to a day full of spooky fun, scary movies and maybe even trick-or-treating, but personally, a major event, that has been very dear to me since childhood, is choosing different books and poems to read during this time, literature that represents the atmosphere of Halloween, texts that are scary or just have themes that are a bit darker than my usual reads.

One of the works I annually circle back to is Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven”. Poe is a classic example of Gothic Literature, a genre that portrays a rather haunted and dark aesthetic- a perfect read for this season.  The Raven portrays two main presences, the unnamed narrator who is alone, distracting himself from the grief of losing his lover, and the supernatural element of a talking raven that suddenly taps on the window in the middle of the night. From the beginning, the narrator shows hope that Lenore, his lost love, has finally returned to him or that the afterlife will eventually grant them to see each other again. However, the raven’s presence immediately takes these hopes away by simply saying “Nevermore”, which is also the only word it uses throughout the poem. As a result of this loss of love, the hopelessness that comes with this grief haunts him and he drives himself into madness. While it might not seem like a poem fit for the sentiment of Halloween, Poe creates a haunting and even frightening atmosphere by writing about the grief of losing loved ones and never really overcoming this, never being able to let go and living a life full of uncertainty and pain that, in the worst case, can lead to madness. 

But Poe’s poem is already over 100 years old so it might not be an immediate choice of poetry for many people. But what if it can be connected to a more contemporary work, one that attracts a younger audience in the form of film? Last November the Netflix Series Wednesday debuted and it was obvious that it quickly became a fan-favourite. The basic summary is that Wednesday Adams is sent to a boarding school called ‘Nevermore Academy’, learns to use her slowly developing psychic abilities and discovers shocking secrets along the way. One thing that sounds familiar here, next to the well-known Addams family, is “Nevermore Academy”, a name that correlates to the raven’s message in Edgar Allan Poe’s poem. Yet, it is not only the school’s name that draws a connection to Poe and his literary work, as the whole series references him quite a lot- it has become a returning theme, a theme connected to admiration.

Did you know that the Netflix series Wednesday has such close ties with Edgar Allan Poe? Did you draw the connection between The Raven and the Nevermore Academy? Can you find any other references throughout the season? (Clue: There are 8 major ones!)

Further Recommendation:

Wednesday is not the only show that makes use of the famous gothic writer, as “The Fall of the House of Usher”, a popular drama miniseries from 2023, is based on one of Poe’s short stories of the same name. 

Next to that, the movie The Pale Blue Eye makes use of his actual person and follows Detective Landor on his investigation of a series of murders with the help of a cadet at West Point who turns out to be Edgar Allan Poe.

Lisa A.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

(Rainer Maria Rilke: „Herbsttag“, 1902)

Der Oktober hat begonnen und mit ihm kommt der Herbst. Orangene und gelbe Blätter fallen langsam von den Bäumen, es wird wieder kälter und früher dunkel. Zeit also, sich mit einem heißen Getränk auf eine Bank im Park zu setzen und vielleicht ein paar Gedichte zu lesen.

Der Wechsel der Jahreszeiten ist seit jeher ein beliebtes Motiv für Literatur. Wie an Rilkes Gedicht zu sehen ist, wird der Herbst häufig mit Dunkelheit, Stille, Melancholie und Einsamkeit assoziiert. Die Gedichte können aber auch von Veränderung, Farben und Aufbruch handeln. Neben Rilke gibt es natürlich auch viele andere Autor:innen, die den Herbst in ihrer Lyrik thematisieren. Hierzu gehören unter anderem Theodor Storm, Joseph Eichendorff, Clara Müller-Jahnke und Luise Büchner.

In Schulen kann die Lektüre von Herbstlyrik eine spannende Möglichkeit sein, sich alltagsnah mit dem Wechsel der Jahreszeiten auseinanderzusetzen. Um die Gedichte mit mehr Leben zu füllen, bieten sich Spaziergänge mit den Klassen an, in denen unterwegs einzelne Texte vorgelesen und besprochen werden können.

— Susanna Frank

Summer Reads 2023

English · 3 July 2023

I have very specific expectations of my summer reads. Only recently did I realize this when I had to explain to someone why I couldn’t possible take a hardcover fantasy novel set in winter on vacation. It’s not that I have anything against fantasy novels, hardcovers, or winter (well, that one a bit). But, summer reads just have a special place in my heart and therefore need to fulfill certain criteria. This started as a child, when I would try to cram as many books into my carry-on as possible, fully taking into account that these books would not survive the trip unscathed. That being said, here are my summer read suggestions that fulfill the following criteria for the perfect summer read!

  • The one thing I need my summer reads to be is “not brick-like”: If the book is the smallest format of paperback available and less than 400 pages, I’ll be a happy camper (sometimes literally)! This way, I can take multiple books along no matter what my luggage situation is. “Classic literature” is perfect for this as these works are usually shorter in length. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare doesn’t only fit in terms of length and format but also theme, which brings me to my second criterion.
  • What constitutes as a “summery theme” is, of course, different for everyone. Personally, I regularly find myself gravitating towards the same three genres: mystery, mythology, and romance. The novels One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus or We Were Liars by E. Lockhart both offer a short-form introduction to crime and mystery for young readers looking to get into the genre, with the latter even being set at a lake house in summer! Romance novels like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saéz are wonderful for readers looking for something light and cheerful. A fairly specific genre I really enjoy in summer time is fantasy novels that are loosely based off of Greek mythology! The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan is a great example of a novel suited for younger readers interested in this subject. More advanced readers may enjoy texts like the lyrically beautiful Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller or Ariadne by Jennifer Saint!

Now I, of course, understand that these suggestions only suit my idea of “summer reads”. How do you choose which books make the cut for your summer vacation? Share them with us!


“I am hungry. Therefore I am.” – Garfield

For over forty years, the Monday-hating but lasagna-loving, not over-weighted but under-tall cat brings joy to everyone worldwide.

On 19th June 1978, the first comic strip about the iconic egocentric cat and his somewhat dorky owner Jon Arbuckle was published. Since then, Garfield was everywhere: his adventures were published in more than 2500 newspapers, 100 countries, and 40 languages all over the world.

Why seems everyone to be so infatuated with this cat? He is very impolite, fat, lazy, and always puts himself first – but he is also a cat with a warm and loveable personality. He is a real antihero who unites within himself almost all of the bad characteristics a human could have – and people celebrate him for it. And maybe this is the reason: He is selfish and doesn’t care about it. He is like an old friend who makes us feel a little bit better by showing us that it’s alright not to perform perfectly all the time and that being selfish sometimes helps to protect ourselves. And let’s be honest: When we are on our own, don’t we secretly celebrate Garfield’s behaviour? Don’t we sometimes identify ourselves with him? I think we do indeed. And when being in a good mood, we might reflect on our behaviour and find that life is not bad at all and we should not take ourselves too seriously.

This red tabby cat is a fixed component of pop culture and an excellent resource in the EFL classroom: The drawings are lovely and easy to catch. The vocabulary is quite easy to understand, and above all, students will find points of connection to their own lives very quickly. Moreover, Garfield’s philosophy is very light-hearted and easy to get for everyone – thus, it can motivate to access more challenging tasks. So, teachers, it’s up to you because (to let Garfield speak in his own wise words): “If you are patient…and wait long enough…Nothing will happen!”


Sommerzeit ist Lesezeit – und damit Gelegenheit, sich mit den Nominierungslisten des Preises der Leipziger Buchmesse und des Deutschen Jugendliteraturpreises zu beschäftigen. Beide wurden am 23.3. 2023 verkündet, der Preis der Buchmesse am 27.4. verliehen, während der Deutsche Jugendliteraturpreis am 20.10. im Rahmen der Frankfurter Buchmesse verliehen wird.

Für den Deutschen Jugendliteraturpreis wurden 32 Titel von 669 eingereichten Bewerbungen aus rund 7.500 Titeln nominiert, die jährlich auf dem deutschen Kinder- und Jugendliteraturmarkt erscheinen. Der Deutsche Jugendliteraturpreis kann in dieser unübersichtlichen Fülle an Angebot eine erste Orientierungshilfe bieten. Die Nominierungen der Kritikerjury sind in die Kategorien Bilderbuch, Kinderbuch, Jugendbuch und Sachbuch gegliedert, gesondert herausgestellt werden der Preis der Jugendjury und der Sonderpreis Neue Talente. Die Zusammenstellung der nominierten Titel ist in Form und Inhalt abwechslungsreich und die kurzen Inhaltsangaben der Jurys wirken teilweise sofort lesemotivierend. Vertreten sind neben Romanen spielerische Bilderbücher zum Mitmachen (Wie man bis eins zählt oder Spinne spielt Klavier), Versromane (Die Sonne, so strahlend und Schwarz) und Graphic Novels (Harte Schale, Weichtierkern).

Auch auf inhaltlicher Ebene stellt die Nominierungsliste eine Auswahl an Literatur dar, die eine Vielfalt an Identifikationsangeboten für Kinder und Jugendliche bietet: Die Titel handeln unter anderem von dem Verhältnis zwischen den Generationen (Wie anders ist alt), queerer Liebe (Queergestreift), Verlust (Birdie und ich) und Kinderarmut (Nordstadt). Viele Protagonist:innen scheinen auf der Suche nach ihrer Identität für sich und innerhalb der Gesellschaft zu sein, stellen dabei aber verschiedene Lebensbereiche in den Fokus. Die Vorsitzende der Kritikerjury, Prof. Dr. Iris Kruse fasst zusammen: „Es sind kraftvolle Titel, die mit beachtlicher Kreativität Themen verhandeln, die für ein gerechtes und gutes Zusammenleben in einer Gesellschaft wichtig sind.“ Die Nominierungsliste für den Deutschen Jugendliteraturpreis kann daher auch für den Deutschunterricht interessant sein und die Bücherwahl für das kommende Schuljahr inspirieren. Lit4School wird in den nächsten Wochen und Monaten nominierte Titel in der Datenbank aufnehmen und – sofern schon vorhanden – die Praxistipps für eine Umsetzung im Unterricht des Arbeitskreis Jugendliteratur verlinken.

Perspektivreich für den Deutschunterricht – und somit lohnend für die Sommerlektüre von Lehrkräften – sind auch die Nominierungen für den Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse: Neben Dinçer Güçyeters Unser Deutschlandmärchen, dem Gewinner, wurden Ulrike Draesners Die Verwandelten Joshua Groß’ Prana Extrem, Clemens Setz’ Monde vor der Landung sowie Angela Steideles Aufklärung nominiert. Auch auf dieser Liste findet sich eine Fülle von Themen und Formen: Das Gewinnerbuch Unser Deutschlandmärchen zeichnet in experimentellen Formen, die Gebete, Monologe, Dialoge und Chöre verbinden die Suche einer türkisch-deutschen Familie nach Sprache und Heimat. Im Mittelpunkt steht das Anwerbeabkommen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, dessen Folgen für die Angeworbenen vor allem aus weiblicher Sicht dargestellt werden. Unser Deutschlandmärchen könnte als Gegenstand des Deutschunterrichts vor allem für westdeutsche Bundesländer mit einem hohen Anteil Türkeistämmiger interessant sein.

Eine ganz andere, aber ebenfalls weiblich dominierte und transnationale Familiengeschichte erzählt Ulrike Draesners Die Verwandelten. In der Begründung der Jury heißt es: “Die Verwandelten sind Frauen, die im Zuge von Krieg und Ideologie ihre Rolle oder gar ihre Identität wechseln mussten. Ulrike Draesner folgt den weiblichen Linien einer verzweigten Familie, um über Macht und deren Wirkung zu erzählen. Die zeitlich und regional unterschiedlich gefärbte Sprache des Romans, die auch Humor kennt, führt drängend zu Fragen der Gegenwart.”

Sächsichen Lehrkräften möchten wir besonders Angela Steideles Aufklärung ans Herz legen: Dieser Roman über das Leipzig des 18. Jahrhunderts wird erzählt von Dorothea Bach, der ältesten Tochter Johann Sebastian Bachs. Auch hier dominiert also ein weiblicher Blick und stiftet ungewöhnliche Einsichten in die Kultur der Aufklärung, in Musik, Dichtung und Wissenschaft des 18. Jahrhunderts. Durch den “fremden” Blick Dorothea Bachs erweisen sich viele der behandelten Themen als überraschend aktuell.

— Silke Horstkotte und Charlotte Nagels

Da mählich gründet der Boden sich, Und drüben, neben der Weide,
Die Lampe flimmert so heimatlich,
Der Knabe steht an der Scheide.
Tief atmet er auf, zum Moor zurück Noch immer wirft er den scheuen Blick: Ja, im Geröhre war’s fürchterlich,

O schaurig war’s in der Heide!
(Annette von Droste Hülshoff: Der Knabe im Moor, 1842)

Annette von Droste Hülshoff (voller Name: Anna Elisabeth Franziska Adolphina Wilhelmine Ludovica Freiin von Droste zu Hülshoff) starb heute vor 175 Jahren: am 24. Mai im Jahre 1848. Als ihr Vermächtnis hinterließ sie uns nicht nur Musikstücke, sondern auch Balladen, Lyrik und ihre berühmte Novelle die Judenbuche. Wenngleich zu Lebzeiten recht unbekannt, kannte doch jede Person, die vor 2001 geboren wurde, ihr Gesicht: Sie war auf dem 20-DM-Schein gedruckt.

In Westfalen bei Münster geboren und aufgewachsen, wird gerade ihre Naturlyrik stark von den Eindrücken ihrer Heimat geprägt. Dort findet man insbesondere Beschreibungen von Wiesen, Heiden und Moorlandschaften. Diese werden nicht nur idyllisch, sondern mitunter auch gespenstisch beschrieben, wie der Auszug aus Der Knabe im Moor zeigt. Durch diese Motive wird sie häufig auch als Dichterin des Münsterlandes bezeichnet. Relevant für den schulischen Kontext ist Droste-Hülshoff vor allem deshalb, weil sie als eine von nur wenigen Frauen im bestehenden Kanon etabliert ist. Heute gilt sie als eine der bekanntesten und berühmtesten deutschen Dichterinnen.

— Susanna Frank

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.

-C.S. Lewis

Tea, being the second most consumed drink after water, has been enjoyed and cherished by many around the world for centuries. The undeniable sense of comfort and warmth that comes from a steaming cup of tea is, in a way, universal. However, there aren’t many countries that have given their hearts to tea quite as much as Great Britain. Did you know that, on average, Brits drink 2-3 cups of tea a day? So, it’s no wonder that the beverage has a history of being linked to a sense of “Englishness”. Even in literature, tea is featured and mentioned quite regularly! In The Importance of Being Earnest, having tea (perhaps with some cucumber sandwiches) is portrayed as the gentleman’s way of socializing. And while tea can be viewed as that which is “socially acceptable and proper”; it can therefore also be used to contrast that which is not. In Alice in Wonderland, the tea party can be viewed as a mocking display of societal norms, a parallel to a society in which an act as simple as drinking tea could be linked to an absurd amount of social expectations and rules. So, whether you like your tea paired with an appropriate amount of English biscuits or a colorful Mad Hatter outfit, take today to celebrate one of the world’s most iconic beverages! Happy Tea Day!


Raumschiffe, Lichtschwerter, Wesen von einem anderem Stern – das Star-Wars-Universum zählt zu den bekanntesten Franchises der Welt. Schon seit dem Jahre 1977 begeistert George Lucas’ „Krieg der Sterne“ Millionen von Fans und wurde zum bis dahin erfolgreichsten Film der Filmgeschichte. Im Mittelpunkt steht der junge Luke Skywalker, der von seinem Meister Obi-Wan Kenobi zu einem Jedi-Ritter ausgebildet wird, um gegen das totalitäre System des Imperiums und dessen Anführer, den Diktator Darth Vader zu kämpfen und so die Galaxis zu befreien.

Aus den Filmen wurden Bücher, die von mehreren Autor*innen verfasst wurden. Im Jahr 1999 kam Episode I –  Die dunkle Bedrohung von Terry Brooks auf den Markt und wurde seither stark rezipiert. Die Reihe ist dem Genre Science Fiction zuzuordnen. Science Fiction ist zusammen mit Fantasy und Horror ein Teil des Metagenres Fantastik. Dabei geht es um fiktive Zukunftsszenarien oder alternative Vergangenheiten, oft in dystopischem Kontext. In diesen Universen spielen wissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse und futuristische Technologien eine große Rolle. Häufig genutzte Elemente sind Zeitreisen, außerirdische Lebensformen und neuartige Medikamente, Fortbewegungsmittel  oder Waffen. So ist auch in Star Wars das Reisen bei Lichtgeschwindigkeit in technisch hochkomplizierten Raumschiffen von Planet zu Planet ein wichtiges Element, die Laser-Blaster immer im Rucksack dabei. Andere berühmte Science-Fiction-Romane sind unter anderem Schöne neue Welt von Aldous Huxley, 1984 von George Orwell und Fahrenheit 451 von Ray Bradbury.

Die Faszination, die in dem Erschaffen einer Sci-Fi-Welt liegt, gründet zum einem darin, dass das Fortschreiten der technischen und wissenschaftlichen Entwicklung unserer Zeit Lesenden das Gefühl gibt, es sei zumindest im Bereich des Möglichen, dass sich unsere Welt einmal in diese Richtung entwickelt. Wenn sich künstliche Intelligenz und Roboter im selben rasanten Tempo weiterentwickeln wie bisher, was spricht dagegen, dass künftig jeder Haushalt einen Androiden besitzt, der im Alltag hilft, wie bei Star Wars? Aber die zukünftigen Welten wecken auch Angst: Was spräche dagegen, dass diese Androiden irgendwann zu einer Waffe werden, die in Kriegen eingesetzt wird? Häufig werden reale Ängste und Problematiken verarbeitet. So auch die Angst, dass uns unsere Technologien irgendwann überholen. Oftmals werden auch koloniale Vergangenheiten und Invasionen, totalitäre Systeme, Umweltkatastrophen und Ressourcenknappheit aufgegriffen und kritisiert. Auch in Star Wars werden solche Verbindungen hergestellt. So ist der Kampf zwischen den Rebellentruppen und der Schreckensherrschaft des Imperiums beispielsweise an die Vietnamkriege und das nationalsozialistische Regime angelehnt und bietet so einen Raum, um auf die politischen Geschehnisse der Vergangenheit und Gegenwart zu reagieren.

So lässt dieses Genre zwar genug Platz für Fantasie und Fiktion, spielt aber auch mit realen Ängsten und Konflikten in unserer heutigen Gesellschaft. Damit sind Bücher dieser Art insbesondere für Schulklassen geeignet, da hier auf spannende und faszinierende Art über aktuelle Themen gesprochen werden kann.

— Susanna Frank

Easter Reads 2023

English · 9 April 2023

Why did the Easter egg hide? Because he was a little chicken…

Happy Easter everyone! Spring is here and so is painting eggs and bunny-themed everything! And while it is wonderful to spend quality time with your loved ones on holidays, sometimes some alone time with a good book can be just as relaxing! So why not stay in the holiday spirit with some Easter-themed reads? Here are some of my favorites:

  • Watership Down by Richard Adams: What better way to celebrate Easter than with some literature about rabbits? This anthropomorphic novel tells a tale of social unrest, community and hope, all kick-started by man-made environmental destruction. Fiver, a young rabbit with a sixth sense, is part of the Sandleford warren. He starts having disturbing visions of his home’s destruction and, along with his older brother Hazel, tries, to no avail, to convince the chief rabbit to evacuate. The siblings take off together with 9 other members, starting a journey of adventure and struggle.
  • Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne: More stories featuring rabbits (well, one rabbit)! This nostalgic coming-of-age story is about everything from friendship, abilities and weaknesses to childhood and imagination. Winnie-the-Pooh is a honey-loving teddy bear who lives in the forest. There, he experiences all kinds of adventures together with his friends: A piglet, an owl, a rabbit, a donkey, a kangaroo and a boy named Christopher Robin.
  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis: If you’re looking for something less “on the nose”, give this classic a try! In this fantasy novel set during 1940s wartime, four children are relocated to a large house in the English countryside. When the youngest, Lucy, is transported to Narnia through an old wardrobe, she discovers a new and captivating world. But no world is perfect, and the siblings are soon thrown into an adventure where they must save this beautiful place they have only just discovered. As for the connection to Easter, you will notice quite a bit of religious symbolism and parallels to the biblical concept of resurrection in this novel!

I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating Easter or simply enjoying some much-needed relaxation! Let us know if you have any specific Easter book recommendations we should take a look at!


April Fool’s Day

English · 1 April 2023

Although there is no known singular origin of April Fool’s Day, some of the best pranks have taken place on this holiday! In 1997, a group of comic-strip artists decided to poke fun at their readers by drawing each other’s comic-strips for the day! This Comic Strip Switcheroo led to a lot of confused readers and convoluted plotlines that are still being analyzed today! But, even without swapped characters and layers of intertextuality, comic-strips are a great way to add some humor to the reading experience! Here are some of my favorites:

  • Not Sparking Joy: A Zits Treasury by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgmann: Making its debut in 1997, Zits comics narrate the everyday life of 15-year-old Jeremy; a teenager living in Ohio. But suburban life and high school come with their own set of problems. Whether it be about the embarrassment that parents are to teens or the other way around, there’s something for everyone in this giggle-inducing comic series!
  • Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson: Calvin may seem like a normal 6-year-old living in suburban America with his family and stuffed tiger “Hobbes”. To Calvin though, Hobbes is very much alive and his best friend and companion. Named after two philosophers, the pair is regularly immersed in deep conversations, often humorously lacking in the childlike expressions you would expect. But, just like any child, Calvin has plenty to say about his caricature-like parents, friends and distaste for homework.

Happy April Fool’s Day!


I’ve only recently started enjoying romance novels. And while I’ve quickly come to appreciate the lovable characters and feel-good endings, I’ve realized not everyone is a fan. Romance novels often get a lot of flak for being “shallow” or not being good for anything but escapism. However, I want to argue that romance novels can greatly benefit young students and are a worthy addition to the EFL classroom.

Of course, reading for fun in and of itself makes a book worth reading. If reading wasn’t fun, teenagers would probably be the first to ditch the activity (as many have done and will continue to do). So I think one shouldn’t underestimate the value enjoyable characters and fun plots can bring to the reading experience! But, of course romance novels bring much more to the table than “fun”. They can address a myriad of important topics surrounding sexuality and emotional well-being. Discussing books like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Alberta or Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda could help facilitate classroom conversations about sexual identity. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green could be a gateway to talking about emotions that often accompany love, like grief and heartbreak. I think the insight these novels give into interpersonal relationships and in what way the characters navigate their emotions and difficult situations should not be ignored, but instead discussed openly with students.

Furthermore, romance novels are rarely one-dimensional or limited to one genre. They open up the reader’s world to a variety of different themes and settings. As such, I am convinced that there is a perfect romance novel out there for every student! While lovers of dystopias could enjoy Delirium by Lauren Oliver or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, others might like to go the more classic route and jump into the vast sea of classics. These novels can give insight into different historical contexts and act as a base layer with which to explore the literary periods. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde or Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin may act as examples of Victorian literature, whereas Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin paints a modernist picture of 1950s Paris.

I hereby rest my case in defense of romance novels! Do you have any favorite romance novels you think students would enjoy? We’d love for you to share your suggestions with us!


“Because when I look at you, I can feel it. And I look at you and I’m home.”

– Dory, Finding Nemo

In light of the world’s annual celebration of love, I hope these recommendations can ignite the romantic spark needed to get in the Valentine’s Day spirit!

  • For everyone in need of a heartwarming coming-of-age tale: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáez tells a beautiful and realistic love story full of emotions, even if that sometimes includes doubt. When Ari and Dante meet at the local pool, they appear to have virtually nothing in common. Dante is a mystery to Ari with his love for poetry and eloquent expressions. But as the pair spends the summer together, they grow closer and closer. 
  • For all the cinephiles: WALL-E follows the life of an adorable robot. He spends his days collecting garbage on a deserted Earth, made uninhabitable by human behavior. When he is visited by a probe, EVE, he falls madly in love with her and follows her across the galaxy back to her spaceship. If crossing galaxies for someone isn’t love, what is?
  • For the musical fans: West Side Story by Steven Spielberg tells the story of territorial and personal conflict between two gangs in 1957 Manhattan’s West Side. Prior to a planned ‘rumble’ between the Jets and Puerto Rican Sharks, Tony and Maria meet at a local dance. They immediately fall in love, and thus starts a modern version of Romeo and Juliet accompanied by beautiful music.
  • For the poetry lovers: Sonnet 18: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day by William Shakespeare may be one of the most-read romantic poems of all time. The speaker of the poem states that while a summer’s day fades away, the beauty of the addressee will not, as it is preserved in the lines of the sonnet.

And for those not in search of romance but still wanting to stay on theme, take a look at Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay! This historical mystery novel follows a group of girls at an Australian girls’ boarding school. When the group suddenly disappears while out on a Valentine’s Day picnic, the local community grapples with trying to make sense of these mysterious happenings. Lindsay’s work is widely considered one of Australia’s greatest novels and is definitely worth a read!

May your Valentine’s Day be filled with laughter and joy, shared with those who make you feel at home no matter where you are.