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Vor 110 Jahren starb am 14. Mai 1912 der schwedische Schriftsteller und Künstler August Strindberg. Strindberg verfasste neben Romanen, Gedichten und Novellen vor allem Dramen, durch die er auch international bekannt wurde. Er wurde am 22. Januar 1849 als Sohn einer Familie des Mittelstandes in Stockholm geboren. Sein Vater war Dampfschiffkomissionär, seine Mutter starb an Tuberkulose, als Strindberg 13 Jahre alt war. Seine Kindheit und Jugend waren geprägt von vielen Wohnortswechseln und er wurde in dieser Zeit eher als verschlossen und schüchtern beschrieben. Auch wenn Musik und Theater in seiner Familie thematisiert wurden, wurde sein künstlerisches Interesse erst später geweckt.
1867 begann Strindberg das Studium der „Ästhetik und lebenden Sprachen“ in Uppsala und war nebenher als Grundschul- und Hauslehrer tätig. Zwei Jahre später versuchte er sich als Schauspieler, nahm jedoch sein Studium 1870 wieder auf. Kurz darauf brach er es aus finanziellen Gründen wieder ab und kehrte nach Stockholm zurück, wo er zunächst als Journalist und Redakteur, später dann als Sekretär in der königlichen Bibliothek arbeitete. Er lernte die Schauspielerin Siri von Essen kennen und sie heirateten 1877. In dieser Zeit schaffte Strindberg auch seinen literarischen Durchbruch mit dem satirischen Gesellschaftsroman Das rote Zimmer (1879) und der Aufführung seines Dramas Meister Olof. Er erfuhr für weitere gesellschaftskritische Werke scharfe Kritik und verließ daraufhin 1883 mit seiner Familie Stockholm und lebte in Frankreich, in der Schweiz und in Dänemark. Im Jahr darauf musste Strindberg für eine Gerichtsverhandlung nach Stockholm zurückkehren, da er durch die Veröffentlichung seiner Novellensammlung Heiraten (1884) wegen Gotteslästerung angeklagt wurde. Siri von Essen und August Strindberg ließen sich 1891 scheiden und das darauffolgende Jahr verbrachte er in Berlin, wo er zu einem Freundeskreis von skandinavischen und deutschen Schriftstellern und Malern gehörte. Von 1893 bis 1897 war Strindberg mit der Journalistin Maria Friederike Uhl verheiratet und lebte in Österreich, bis er 1897 wieder nach Schweden zurückkehrte. Mit dem Ende der Ehe erlitt er psychische Krisen, auch die sogenannte Inferno-Krise. Es folgte von 1898 bis 1907 eine sehr produktive Zeit. So entstanden in dieser Zeit beispielsweise die Trilogie Nach Damaskus I-III (1898-1904) sowie weitere Dramen, die nachhaltigen Einfluss auf die Theatergeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts in Europa hatten. In dieser Zeit (1901-1904) war er auch ein drittes Mal verheiratet, mit der Schauspielerin Harriet Bosse. Nach der Scheidung blieb Strindberg in Stockholm, wo er mit 63 Jahren verstarb und auf dem Nordfriedhof begraben liegt.
August Strindberg gehört zu einem der produktivsten Autoren Schwedens; sein Gesamtwerk umfasst mehr als zehn Romane, zehn Novellensammlungen und 60 Dramen. Seine Werke sind nicht nur einer Ideenströmung zuzuordnen. So erlebte er in seinen frühen Jahren als Schriftsteller eine naturalistische Phase, während er sich infolge seiner psychischen Krise in den 1890er Jahren eher dem Expressionismus zuwandte. Seine Schriften sind von sozial- und gesellschaftskritischen Themen geprägt, was ihm nicht nur Lob einbrachte. Sein Verhältnis zur Religion und zur Kirche ist ähnlich ambivalent wie zu der gesellschaftlichen Rolle der Frau und den Frauen in seinem Leben. Er interessierte sich nicht nur für andere Kunstformen, wie der Fotografie und der Malerei, sondern widmete sich auch immer wieder der Wissenschaft. August Strindbergs Werke beeinflussten nicht nur die Literaturszene Schwedens, er inspirierte auch nach seinem Tod weitere Autor*innen und Künstler*innen und galt in Deutschland zwischen 1912 und 1925 als einer der meistgespielten Dramatiker. Lit4School stellt das Trauerspiel Fräulein Julie von August Strindberg vor. Es entstand im Sommer 1888, als Strindberg mit seiner Familie in Kopenhagen lebte.


—Daphne Rose


“Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.”
– Walter Cronkite

World Press Freedom Day promotes the belief that freedom of the press and freedom of speech provide a basis for mutual understanding and sustainable peace. “It serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom – a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended, and closed down, while journalists, editors, and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.”(unesco.org) And we know, we don’t have to travel to the other side of the earth to experience the oppression of journalism. Only recently, we witnessed what happens with freedom of the press and speech during war. How people were arrested for expressing their opinion and demonstrating on the street. How news agencies were shut down or used for propaganda. And, to be honest, from a completely neutral perspective, this is quite logical when fighting a war. It only makes sense to curtail the very rights democracy is built on: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of movement. Allowing those would hinder a tactical approach because information plays a vital role in the war because the success of the next move depends upon what the enemy knows or doesn’t know. The thing is, just because something is logical under certain circumstances, it isn’t necessarily right, especially when the circumstances themselves are so incredibly condemnable. I’m sure many of you were quite confused as well as to which of the news reports to believe since biased or even false reporting was used for propaganda. And it makes me sad and frustrated and feel helpless that democracy and freedom of speech are the first to die in war.

However, I was pretty surprised last week when I learned that the UK is planning to update its Official Secrets Act in a way that, many journalists would say, restricts the press freedom because it creates a chilling effect for journalists and their sources. Basically, it concerns anyone who discloses or spreads secret information. The Home Office claims that the balance between “serious harm” and freedom of the press needs to be found. “It added that officials and journalists are ‘rarely if ever’ in a position to compare the public interest against the potential damage of publication” (BBC Official Secrets Act). I find this strange because I feel this sounds like the job description of a journalist, this seems to be the reason why the press is also called the fourth estate. I don’t want to dive all too deep into this subject here, also because it goes slightly beyond my field of expertise, but if you’re interested have a listen to the corresponding panel of this year’s Festival of Debate Official Secrecy: How Government Plans Threaten Journalists & Whistleblowers.

Last but not least, a few literature or media suggestions:

Of course, George Orwell’s 1984: here even the freedom of thought is abolished. Need I say more?

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood: It focuses on an enclosed thoroughly regulated system also including illegal and ethically condemnable activities, information is smuggled out and leaked to the press. It might not be the main point of the novel, but still an important aspect.

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden: Since whistleblowing and journalism are closely intertwined, this is a great and valuable book that also gives insights in a process of disclosing secret information.

And believe it or not, Bibi Blocksberg and Benjamin Blümchen: Although they are mainly in German, they serve as a perfect example for explaining press freedom and the role of the press in general to children. It may also be used with older students since it’s unconventional, funny, and very accessible. On a very easy level, it shows the mayor as head of town/government/regime constantly acting selfishly and arbitrarily, more than once upsetting the citizens, and Karla Kolumna the fair and diplomatic reporter keeping him at bay.

Of course, I’m always interested in and open to new suggestions!
Have a wonderful day and care for your freedom of speech by caring for the freedom of speech of others!

Sarah-Sophia


My vanity is surely not in vain,
for I see how I ladies fair affect:
they mark me for my vestments – far from plain,
I am in lynx and leopard print bedeck’d.
They also note my grandiose physique:
a single glance shall speedily apprise
each of the strong and vigorous technique
I must employ whilst I oft exercise.
When entering a room, the heads all turn
to look on me; ’tis what I’ve long observ’d.
My comeliness allows me to adjourn
t’ an inn sans shirt or shoes, yet still be serv’d.
– I’ll wiggle on; ’tis charity to show,
for I am sexy – that, I rightly know.

Sounds like Shakespeare and still seems to be familiar from another context? Maybe you’ll be amused to know that one Eric Didriksen took it upon him to transform some beloved songs from our times into an iambic pentameter delight – an homage to the Bard. Maybe you already recognised the origin of the above sonnet? If not, it’s I’m sexy and I know it by LMFAO and I must say, I quite like this version too!
It’s a fun way to get dive into the sometimes a little dusty topic of Shakespearean sonnets as it definitely shows that there can be a quite modern times turn to it. You may find lots of these pop sonnets online on TUMBLR and for those among us (like myself), there also is a book.

For some extra joy, I also recommend one of the Shakespeare insult generator which you may find online like this one. Scholastic provides a worksheet for combining words from three columns to get one powerful expression of contempt. An yet again, there of course is a printed version to be acquired online or, even better, at your local bookshop. This will definitely make the old playwright look cool again and I like to think that he would take much joy out of being remebered as a sharp and quick-witted guy whose weapon really were his words.

As Shakespeare’s exact birthday is unknown, Shakespeare day is dcelebrated on his death day. Shakespeare was loved in his time already and his popularity only grew, I would say. Today he is still one of the most celebrated and widely read British authors. In general, I don’t think reading Shakespeare’s plays is a very effective way to access the great bard as much of the feelings, wit, and atmosphere simply doesn’t come across. Shakespeare has to be experienced, has to be acted out, and/or watched to get a full grasp of his plays.

Usually, a Shakespeare festival takes place in Mühlheim an der Ruhr once a year with open-air performances of one of his plays delivered by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men. The members are traditionally only male actors which might seem strange at first. A few years ago, I sat in the audience enjoying Romeo and Juliet, and despite even Juliet looking slightly brawny and having a teeny-tiny five o’clock shadow, I cried my eyes out when they parted and in the end died.
For is it not Shakespeare where the most lovely, most sorrowful, ghastly, and witty words are to be found?

Lit4School features some of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, adaptations, and related literature as they provide superb insights into the Elizabethan era, especially when looking at them in a more analytic and critical way by comparing the plays with the period itself. Apart from the originals, the occasional easy-reading edition is available as well, making Shakespeare more accessible for a younger audience as well, I, Shakespeare and Mr. William Shakespeare’s Plays being two examples.

The cornucopia of Shakespeare literature and media all around the world shows that the playwright has not lost his relevance, and may, as seen above, still inspire most creative and fruitful ideas.

On that note: “Fair thought and happy hours attend you!” (Merchant of Venice)
Cheers to Shakespeare and his spectacular legacy!

Sarah-Sophia


April 22nd: Earth Day

English · 22 April 2022

Happy World Earth Day! This year’s motto is Invest in Our Planet, an appeal to everyone to preserve and protect our environment. To achieve this, action is crucial. But how? Sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to take action when you don’t even know where to start. The official Earth Day website offers informative live streams as well as an overview of the different events offered globally surrounding Earth Day. Take a look!

Of course, there is also an abundance of literature and films that can help spark the discussion about climate change in the EFL classroom, regardless of age and language level!

  • WALL-E by Andrew Stanton: This animated film follows the life of a small robot called WALL-E. He spends his days collecting garbage on a deserted Earth, made uninhabitable by human behavior. Both a tale of romance and climate change, the film tackles many issues related to over-consumption in modern society.
  • What Happened When We All Stopped by Avi Ofer, Jane Goodall, Tom Rivett-Carnac: This ecocritical, animated short film shares an empowering message: “No time for sorrow, we are building tomorrow.” Following a young girl, the story explores how mankind rediscovers nature during the lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, hopefully, leads us to a brighter, cleaner, and greener future.
  • The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler: A rhyming, eco-critical story about the relativity of prejudices and stereotypes, the importance of friendship and environmental protection: “This is a tale of a tiny snail and a great big, grey-blue humpback whale…”
  • Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers: This beautifully illustrated book presents Earth as something precious that needs to be protected by all generations. The story shows both the beauty of the world as well as its problems while staying optimistic: “Though we have come a long way, we haven’t quite worked everything out, so there is plenty left for you to do.”

We would love to hear your suggestions for literature about climate change!

Sarah


February 24th: Russia starts military invasion in Ukraine, the Russo-Ukrainian conflict escalates. Most of us are shocked by the war events and especially the possibility of a nuclear attack is terribly frightening. Newspapers all over the world are bursting with horrifying headlines. Social media is swamped with guides on how to recognise propaganda and fake news, with tips for donating money, with explanatory videos and charts about politics and strategies, with info about demonstrations near your location and with so much more. And I think this war is difficult to grasp for us as especially younger generations have never experienced military conflicts, never really had to fight, or even think about fighting for their freedom, it’s just something taken for granted. War always happened somewhere but in order to really feel any of the effects, it was simply too far away. Now there is an ongoing war in close proximity. Think about it, from Berlin to Munich it’s approximately 600 kilometres as well as from Berlin to Warsaw. From Warsaw to the Ukrainian border it’s only a relatively small distance of 250 kilometres. Or putting it into yet another proportion, take Iraque, a relevant battle zone of the recent past: Almost 4000 kilometres lie between Berlin and the border of Iraque, nearly 6000 between Berlin and Afghanistan. That’s how close Ukraine, how close this war is.


On top, the economy is affected in such a way that everyone really notices that something’s afoot. How many German citizens thought about petrol for their cars, about their heating system, about the power supply, about what would happen if shortages of these things would arise at some point. Did you know, to name an important example, that about 55% of the German gas supply comes from Russia? Petrol prices are astronomically high and almost unaffordable and now I think three times about whether I really need the car for a trip. I also tried turning off the heating completely in my flat as an experiment, after all, I thought, winter’s kind of over now. And I tell you, it’s not impossible but it’s really nasty. You are cold, not too cold but unpleasantly cold, always and everywhere with the exception of the comfort of a bed at night. For me, the worst thing when working was getting stiff fingers and having difficulties getting them back to working temperature. I thought about what to do in my spare time without using any electricity, also not so easy (I ended up writing a letter which was very nice indeed).


Last here but certainly not least in general: how many Russian or Ukrainian friends, or acquaintances, or friends and family of friends do you have? I count four with whom I speak on a regular basis. One of them picked up a friend with her two twelve-year-old children from Ukraine a few days ago. They don’t speak English or German and couldn’t take much with them. And I try imagining how that must feel for a twelve-year-old.


Now, I know this post may be slightly dramatic and my point of view on this is not the one and only. However, I still wanted to share some experiences I collected over the last few weeks regarding this current and highly relevant topic.

Of course, a few literature suggestions should also not be missing here. In general, I recommend Cold War texts and media as it also deals with the fear of nuclear weapons and of war itself. It also concerns the same parties and is connected to the events of the current conflict.

  • 1984: Orwell’s famous dystopian novel not only explores surveillance but also a totalitarian state severely punishing anyone opposing or criticising the system.
  • You and the Atom Bomb: An Essay also written by Orwell and published in the Tribune in 1945 concerning the relatively new nuclear weapon. Very insightful and a quite accurate description of our present and the current situation.
  • Everything Sad is Untrue: A coming of age novel by Daniel Nayerie focussing on a middle school refugee boy whom no one believes his stories. Maybe relevant for a peek beyond the black and white.
  • When the Wind Blows: Another graphic novel by Raymond Briggs not to be given to younger audiences. It explores the effects of an atomic bomb explosion taking an elderly couple as an example.
  • What if We Nuke a City? : ‘In a Nutshell’ is a German-English youtube channel that focusses on scientific explanations of a great variety of topics. This specific video looks at the direct aftermath of an atomic bomb explosion. Admittedly kind of devastating but still worth watching.
  • The Arrival: This graphic novel does not need a single written word to tell its story about migrating from one country to another. It depicts the story of a man traveling to a strange country to find a new home for his family, encountering loneliness, strange food, and frightening creatures on the way. It might give people insight into just how lonely a new country can be.

Eventually, it’s important to talk about the current situation with its multiple aspects and also, maybe even especially, about one’s individual fears.

Stay Safe!

Sarah-Sophia


Am 9. Februar 2022 wurde bekannt gegeben, dass auch 2022— im dritten Jahr in Folge— keine Leipziger Buchmesse stattfindet. Noch wenige Tage und Wochen zuvor schienen die Zeichen positiv zu stehen, denn die sächsische Corona-Schutzverordnung hätte die Großveranstaltung mit Besuchern und einer 2G-Plus-Regelung zugelassen.

Allerdings hatten zwischenzeitlich zahlreiche Verlage und Aussteller ihre Teilnahme abgesagt. Als Grund wurden Personalmangel für den Messeauftritt und die Befürchtung zahlreicher Ausfälle nach Infektionen genannt. 

Durch die Terminierung im Frühjahr eines jeden Jahres gilt die Leipziger Buchmesse als erster großer Branchentreff und erlaubt dem Publikum das Entdecken von Neuerscheinungen im breiten Rahmen. Denn die Leipziger Buchmesse ist nach der Frankfurter Buchmesse — die zweitgrößte Deutschlands, anders als diese jedoch hauptsächlich eine Publikumsmesse. 

Einige Lichtblicke bleiben für alle Buchliebhaber*innen bestehen. Auf auf dem Gelände des Werk 2 am Connewitzer Kreuz findet die Pop-Up-Buchmesse mit Ausstellungen und Lesungen statt. Über 60 Verlage präsentieren hier an Ständen und in Lesungen ihre Neuerscheinungen. Tickets sind auf zwei Stunden begrenzt und online erhältlich.

Auch der Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse wird trotz der Absage vergeben. Am heutigen Donnerstag, den 17. März 2022 um 16 Uhr, findet die Verleihung in der Glashalle auf dem Leipziger Messegelände statt und kann über die Website im Livestream verfolgt werden. Die siebenköpfige Jury, bestehend aus Literaturkritiker*innen und -wissenschaftler*innen, nominierte unter dem Vorsitz von Insa Wilke insgesamt 15 Autor*innen in den drei Kategorien Belletristik, Sachbuch/Essayistik und Übersetzung. Der hochkarätige Preis, der die Vielfalt von Gegenwartsliteratur abbilden möchte, ist mit 60.000 Euro dotiert und zieht breites Interesse auf sich. Die Spannung steigt also nicht nur bei den Autor*innen, wer die diesjährigen Preisträger*innen sein werden. 

Und: Leipzig liest trotzdem. Dezentral findet das alljährliche Lese-Festival mit Autor*innen-Lesungen und Gesprächen an unterschiedlichen Orten statt. Literatur hat eine Bühne und den Zugang zum Publikum.

 Zuletzt bleibt die Hoffnung auf die Buchmesse vom 2023. Bis dahin: weiterlesen.

— Anne Seeger


A word after a word after a word is power.” – Margaret Atwood

March 8th marks International Women’s Day, which became an International Day of the United Nations in 1977. Every year, this occasion reminds us to celebrate women’s achievements but also to take action for equal rights and opportunities in challenging stereotypes and bias, forging a gender-equal world. Visualising the data reveals the unequal representation of women in today’s society. Only 53 among the 900 individuals that have been awarded the Noble Prize are women. Only 24,9% of the world’s parliamentarians and only 6,6 % of the global CEO’s are women. Compared to men, women earn 23% less and are thus at a greater risk for social stratification. 

This years motto #GenerationEquality #ChooseToChallenge led me to count the number of entries by female authors on our platform. The truth is, we do feature a great variety of women’s writers and illustrators on Lit4School English – to be correct 109 in total. Equality, however, is not reached yet, when we compare this number to 191 entries by male authors. Our commitment to the future is to focus on a more balanced representation, to reach gender equality on Lit4School. 

If you have a suggestion for a female author, which is not featured on our platform yet and should be taught in school, please, suggest an entry.

Simon


Wie kann man den russischen Angriffskrieg gegen die Ukraine im Unterricht behandeln? Schon bald nach dem Angriff veröffentlichte das Landesinstitut für Lehrbildung und Schulentwicklung Hamburg ein Padlet mit Informationen und Unterrichtsressourcen. Auch die Seite Ukraineverstehen des Zentrums liberale Moderne verlinkt eine Fülle an Ressourcen. Die Materialsammlung “Was bedeutet Krieg?” bietet Impulse zu einer allgemeineren Behandlung des Themas Krieg, besonders für jüngere Kinder.

Wir, die Redaktion Deutsch von Lit4School, meinen: auch für den Literaturunterricht lohnt es sich, auf den Krieg in der Ukraine einzugehen, denn viele ukrainische Texte sind ins Deutsche übersetzt, außerdem leben und schreiben in Deutschland eine Reihe von aus der Ukraine stammenden Autor*innen. Dazu stellen wir in diesem Blog-Post eine Reihe von Ressourcen vor. Für unseren Ukraine-Schwerpunkt haben wir bereits Einträge zu folgenden Texten und Autor*innen erstellt, weitere sollen in den nächsten Tagen folgen:

Oleksandr Irwanez: Pralinen vom roten Stern

Katja Petrowskaja: Vielleicht Esther

Natascha Wodin: Sie kam aus Mariupol

Sasha Marianna Salzmann: Im Menschen muss alles herrlich sein

Serhij Zhadan: Internat

Auf der Seite Lyrikline finden sich zahlreiche Gedichte ukrainischer oder aus der Ukraine stammender Lyriker*innen, u.a. von Juri Andruchowytsch, Serhij Zhadan, Miriam Dragina, Olena Herasymyuk und Yevgeniy Breyger.

Neben anspruchsvollen Romanen und Gedichten gibt es auch zahlreiche ukrainische Texte, die bereits für die Sekundarstufe I empfehlenswert sind:

Oksana, es reicht von Maria Kuznetsova erzählt von einer jungen ukrainisch-jüdischen Immigrantin in den USA und den Schwierigkeiten, in einem neuen Land Fuß zu fassen.

In Frau Müller hat nicht die Absicht, mehr zu bezahlen von Natalka Sniadanko machen sich zwei junge Protagonistinnen von Lviv/Lemberg auf den Weg nach Athen, bleiben aber in Berlin hängen.

Die Kurzgeschichtensammlung Skype Mama erzählt von Familien, deren Mütter im Ausland arbeiten und nur online mit ihren Kindern kommunizieren können.

Eine Überblicksdarstellung der ukrainischen Gegenwartsliteratur hat die Slawistin Sylvia Sasse für das geschichtswissenschaftliche Blog Geschichte der Gegenwart verfasst.

Die Literaturdatenbank Vivavostok, eine Kooperation der Internationalen Jugendbibliothek und der Robert Bosch Stiftung, stellt aktuelle Kinder- und Jugendliteratur aus Mittel- und Osteuropa vor.

Der Verein Translit setzt sich für den kulturellen Austausch zwischen dem deutschsprachigen Raum und dem Osten Europas ein. In einem Projekt des Vereins aus dem Jahr 2015 wurden Ausschnitte ukrainischer Kinder- und Jugendliteratur ins Deutsche übersetzt und die Autor*innen dazu vorgestellt.

Der Trabanten-Verlag kuratiert das Instagram-Projekt #ANTIKRIEGSLYRIK. Über den Kanal kann man Gedichte zur aktuellen Thematik einreichen, die dann dort veröffentlicht werden.


March 2nd: Dr. Seuss

English · 2 March 2022

I am what I am! That’s a great thing to be!
If I say so myself, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
” – Dr. Seuss

Today, we celebrate the birthday of the talented political cartoonist, children’s author, illustrator, poet and filmmaker Theodor Seuss Geisel. Probably everyone knows the Grinch, a wonderful Christmas tale in rhymes we featured in our last years’ Christmas Read. But Dr. Seuss also wrote and illustrated many other children’s books like The Cat in the HatThe Lorax, and Horton hears a Who! which are cute, funny at times, and heart-warming but convey a deeper message. He even wrote Beginner Books which are easy to read, use less than 250 different words, and feature beautiful illustrations.

Do you wonder how his pseudonym came into existence? Here is a fun fact from his wild years at university: While studying at Dartmouth College, he wrote for the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern as an undergraduate but was caught drinking Gin. As this, of course, was forbidden during prohibition, Theodor Geisel was banned from the journal and, thus, took on the pseudonym Dr. Seuss so he could continue writing for the journal.

Dr. Seuss is probably one of the most beloved illustrators and authors of children’s books, who invented many iconic figures which are still loved and adapted for movies, musicals, series, books, and many more. Recently, however, six books have been stopped being published because of their inherent racist stereotypes. The publisher Dr. Seuss Enterprises outlined in a statement, that “[these] books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” The ‘cancel culture’ controversy has raised the question which literature deserves to be preserved and which works should be reevaluated and probably canceled from the ‘classic canon’ for young readers. Also, the conflict of making ‘the right’ choice remains a current issue for us, the editors of Lit4School – even though we use selection criteria for our entries.

Sarah-Sophia & Simon


Sie sprechen mehr als eine Sprache? Dann gehören Sie damit zur großen Mehrheit der in Deutschland lebenden Menschen! 

Laut einer Spracherhebung des Leibniz-Instituts und des Deutschen Instituts für Wirtschaftsforschung gaben im Jahr 2018 ein Fünftel der Befragten an, mehr als eine Sprache in ihrem Haushalt zu sprechen. Über ein Drittel aller Schüler*innen sprechen bei der Einschulung neben dem Deutschen noch mindestens eine weitere Sprache, wie das Mercator Institut für Sprachförderung in einem Faktencheck feststellt. Spätestens mit dem Fremdsprachenunterricht in der Schule werden alle Kinder und Jugendlichen mehrsprachig. Diese individuelle Mehrsprachigkeit bedeutet nach heutigem Konsens nicht, dass beide (oder mehrere) Sprachen auf muttersprachlichem Niveau beherrscht werden müssen. Vielmehr definiert sie sich durch die „Fähigkeit […], in mehreren Sprachkontexten zu kommunizieren – und dies unabhängig davon, auf welche Weise die beteiligten Sprachen erworben oder wie gut sie beherrscht werden“.

Sprachliche Vielfalt ist gesellschaftliche Realität und gerade in Schulen und Kitas für viele Kinder alltägliche Normalität. Eine Grundannahme dabei ist, dass für eine effektive Sprachförderung eine sprachenfreundliche Atmosphäre und Wertschätzung von Mehrsprachigkeit die Basis sind – dabei sollte nicht nur auf die (prestigeträchtigen) Schulfremdsprachen eingegangen werden, sondern auch auf die Sprachen die die Schüler*innen aus ihren Familien oder migrationsbedingt mitbringen. Sprachen bieten Zugang zu Wissen und Kultur. Mehrsprachigkeit kann sich zudem positiv auf die kognitive und sprachliche Entwicklung auswirken. Studien zeigen zum Beispiel, dass Kinder, die mehrsprachig aufwachsen, leichter weitere Sprachen lernen und sich besser in andere hineinversetzen können.

Wie kann in Schule und KiTa eine entsprechende Wertschätzung von Mehrsprachigkeit sichtbar gemacht werden?

Anstatt eines „Deutschgebots“ auf Schulhof oder im Unterricht kann zum Beispiel eine freie Sprachwahl bei Gruppen- oder Partnerarbeit angeboten werden – natürlich nur, wenn alle Beteiligten die Sprache beherrschen und einverstanden sind. Das Schulhaus kann mehrsprachig beschildert werden, Begrüßungen können in den verschiedenen Sprachen der Schüler*innen gelernt werden. Schüler*innen können sogenannte Sprachportraits anfertigen, wobei sie in die Umrisse eines Körpers alle Sprachen mit Farben malen und vorstellen, weshalb welche Sprache an welcher Stelle des Körpers verortet wurde. Sprachvergleiche können im Unterricht angestellt werden. Den Ideen sind keine Grenzen gesetzt und sie sollen zu einem unterstützenden Umgang führen.

Wir, als Team von Lit4School, möchten Bücher vorstellen, die mehrsprachig sind oder Mehrsprachigkeit einbeziehen und sichtbar machen. Diese Bücher können in einer Leseecke zur freien Verfügung stehen, vorgelesen werden – auch unter Einbezug von Eltern – und gemeinsam besprochen werden. 

Hier eine Auswahl unserer Bücher, die sich mit Mehrsprachigkeit beschäftigen:

Mehrsprachige Bilderbücher:

Romane über Mehrsprachigkeit: 

— Anne Seeger


Or should I say, Lanoitan Drawkcab Yad ?

Suggested activities to try on Backward Day include eating breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast, adding coffee to your milk (something I weirdly do already) and starting a book on the last page: Something I’m sure Lewis Caroll would approve of! His classic novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland combines language and logic into a world of magical realism and ‘literary nonsense’. This book makes me think of all the things that are completely ridiculous but capture my attention as a reader, like the concept of an ‘Unbirthday Party‘… Stories that help me think outside the box. It is exactly why I think Backward Day can be a fun way to escape your routine, as ridiculous as it sounds to do something the other way around, “just because”.

This post actually describes how reading backwards can improve children’s reading skills, using Dr. Suess’ books as an example! Reading the sentences backwards removes the factor of predicting what the next word will be, letting the reader focus solely on the words instead of the content, which is an intriguing idea!

So, whether as an exercise or just for fun, try doing at least one thing backwards today! Maybe I’ll pour my milk into my coffee for once…

Stay safe and happy!

Sarah

“You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret: All the best people are.”

– Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland


“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”
– Edward Snowden

How often do you use Google per day? What do you upload on Instagram, Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, and the like? Do you use any voice assistants? How many jokes and sarcastic comments do you exchange with your friends that could be misunderstood taken out of context? What about pictures of any kind of precarious situations?

I recently started reading some of Margaret Atwood’s works. Although I was interested in dystopian literature and the surveillance aspect before, her books got me thinking even more about privacy as a human right, but even more so as a privilege. The Handmaid’s Tale has gained popularity since the series was launched which also experienced hype. However, it is quite different from the book and I feel the surveillance part isn’t dealt with as nicely as in the book. Atwood started writing the novel during a visit to West Berlin in 1984 through which she experienced the GDR system which definitely shows in the book. And even though mass surveillance media wasn’t a real thing back then, the effect of a lack of privacy on a human being is terrifying as it is equated with a lack or loss of control over one’s life. The Heart Goes Last is another novel worth reading regarding this delicate topic. Who could imagine right now, in our soft cozy living circumstances, giving up privacy in order to gain safety? Giving up privacy because it’s the most convenient thing to do? This is basically what happens in The Heart Goes Last and the change of human behaviour is interesting yet shocking. How would you change if you knew, you were monitored in some way or another all the time? Would you speak about everything as freely as you do now?

Don’t get me wrong, some of the above-mentioned I’m guilty of, too. I am, however, always a little surprised by the vast number of people using the “I have nothing to hide”-argument. I find that hard to believe, to be honest. Or would you give away private information to random people, people you just met, friends, family? Don’t you carefully pick the personal information you’re giving to someone depending on who you’re dealing with? Because I know, I don’t need to have any secrets in order to want privacy. Anyways, it’s not my place to lecture anyone here right now but if you are interested in seven reasons why “I have nothing to hide” might not be a valid point, have a read through the article on the amnesty website. Forbes also published a piece about why it is so incredibly important and how to care about online privacy. What’s probably most important is to reflect on one’s own actions and start rethinking. It’s not necessary to change everything and get super paranoid, just be aware! For I think it’s often not so much that you don’t care but that diving into this abysmal rabbit hole is hugely inconvenient and, let’s be honest, freaking creepy. Nevertheless, I promise, it’s a step worth taking!

Sarah-Sophia


I don’t know how you feel about this but for me, the worst time of the year is not when days are getting shorter but when they’re just starting to get longer again. When the joy of Christmas time is fading again. When New Year resolutions begin to feel like more of a burden than a motivation. When the sky is a kind of mushy gray and temperatures are too high for snow you, however, still need to wear fat winter clothing limiting your ability to move. Work seems harder, it takes effort to concentrate, and gazing out of the window is tangibly dissatisfying.

Now, I must admit I have a hard time convincing myself that reading a book after a more or less frustrating day will lighten my mood. I’d rather lie around all day and watch some edifying but trashy movie or series for the 100th time and wallow in disgruntlement. Disgruntle…a great word, almost onomatopoetic, perfectly fitting the situation. Nevertheless, sinking into discontent is not an option, hence some ideas, some advice for fighting the winter blues.

  1. Getting up early
    The sun might not do it, but I do! Being independent from daylight gives me a feeling of power. Also, I noticed that I get the more unpleasant tasks of the day done more properly and have some spare time for procrastinating with a cup of tea or coffee in-between working sessions.
  2. Sports aka any kind of exercise
    Going hand in hand with my early bird action, I also started going jogging for half an hour every morning. It gets the circulation rolling and afterwards I get to enjoy the graet feeling that I accomplished something already. Took a while getting used to forcing myself out of bed, totally worth it though!
  3. Books I found pleasing
    Since we’re at Lit4School here, some literary recommendations mustn’t be missing.
    I adore famous Paddington bear’s numerous little adventures. Admitting it being more of a children’s book, it nevertheless makes me smile involuntarily.
    Bob: No Ordninary Cat also made me quite happy. James Bowen’s adorable story of how a stray cat gave him the strength to turn his life upside down and inspired him to write this book is amazing.
    Holes was a fascinating novel as well. Not only did Louis Sacher create, what I think is a brilliant omniscent narrator. But he also invented unique characters making up a perfectly round and heartwarming story.
    I’m quite aware of the subjectiveness of this little list and often I am also guilty of being a fair-weather-reader, at least in Winter. When I asked around what books and other media made people happy, many different ideas came up. All time classics Harry Potter, the Percy Jackson series, and The Hunger Games were on the list for nostalgic reasons which I think makes a valid point. And I was told, I shouldn’t leave out all the Disney movies, always useful for a delightful movie night.
  4. Fairylights
    Just because everything is better with fairylights, they chase away the greyness from outside.

What are your favourite books or movies for brightening your day?

I hope you can take something with you from this post if only the knowledge that you are not alone. Have a great day and a big smile!

Sarah-Sophia


January 25th each year is a time to celebrate all things Scottish – it’s the birthday of one of Scotland’s national poets Robert Burns, or short: Burns Night. Yes, you certainly should try to wrap your tongue around one of Burns’ poems – the Address to a Haggis would be a good one so start with. For a start, it beautifully demonstrates the richness of Burns’ language. It also reminds us that there is a wonderful tradition you can join in, the so-called Burns supper: Scottish food and drink (whisky, that is, if you are of legal drinking age) to be enjoyed with friends and family, albeit following certain steps. So be sure to hold your own Burns supper with this simple guide – even if this year your crowd may be connected online instead of gathering at the same table.

If you are looking teaching resources concerning Robert Burns, the article “How to teach… Robert Burns” published on January 20, 2017, in The Guardian might be useful. Stay safe everyone, and celebrate the arts!

Rico


Wenn Sie an deutschsprachige Lyrikerinnen denken, wer fällt Ihnen ein? Wie viele Autorinnen konnten Sie nennen? Und: ist von Droste-Hülshoff eine von Ihnen? 

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff wurde 1797 auf dem Wasserschloss Hülshoff nahe Münster als zweites von vier Kindern in eine angesehene, westfälische Adelsfamilie geboren. Über Generationen war diese maßgeblich an der politisch-geistlichen Führung des Landes beteiligt gewesen. Zum Ende des 18. Jahrhundert bröckelte die Macht der Fürstentümer in Folge der französischen Revolution jedoch auch in Deutschland. Zu von Droste-Hülshoffs Lebzeiten war die Autorin deutlich weniger bekannt als sie es heute ist, obwohl ihre literarische und musikalische Begabung früh erkannt und gefördert wurde. Ihre erste halb-anonyme Veröffentlichung des Gedichtbandes 1838 war ein Misserfolg mit nur 74 verkauften Exemplaren- den Zeitgenos*innen erschien die schreibende adelige Frau als unschicklich. Doch von Droste-Hülshoff schrieb weiter. Ihr literarisches Werk gewann erst im „Kulturkampf“ der 1870er Jahre (20 Jahre nach ihrem Tod) an Bedeutung, in welchem sie – mit den Attributen „katholische“ und „westfälisch“ versehenen – zur Gallionsfigur stilisiert wurde. So erklärte man sie zur „größten deutschen Dichterin“, was ihr wissenschaftliches Interesse und einen prominenten Platz in der Literaturgeschichte, aber auch Fehldeutungen ihres Werkes einbrachte.

Die vielfältige Literatur von Droste-Hülshoffs verbindet Romantik, Realismus und Biedermeier. Ihre eigene Ambivalenz ihrer weiblich-ständischen und ihrer dichterischen Rolle gegenüber prägt fast all ihre Arbeiten und trägt sehr zu ihrer Wirkung bei. Heute ist Annette von Droste-Hülshoff als eine der wenigen Frauen fest im Literaturkanon etabliert. Anna Bers schreibt hierzu im Nachwort ihrer Anthologie Frauen I Lyrik: „Kanones, die meist nach verborgenen, aber machtvollen Normen gebildet werden, kann man am besten durch empirische Untersuchungen beschreiben […] Ein wertvolles und umfangreiches Datenprojekt hat Hans Braam verfolgt: Bei einer Auswertung von über 75.000 Texten findet sich an 63. Stelle der am häufigsten anthologisierten Texte Annette von Droste-Hülshoffs „Knabe im Moor“– als erstes Gedicht einer Autorin. Davor finden sich 23 Gedichte von Goethe.“

Lit4School stellt das Gedicht „Am Turme“ von Droste-Hülshoff vor. Dieses ist im Winter 1841/1842 auf der Meersburg am Bodensee entstanden und reflektiert in vier Strophen die gesellschaftliche Stellung der Frau, beschäftigt sich mit dem Gedankenexperiment „ein Jäger auf freier Flur zu sein“ und kann daher als emanzipatorischer Text gelten. Als Projekt, das durch seine Auswahl von Texten für Schulen ebenfalls zur Kanonisierung beiträgt, versuchen wir scheibenden Frauen* eine Plattform zu geben, damit sie gleichberechtigt gelesen werden. Das zeigt sich mitunter am angegebenen Kontext „Weibliche Stimme“, unter welchem Sie Texte von Frauen finden. 

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff hat erreicht, was auch heute noch längst nicht die Normalität ist – als schreibende Frau im literarischen Kanon etabliert zu sein. Von Droste-Hülshoffs Biografie zeugt von einem schriftstellerischen Selbstbewusstsein, das sie trotz hegemonialer Macht auf dem Feld der Literatur nicht davon abhielt zu schreiben. Uns bleibt, unsere Kanones zu hinterfragen und sie um die vielfältigen, interessanten Texte zu erweitern, die bereits von Frauen* geschrieben wurden und werden.

— Anne Seeger

Buchempfehlung: Anna Bers: Frauen | Lyrik. Reclam 2020.


Thirty white horses on a red hill, first they champ, then they stamp, then they stand still.

‘Teeth! teeth! my preciousss; but we has only six!’

Can you guess who answered that riddle? The fact that a character like Gollum can be recognized by two words alone speaks volumes on the talent behind Tolkien’s writing. His magical storytelling has shaped the fantasy genre of today, with readers all around the world falling in love with his novels. In honour of Tolkien’s birthday, I’d like to revisit some of my favourites!

The Hobbit transports you to the magical world of Middle-earth, filled with magical creatures, some more pleasant than others… and a rather unadventurous hobbit. Bilbo Baggins never wanted an adventure, he was very content staying at home. But when a company of dwarves drags him on a journey of battling goblins and trolls he discovers a side of him he’s never seen before.

Written in verse, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is a collection of illustrated stories ranging from poems about magical elves to hungry trolls. The stories are a joy to read and are ideal for a short coffee-break.

Bonus The Hobbit riddles at the bottom at the page!

Sarah

A box without hinges, key, or lid. Yet golden treasure inside is hid.

What has roots as nobody sees, Is taller than trees, Up, up it goes, And yet never grows?


I’m sure most of us are experiencing yet another stressful Christmas time, for the older you are the more you have to think about, organise, and remember. And what’s more, you don’t even get to keep the mysterious magic of Christmas with believing in Santa Claus, the Christkind, or another Christmas entity. No, at some point it’s just *poof* and it’s gone. The holiday itself doesn’t change so much, most of you and your families have their traditions I assume. Maybe you like to go to church and savor the festive service, maybe you have lovely afternoon tea or coffee time with your loved ones. In my family, we like to dress up, we even sing under the tree, and Christmas Eve in general usually has the same procedure every year which I indeed take pleasure in. Most problematic and unnerving is probably the gift-giving. I’m in my mid-twenties and there still is a hidden expectation that I awaken my creativity and actually make something by hand. And let’s be honest: you’re studying or working, do you really set your top priorities on gift-making?

Now, I don’t want to rant, I really do love Christmas time! I particularly adore all the fairy lights and candles, the colours and comfy blankets, all the warm homes radiating their cozy vibes. I admit, it certainly is kind of stressful but that’s a reason to take a step back, have a hot beverage and take an hour just to take care of yourself. So long story short, here are some warm literature and media suggestions for these special decelerating hours or of course for bringing some Christmas vibes into your classroom:

A Christmas Carol: An all-time classic and one of my favourites! I think it captures the spirit of Christmas brilliantly and conveys positive values that we should pay more attention to. It’s also not that long and it’s ideal for reading it to someone.

The Twelve Days of Christmas (Correspondence): This collection of letters tells the story of the 12 days of Christmas from the recipient’s point of view. What starts out as a grand romantic gesture quickly becomes increasingly strange. Receiving two doves is lovely, but can the same be said for eight maids milking cows in your front yard? This book could be the perfect lighthearted story to read for those who love this classic Christmas carol!

The Real Mother Goose Book of Christmas Carols: You want to include some music and singing in your lessons? This is a perfect medium to implement with a great variety of Christmas carols.

Miracle on 34th Street: This is a magical movie about believing in Christmas and Santa Claus. Despite being quite old, I think it is a great movie for the whole family.

Dash & Lily: Maybe some of you know the Netflix series from last year which was lovely. The books about the couple, the misanthropic Dash and the enthusiastic always happy Lily, are in my opinion definitely worth reading. It’s easy to read and still provides a wide vocabulary range. I liked how the contradicting views of the two are described and combined.

I could and also want to go on and on and on with my list but I want to keep this at a length that isn’t so overwhelming. In the end, we read or watch whatever makes us feel good, and statistically the consumption of wholesome movies and literature goes through the ceiling during Christmas time. If you need some more inspiration for classroom media, have a look at our collection and feel free to recommend your own Christmas favourites!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sarah-Sophia


November 26th: Black Friday

English · 26 November 2021

Every year, I notice how many newsletters I’m subscribed to when Black Friday promotion codes start rolling into my inbox. Companies promote their “once in a lifetime deals” that seem to happen, well… definitely more than once. Black Friday marks the start of the Christmas shopping season and is used by many to get a head start on gift shopping, while also saving some money. And although it’s wonderful to get a great deal on an item you were going to buy anyway, it’s incredibly easy to get lost in a shopping frenzy. So, if you want to read up on consumerism and its effect on us and our environment, take a look at these titles!

Black Friday by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah: This collection of twelve dystopian short stories exposes institutionalised racism, social injustice and the devastating effects of consumerism on contemporary and near-future society. And ironically, it’s named after the very day known for promoting excessive consumerist behavior.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk: This novel is both a psychological thriller and an essential critique of contemporary capitalist society on consumerism, perfection, masculinity and rebellion. Fight Club’s narrator lives a regular life, working for an insurance company and collecting Ikea furniture in his free time. When one day his apartment mysteriously blows up, he moves in with a man named Tyler Durden, a charismatic stranger he just recently met. Together they start an underground bare-knuckle fighting club which quickly develops into an anti-capitalist terrorist organisation that attacks the global financial system. The book has since been adapted into a wildly successful film that is definitely worth a watch.

The True Cost by Andrew Morgan: This documentary explores the world of fast fashion, consumerism and the many questions it raises. How much do clothing pieces actually cost to make and what is behind that number? What is the psychology behind overconsumption along with the ethical and environmental implications that follow?

On this note, happy (and hopefully stress-free) shopping! Have you discovered any thought-provoking texts or films recently? We’d love for you to share them with us!

Sarah