News from the editorial team

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD) aims to spread awareness of the millions of people navigating daily life with disabilities. This year’s theme “Not All Disabilities Are Visible” refers to the many disabilities that aren’t immediately apparent, such as neurological disorders or chronic pain and fatigue.

Representation in literature and media can help shine a light on issues such as the simplification and stereotyping of disabilities. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is told through the eyes of a teenager on the autism spectrum, who embarks on an investigation after finding a dead dog. The novel Things Not Seen features a young girl with a sight impairment that befriends the protagonist and offers insight on her daily life and experiences.

Some YouTubers that create content about stereotypes surrounding disabilities that I’ve enjoyed watching include: Tommy Edison, Molly Burke, Jessica Kellgren-Fozgard.


Weniger literarisch als mathematisch: In der 10. Episode des Podcasts Mathe für Alle: “Mit Fingern rechnen” nähern sich unsere Kolleginnen Denise Heyder und Franziska Wehlmann dem Thema Rechenstrategien und Kompetenzen im Mathematikunterricht der Grundschule. Weisen Sie Ihre Kolleg:innen des Fachs Mathematik also gerne auf dieses Angebot des ZLS hin.

Die neue Weihnachtsfolge des mathematikdidaktischen Podcasts ist bereits in Arbeit und soll das Thema Diversität aufgreifen.

Bleiben Sie weiterhin gesund!

Ihr Lit4School Team

November 30th: Mark Twain

English · 30 November 2020

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, seemed to have found his purpose of birth in writing some of the most famous works of all time. In one way or the other, everyone probably heard of Tom Sawyer’s and Huckleberry Finn‘s (ad)ventures at and on Mississippi River. The crude language was subject of endless discussions back then and still is, it even led to the stories being banned in the US at first. Being the son of slave owners, Twain’s storytelling might often come across as racist, his anti-slavery views, however, are very obvious as well. His accounts on Jim and Huck demand for friendships across artificial boundaries, racist stereotypes and segregation. Twain was influenced by the dreadful realities of the time. As a boy, he spent several weeks each summer at his uncle’s farm where an elderly slave told him stories. Ron Powers, a biographer of Twain wrote: “race was always a factor in his consciousness partly because black people and black voices were the norm for him before he understood there were differences. They were the first voices of his youth and the most powerful, the most metaphorical, the most vivid storytelling voices of his childhood.

Twain also engaged in critical writings on patriotism, religion and motivations for war: The War Prayer is a controversial poem emphasising that wishing for the victory of the own troops always goes hand in hand with wishing for the suffering of the enemies. Twain commented on the question if he would publish the poem anyway: “No, I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead.”

Having talked about those serious topics, I certainly don’t want to withhold a more amusing work of Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court tells the story of Yankee engineer from Connecticut who is hit on the head several times and finds himself at King Arthur’s court when he finally regains consciousness. With his superior knowledge of the future, he claims to be a magician, calls himself Sir Boss and turns the Middle Ages upside down. All in all, his narrations provide historical access and a unique contemporary view on slavery, religion and society in 19th Century America that is worth reading.



Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. – Fight Club

Every year, Black Friday shows us an almost caricature-like image of consumerism. Sale signs floating around everywhere, ranging from ‘buy 1 get 1 free!’ to ‘40% off (almost) everything!’ (the almost part being the crucial detail). People flocking to clothing stores, eager to find the best deal. Naturally, it’s amazing to get something you already wanted at a discount. But if you’re trying to find something you want to buy on sale, are you still saving money? Furthermore, what does the fact that these retailers can sell products at a steep discount while still making a profit tell us? Is the deal just that good, or is the original retail price just ridiculous? What is the true cost of these ultra-affordable items?

The documentary The True Cost 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?

The Buy Nothing Day strategically placed the day of (in the US) or after (in Europe) Black Friday, aims to draw attention to the evergrowing problem of overconsumption. Whether it be a day-long hike or walking around a mall pretending to be zombies, there are various types of activities and protests taking place on Buy Nothing Day.

And while you don’t need to be running around a mall cutting up credit cards in protest, we could all use a day off of shopping to remember that we don’t need to buy everything!

Stay happy and healthy!


“We are not what other people say we are. We are who we know ourselves to be, and we are what we love.” – Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black)

Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 to memorialise the murder of Rita Hester, a transgender woman. This day is meant to honour those who face stigma and discrimination due to their gender identity, drawing attention to the violence transgender people regularly face.

Ich bin Linus is a German novel that allows a glimpse into the journey of Linus, a transgender man. The book addresses various aspects of gender transition in short, essay-like chapters. The novel Boy2Girl tells the humorous story of what happens when you mix school, friendship and gender identity all in one. The novel is perfect for younger teens and people looking for an entertaining fastpaced read.

Stay mindful and kind,


Who doesn’t know The Handmaid’s Tale? Most people probably have the TV series in mind which caused quite the stir when it came out in 2017 because of its incredible imagery and unique and repulsive dystopian, or ustopian how she would call it, concept. A ustopia is a world that combines utopia and dystopia. Atwood defines the utopian elements in The Handmaid’s Tale as the past, the time before everything went pear-shaped, and the future, the time when this totalitarian tyrannical episode would be part of history. Although it only recently conquered the screens, the novel was already written in 1984 and published a year later. She began writing it in Western Berlin and, thus, also got an insight of life in the GDR, Czechoslovakia and Poland and their regimes. 15 years later, the reality seemed to have changed completely and The Handmaid’s Tale far less likely.

“It looked as if, in the race between Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World – control by terror versus control through conditioning and consumption – the latter had won”, she writes 2011 in the Guardian article Margaret Atwood: the road to Ustopia which I find to be a very powerful statement. At present, the topic seems to be more relevant again, the future is a vulnerable little thing full of possibilities and uncertainties.

Margaret Atwood creates some possibilities in her works, addressing different current issues. Oryx and Crake circles around bio-engineering and to a certain extent the downsides of pharma lobbyism and, going hand in hand with that, also the aftermath of a viral pandemic that destroys human civilisation. In The Heart Goes Last, she explores a near future, a thought experiment about social security in exchange for freedom. A couple is offered a nice home and carefree life if they agree to be imprisoned every second month, then they alternate with another couple. Being imprisoned despite not being guilty, doing unethical work like euthanising people…how far is one willing to go for own advantages? How much can principles and morals be bent?

Margaret Atwood wrote 18 novels, ten short fiction collections and 21 poetry collections were published and it doesn’t end there. In any case, she provides a vast load of material to think about and discuss, that even encourages a differentiated discourse. I don’t want to miss this opportunity to mention a brilliant invention Atwood made: The LongPen. It is, especially in times of social distancing, an incredibly useful device that makes signing books possible from anywhere in the world. The act of signing is done with a tablet, laptop ect. at the one end and is received by a robot hand holding a pen at the other end. If our current situation holds on much longer, the LongPen might definitely come in ‘handy’, I’d say!



The diversity of our world’s many religions, languages, cultures and ethnicities is not a pretext for conflict, but is a treasure that enriches us all.” – UNESCO.

Today, we celebrate mindful, respectful, objective and fair attitudes towards beliefs, practices, opinions, origins and identities that differ from our own. To oppose bias, radicule and peer pressure and to encourage diversity and equality around the world the United Nations introduced the International Day for Tolerance in 1996. Indeed, education is the key factor to prevent intolerance, hate, stereotypes or bullying and support a ‘mutual understanding among cultures and peoples’. Therefore, teachers should “[…] help young people [to] develop capacities for independent judgement, critical thinking and ethical reasoning.” – UNESCO.

Lit4School offers a wide range of texts for the German and English classroom that counter intolerance and offer paradigm shifts for young readers: Herkunft by Saša Stanišić provides us with an autobiographical refugee perspective on otherness and exclusion – that makes the readers experiencing what it means to be treated differently when arriving in a foreign country. The Curious Incident of the Boy in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon presents the perspective of Christopher – a boy on the autism spectrum and how he perceives his world from a very different angle. Die Sommer by Ronya Othmann tells a unique story about migration, religious intolerance, violent extremism and civil war. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman use reverse stereotyping to offer a paradigm shift that makes the readers aware of racial stereotyping and oppression.

Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.” ― Kofi Annan

Lets promote awareness for pluralism, diversity and tolerance in school.

Kind regards and stay safe,


Now that in-person interactions have become scarcer, I’ve caught myself drifting away from the people I care about. May it be forgetting to text back a family member or being randomly irritated during a Zoom call, sometimes I need a reminder to be more thoughtful and kind.

I think books can teach us a great deal about how or how not to treat people, no matter the age of the reader. Room on the Broom tells the story of friends helping each other out no matter what. In Fry Bread, you can see a family held together by the glue that is love, good food and quality time. And lastly, The Magic School Bus shows us that there are no stupid questions and that anything can be solved with some patience.

And although we can’t run into a big group hug, we can try and remember to be kind to the people around us. Shoot a friend a text, donate to a cause close to your heart, or take your dog for an extra-long walk today!

Stay healthy and happy!


US Election 2020

English · 7 November 2020

The US election this year had many people glued to the edge of their seat, regardless of nationality. Voter turnout was the highest it’s been in over 100 years, with many voters making use of mail-in ballots and the early voting option.

However, tensions ran high as the former president himself questioned the election process in his speech on election night. He stated “…so we’ll be going to the Supreme Court, we want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 o’clock in the morning and add them to the list, okay?”, thereby demanding valid mail-in, absentee and overseas ballots be thrown out and alleging fraud without evidence. But can one talk about democracy whilst not wanting to count all ballots? The motivation for these allegations could lie in the fact that more democrats tended to vote via mail.

Consequently, former president Donald Trump quickly lost his lead in battleground states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania. This lead to candidate Joe Biden winning the election after passing the threshold of 270 electoral votes. We hope this transitional period runs smoothly and that the division the United States is currently experiencing can be overcome. Did you watch the election coverage? What are your thoughts on the current political climate in the United States?

Stay safe and healthy,


We celebrate Lit4School’s first birthday: One year ago, we launched the new Lit4School website, which was indeed not a Gunpowder plot but an attempt to provide teachers of English and German with authentic literature and media for their classes.

Up to the present day, we feature a great variety of more than 300 texts for all school types and grades. Our selection includes silenced voices, offers intercultural perspectives, promotes democratic and political education and provides transparency by outlining our arguments in favour. Lit4School offers an effective, timesaving and topic-based research on literature and media that meets the requirements of the curricula. As a non-profit database, we do and will not charge any fees.

Thanks, everyone, for making this possible! To help us grow further, share your suggestions for literature and media with us.

Kind regards and stay safe,

The editors

The rest of the school was happily anticipating their Hallowe’en feast; the Great Hall had been decorated with the usual live bats, Rubeus Hagrid’s vast pumpkins had been carved into lanterns large enough for three men to sit in, and there were rumours that Albus Dumbledore had booked a troupe of dancing skeletons for the entertainment.” – J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998)

Originated from a Celtic harvest festival or the Christian tradition of All Saint’s Day, Halloween heralds the approaching cold season and is widely celebrated as a non-religious tradition to frighten away evil spirits and ghosts. Lit4School offers a variety of texts for all school types that can serve as a starting point for your Halloween lesson(s): For bewitched and spooky little stories for our younger learners Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, Nate the Great and The Halloween Hunt by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Marc Simont, How to Scare a Ghost by Jean Reagan and Lee Wildish or Froggy’s Halloween by Jonathan London provide literary stepping stones. Intermediate learners might enjoy R.L. Stine’s collection of short fiction Nightmare Hour, which features a little bit of everything – from mystery and ghost fiction to aliens and witchcraft. Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein about a terrifying creature that haunts his master or the story of the headless horseman in Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow are longer works of fiction from the realm of gothic horror that might be suitable for advanced learners of English.

We do hope, that you like our suggestions and would appreciate it, if you would share your suggestions for a Halloween read with us, so we can feature them in our next year’s post.

Have a spooky Halloween with your pupils!

Kind regards and stay safe,


Welche Herausforderungen und Chancen bietet der Seiteneinstieg ins Lehramt? Wie und warum entstand das Seiteneinsteigerprogramm im Freistaat Sachsen? Inwiefern ist eine kontinuierliche, fachliche und praktische Fort- und Weiterbildungsmaßnahme für alle Lehrkräfte (im Sinne des Lebenslangen Lernens) sinnvoll?

In der aktuellen Folge des Podcasts Mathe für Alle: “Seiteneinsteiger:innen – Eine bunte Lehrerschaft macht Schule” interviewen unsere Kolleginnen Denise Heyder und Franziska Wehlmannden den Geschäftsführer des Zentrums für Lehrerbildung und Schulforschung Alexander Biedermann zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Seiteneinsteigerprogramms (wAL) an der Universität Leipzig. Auch Studierende und Absolvent:innen des Programms kommen zu Wort und zeichnen ein differenzierteres Bild einer oftmals emotional geführten Debatte: In ihrem Studium sehen sie keinesfalls ein Notprogramm, sondern eine strukturell starke Qualifizierungsmaßnahme, die durch ihre praxisnahe Ausrichtung Potentiale für die Schulentwicklung bietet. Unterschiedlichste Vorerfahrungen und berufliche Expertisen bilden für sie ein Abbild der Gesellschaft und tragen zu einem bunteren und vielfältigeren Schulkollegium bei.

Die neue Folge des mathematikdidaktischen Podcasts ist ab Donnerstag, den 29. Oktober online verfügbar.

Bleiben Sie weiterhin gesund,

Ihr Lit4School Team

October 28th: Mark Haddon

English · 28 October 2020

“Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.” – Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

This recognisable quote from Mark Haddon’s mystery novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time shows the mind and thoughts of young Christopher Boone, a boy on the Asperger’s spectrum. On his quest to find out who killed the neighbour’s dog by the name Wellington, Christopher uncovers the truth about his parents’ break-up. The diarylike text offers unique perspectives into the teenage life of a boy with special needs and how he faces his challenges in everyday life. Amazingly, Haddon created a heart-warming story for both, children and adults that brought to us how it is to be different from everyone else.

The award-winning author is also known for his Agent Z series and wrote many works of fiction for children and young adults. But it is for his Curious Incident, the fantastic approach of the adventures of a special boy who solves a murder mystery, that we celebrate him today.

Happy Birthday, Mark!

Sarah-Sophia and Simon

Who doesn’t know Vermeer’s mysteriously beautiful Girl with a Pearl Earring? The painting that creates so many questions: Who is the girl? Why does she look so solemnly? Where might she be, where come from? And what on earth is up with that very prominent accessory of her’s?

Tracy Chevalier is the women who told the painting’s story. She designed answers to many of the questions and gave the face a background, a “how it could have been”. Her novel Girl with a Pearl Earring (1999) is available in 38 languages and has sold over 5 million copies in 15 years. Additionally, a film starring Scarlett Johansson was produced, so all in all a major success.

She also wrote other historical novels inspired by characters, events or circumstances of the past like Burning Bright which follows painter-poet William Blake or Reader, I Married Him featuring short stories inspired by Jane Eyre. With New Boy she gave Othello a completely new setting making the story relatable and appealing to a wider readership. It shows that Shakespeare’s original still has relevance today.

It is delightful that the past still inspires adventurers and narrators in the present. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Tracy!


October 16th: Oscar Wilde

English · 16 October 2020

“For there is one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde

And here we are, still talking about the wild(e) Oscar and his incredible works. In mind, we have an extravagant dandy with a colourful character, an iconic figure of style much like those he describes in his works. 1854 he was born in Dublin to a wealthy family who appreciated the Arts, 166 years later we celebrate his art and his birthday. Thanks to him, we always have our ill cousin Bunbury to visit if we need to escape society for a bit. We also owe the beautifully gruesome tragedy of Dorian’s moral decay to him, a novel that I personally just couldn’t put down. And let’s not forget his splendidly horrific fairytales that create a peculiar kind of melancholic joy. His elegant brilliance with words forged many extraordinary and sometimes slightly controversial quotes which often helped me find a start for cards and letters; If you don’t know how to begin, begin with Wilde – success guaranteed.

“I have nothing to declare, except my genius” – Oscar Wilde

To this genius, I raise my glass: Let’s have a Wilde one – Happy Birthday Oscar Wilde!


“The air was motionless, but when you opened your mouth there was just a faint chill, like a chill from a glass of iced water before you sip, and now again a leaf came drifting – from nowhere, from the sky.– Katherine Mansfield, Miss Brill

Now that the days are getting shorter and colder, it’s time to cuddle up inside with a good short story! In honour of Katherine Mansfield‘s birthday, we’d like to share some of our favourites of hers. The modernist author’s short stories are packed with emotions subtly hidden in interactions. In Miss Brill, we get to know a character filled with loneliness, alienated from the world. And although Miss Brill finds moments of happiness, these too are crushed by a smug comment on her appearance. From one lonely soul stuck in her own world to another, The Garden Party tells a story of inner conflict and class consciousness. Laura, the protagonist, is ripped from her bubble of wealth and comfort when a neighbour dies on the same day her family is planning to host a party.

Mansfield’s short stories make the reader aware of the superficiality of social conventions and confront us with the complex and often darker spheres of human nature. If you are looking for a comprehensive introduction to her short stories – here is an article from the British Library.

Happy reading! Do you have any short stories you absolutely love? Share them with us!

Sarah and Simon

Every cloud has a silver lining.

After COVID-19 upset our plans to present Lit4School at the Leipzig Book Fair in spring, we got the chance to be a part of the digital Frankfurt Book Fair 2020. Being the world’s largest trade fair for books with a tradition of more than 500 years, it connects readers, authors and publishing companies until the present day.

From the 14th to the 18th of October you can visit the digital fair free of charge: Discover a wide range of live conferences, virtual Q&A sessions and exhibition stands – including our presentation.

Don’t miss out!

The editors

Autumn Read 2020

English · 9 October 2020

Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” – J.K. Rowling

As summer draws to a close and winter slowly approaches, here are some of our suggestions for the golden time of the year – or the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness‘ as Keats called it in his romantic poem “To Autumn” (1819/20).

  • Sarah’s picks: Gusts of wind, thunderstorms and crisp autumn air… the perfect time of year to cuddle up inside with a cup of tea, fuzzy socks and a good book! And although we can’t always hide away from the outside world under a cosy blanket, we can try to bring that atmosphere to the classroom with some autumnal stories! For young readers, Room on the Broom offers a fun story full of rhymes about a witch, a dragon and a flying broomstick to get everyone in the Halloween spirit. For a short story about a relationship that has run its course, take a look at Early Autumn by Langston Hughes. Although the conversation seems to stay in the realm of small talk, the awkward dynamic between the two hints at a complicated past and unresolved feelings. The autumnal setting reflects their relationship. We hope these suggestions help you (pumpkin) spice up your autumn reading list!
  • Sarah-Sophia’s picks: As the veil of darkness falls a little earlier every day, it is time for me to unbox some old scary Gothic stories. Mary Shelley provides us with a quite extraordinary one, a favourite of mine in the time leading up to Halloween: Frankenstein (1818). Combine some ingenuity with an omnium gatherum of body parts. Add some stitches and a little electricity and you won’t need a ghost to haunt you as you have a corporeal monster: Frankenstein’s monster. This multi-layered character will wake sympathy and terror likewise and pull you into its tragic life story of becoming a monster in the process. My suggestion: Read it to someone in the dark with a flashlight under your face. Fancy something more romantic and slightly easier on the mind? Here are some powerful lines of hope and transition by Emily Brontë: Fall, leaves, fall (1846) Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away; Lengthen night and shorten day; Every leaf speaks bliss to me; Fluttering from the autumn tree. I shall smile when wreaths of snow; Blossom where the rose should grow; I shall sing when night’s decay; Ushers in a drearier day.
  • Rico’s picks: All kinds of animals may be preparing for a good winter’s sleep … but you certainly don’t, avid reader, no. You are used to sharpening your senses through the looking glass which is literature. May I suggest Vox, Christina Dalcher’s dystopic novel, for that very purpose? Set in a future version of the USA, which has taken yet another turn for the worse, this story forcefully demonstrates how quickly freedom can be lost if we don’t uphold it in our every day lives. If that isn’t enough to keep you up at night, how about a more classic scare treatment in the form of The Cats of Ulthar? Chills up your spine are guaranteed in this 2-page short story by the great H. P. Lovecraft. Once Halloween has passed, however, we would be wrong in not offering some consolation which, of course, also is literature. Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is a nicely illustrated story for the young – and young at heart – about a small, hard-working creature stumbled upon by a curious little girl. So do feel encouraged to not freak out about the way things are at the moment. Where is lit, there certainly is hope!
  • Simon’s picks: Cold foggy mornings and warm burning sunsets: In autumn, summer shows the last flair of rebellion against the approaching winter, and thereby creates a colourful, mysterious and melancholic season. Here comes my first suggestion – a classic gothic tale that some of you might know from its film adaptation with Johnny Depp from the year 1999: Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820). The classic short story of the ‘pumpkin-topped headless horseman‘ does not only play around Halloween, but it also features the somewhat awkward schoolmaster Ichabod Crane as a main character, who strongly believes in the supernatural. After a harvest party, Ichabod rides home on his old horse ‘Gunpowder‘ and becomes the victim of a rather mean prank in the middle of the night. My second suggestion is rather suitable for the elementary classroom and the earlier grades, whose colours reminded me of autumn: Ruth Brown’s Greyfriars Bobby (2013). This beautifully illustrated picture book tells a heartwarming story about a faithful, little dog, who became a local hero for the people of Edinburgh.

Also, if you come across a brilliant new story which you think the world should know about, make sure to suggest it, so we can feature it in our next holiday reading list. Enjoy your autumn holidays, especially long walks in the park, but remember: Winter is coming…

The editors