News from the editorial team

Burn by Sheila Atim

English · 8 October 2020

As you can imagine, theatres around the globe are struggling with the social distancing our safety requires. One particular theatre in London, The Old Vic, is taking brave steps towards a digital service to the world: Time and again this year, they provided recordings and even live sessions of theatre plays which you can enjoy from the safety of your home. In time for World Mental Health Day, a powerful performance of a play by Sheila Atim has been put online, called Burn. The viewer gets a glimpse of a young woman’s monologue with her therapist. While the recording only lasts about 14 minutes, layer upon layer of defence mechanisms is delicately explored. Do approach the play with the caution necessary when dealing with a complex topic as is mental health.

If you get the chance to discuss this incredibly important part of life, which is still surrounded by stigma, with a group of language learners who are experienced (possibly Leistungskurs) and are not afraid of a challenge, we recommend considering Burn for an empathetic approach to mental health.

Rico


‘Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future’ – UNESCO’s motto for World Teacher’s Day 2020

Today we celebrate World Teacher’s Day, which is meant to appreciate and empower educators and their achievements all around the world. Founded in 1994, the day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the status of teachers. Ever since, the 5th of October reminds the world to create a better understanding of the teacher’s role in the development of pupils, students and society. The joint statement from Audrey Azoulay (Director-General of UNESCO), Guy Ryder (Director-General, International Labour Organization), Henrietta H. Fore (Executive Director, UNICEF) David Edwards (General Secretary, Education International) on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day 2020 recognises, appreciates and values the efforts of teaching in times of COVID-19 – showing us that, no matter what, #TeachingNeverStops:

In this crisis, teachers have shown, as they have done so often, great leadership and innovation in ensuring that #LearningNeverStops, that no learner is left behind. Around the world, they have worked individually and collectively to find solutions and create new learning environments for their students to allow education to continue. Their role advising on school reopening plans and supporting students with the return to school is just as important.

Happy World Teacher’s Day, thank you for your impact and keep up the good work!

The editors


Dear users,

Lit4School life is of course a big literature party. But today we also most happily and proudly celebrate our 200th English text!

We focus on quality rather than quantity, and on additional information to make texts more accessible to you. Thus, 200 texts are a great milestone that shows that hard work pays off. We aim to create a toolkit to inspire variety in language education and hope to enrich contemporary classroom discussions with fitting literature of all kinds and periods – from ‘old and dusty’ classics to more recent examples and topics such as #BlackLivesMatter, #FridaysForFuture and #MeToo.

So, 200 English and 61 German texts on Lit4School call for a bottle of bubbly because it means there are 261 different ways to spice up language learning. If you are rather feeling cosy at the moment and in the mood to have a heartwarming, adorable autumn read, have a look at our No. 200: Diary of a Wombat.

The editors


September 30th: Podcast Day

English · 30 September 2020

Happy Podcast Day!

Though our love for books and reading is strong, sometimes listening to a podcast can be just as magical. So in honour of this international holiday, we’ve compiled some of our favourite podcasts for you to explore! True to the concept of our website, we’ll be mentioning English podcasts as well as German ones.

Of course, we can’t go without mentioning the Mathe für Alle podcast, produced at the ZLS at Leipzig University by our collegues Denise Heyder and Franziska Wehlmann! This podcast is dedicated to discussing how to teach math whilst navigating diversity in the classroom. You recieve practical examples of how to take everyone’s thinking patterns into account and discover new mathematical explanations. However, you also learn how to critically evaluate these new approaches based on current research in this field. The illustrations by Susanne Haase add a wonderful touch! You can find Mathe für Alle on Spotify and the ZLS website.

Another wonderful German podcast is Hoaxilla, produced by married couple Alexa and Alexander Waschkau. In this podcast series, the pair discusses conspiracy myths and urban legends, that so often blur reality and fiction. Using a sceptic’s eye, they break down and fit these myths into a sociocultural context and show the importance of looking beyond manipulation to understand society. All of this of course whilst still making you chuckle along the way.

For our English enthusiasts, check out the Anthropocene Reviewed by award-winning author John Green for a humourous commentary on different aspects of human life. He reviews different cultural topics, such as the board game Monopoly, and ‘rates’ them on a five-star scale. Rich in variety and short and sweet in length, you won’t get bored with this one!

For another podcast that talks about anything and everything, listen into Freakanomics Radio. Dating back to 2010, this podcast talks about current politics as well as general topics related to culture and society. Have you ever wondered how to raise a ‘likeable’ kid or about the economics of saving the rainforest? Take a look!

We hope you find something new to enjoy with your afternoon cup of tea or coffee!

Sarah


September 26th: Rabbit Day

English · 26 September 2020

Happy international Rabbit Day! This day is dedicated to the protection and care of all rabbits, domestic and wild animals alike. Our furry friends can be found all across English literature.

Stories about or featuring rabbits include:

  • Winnie the Pooh: In this classic, the supporting character Rabbit is a loyal, if slightly bossy, friend to the protagonist. Though he needs some time to warm up to strangers, he is equally endearing nonetheless.
  • Listen Buddy: This illustrated children’s book follows the story of adorable Buddy whose large ears don’t work very well, leading to one misunderstanding after another.
  • Watership Down: Sibling rabbits Fiver and Hazel struggle to build a community and find a new home after fleeing from their old one that was destroyed by humans. A wonderful read for anyone interested in a more political take on rabbit warrens.
  • The Complete Tales of Peter Rabbit: Little rabbit Peter is more adventurous and mischievous than his siblings… and consequently gets into more trouble!

As you can tell, there is an abundance of rabbits in literature, ranging from adorable and wide-eyed to bossy and adventurous. Have fun exploring!

Sarah


On September 10th, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Federation for Mental Health (WFMP) collaborate to raise awareness of suicide and develop as well as improve suicide prevention plans. For resources, an introductory film on suicide prevention and more information, consider visiting the IASP’s website.

Take a look at our entry on the teenage novel 13 Reasons Why for literature that allows for open discussions in the classroom regarding mental health and suicide.

Click here for German suicide prevention hotlines.

The editors


August 24th: John Green

English · 24 August 2020

We would like to wish a happy birthday to John Green today! The 43 year-old award-winning author is known for his contemporary, realistic teen fiction. His ability to tell love stories full of beauty and pain is remarkable, and we hope there are many more such novels to come. Take a look at our entries on The Fault in Our Stars or Looking for Alaska for an introduction to some of his works.

Also, check out John Green’s podcasts Dear Hank and John and The Anthropocene Reviewed for some humurous advice and insights on the ins and outs of life. A great listen when you’re on the go or just looking for some heartfelt fun!

Have fun exploring!

Sarah


Summer Read 2020

English · 14 July 2020

Dear users,

As we prepare to lay back on that sunbed again, here are some suggestions for you this summer, for whenever you peel your eyes off your local ice cream store.

  • Rico’s picks: The Paper Menagerie is a short story about the struggle of a migrant woman between retaining her ‘old’ identity and simultaneously adopting a new one. Her son Jack re-tells several episodes of their lives, showcasing his mother’s special talent: When she folds animals out of paper, the little creatures come to life – a great tale for readers 14 years old and older. If, however, you are more in the mood for a scary tale, may I recommend Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz? A comprehensive collection of classic horror stories, this might just add the chills you need on a warm night outside but it is not for the faint of heart – campfire-roasted marshmallows anyone?!
  • Sarah’s picks: The novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher follows the story of Hannah Baker and the path that leads her to take her own life. On each tape that she leaves behind for her classmates, she offers a new perspective on the world of bullying and peer pressure in High School. The novel is best suited for young adults around the ages 14-18. For students wanting to delve more into the realm of Fantasy, The Witches by Roald Dahl is a great read for students around the ages 10 to 14. The novel is set in a world where witches hunt down children and make them disappear in mysterious ways. It is up to a young boy and his grandmother to stop them. Although a bit dark, Roald Dahl’s stories are full of imagination and interesting twists to the stories and myths we know and love. Don’t be alarmed if you start looking for children trapped in paintings afterwards
  • Simon’s picks: I do enjoy reading dystopian novels and short stories. VOX leads the reader down a dark path towards the perils of religion and an oppressive patriarchy. A religious shift in the US-American government calling itself the ‘Pure Movement’ results in women being stripped of their voices… Will the protagonist Jean McClellan prevent its rise? Saving Tally is an eco-critical story for elementary and early middle school classes. Tally, the little Turtle, and her friend Ara, a red lobster, are swimming through the Pacific Ocean when they come upon some funnily-shaped, colorful objects floating by. What seems like a dream turns into a nightmare: Tally gets trapped in trash… a heartwarming story on friendship, survival, and environmental pollution, that reminds us to keep trash out of the sea.
  • Sarah-Sophia’s pick: Holes – this award-winning young adult novel follows a teenage boy, who is sent to a juvenile corrections facility after being falsely accused of theft. At Camp Green Lake, the plot explores the background stories of different characters, touching on themes such as racism, homelessness, peer pressure, and illiteracy… a film adaptation is available, too.

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 the time off!

The editors


Dear users,

This year Leipzig University held its annual “Tag der Lehre” online: On June 24, people could once again explore the highlights of digital teaching and Lit4School was finally part of it. You can find our presentation within Leipzig University’s online documentation of the event – simply scroll down to “Rundgang 2” or directly search for Lit4School after clicking the link. We are especially proud that we can finally present the new design we have been working on and which you can experience shortly.

So stay tuned!

The editors


Dear users,

World Refugee Day is dedicated to raising awareness of the millions of refugees worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to persecution, war and conflict. For readers wanting to delve into different points of view, we recommend the novels “Refugee Boy” by Benjamin Zephaniah or “Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence” by Doris Pilkington. For a shorter text, the poem “We Refugees” by Benjamin Zephaniah shares with vivid imagery how each and every one of us can become a refugee.

Let us keep all those affected by persecution and conflict in their home countries in our hearts and minds.

The editors


Adding Films

English · 24 June 2020

Dear users,

After spending more than a year collecting written works for you, we now want to dive into the realm of films with you. Movies and series both have a powerful potential to stimulate your English-learning process. That is why from now on, we will be collecting the most beneficial films we can think of and again ask you for your help: Is there an English-speaking movie which stands out for you? One which kickstarted your English progess? A topic which kept you thinking for days on end? If so, please share your suggestion with us, so that future generations of English learners will have a variety of movies to help them improve.

Have fun exploring!

The editors


Dear users,

Whether through J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, W. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream or the elves in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring Series, fairies create magical moments in literature.

On the occasion of the International Fairy Day share your favorite magical moment in literature and send us your suggestions.

Sarah


Dear users,

Currently and until June 11, 8 pm Berlin time, you can watch a recording of The Old Vic’s performance of A Monster Calls – a story by Patrick Ness about suffering, isolation, self-awareness, family and growing up. The experience of one of London’s finest theatres is just one click away, enjoy!

Rico


Dear users,

Sometimes literature can help us come to grips with painful truths and hard times. Sometimes a story can make us see the perspective of another person and help us do the tiniest of steps in someone else’s shoes. One of the books that made me stop and think of my priveleged life is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee from 1960 – both presenting the trap that is racism and at the same time showcasing the strength of people speaking up to it. If you are still looking for a summer read and so far have missed this classic, maybe now is the time to give it a try. If you prefer a more recent depiction, have a look at The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas from 2017.

For change to happen, we need to understand the need for change first. And if you have a literary story in mind that people should know of, help us spread the word and suggest it.

Stay safe,

Rico


Dear users,

Although current events have put climate change on the back burner, International Environment Day can still help reminding us about the importance of appreciating and saving our planet.

On this occasion share your favorite eco-critical sources, send us your suggestions and take a look at our entry Saving Tally for a heart-warming story about a little turtle that has a run-in with some trash floating in the ocean!

The editors



May 25th: Towel Day

English · 25 May 2020

Dear users,

If you are looking for hints of literature in ‘real life’ outside the boundaries of book covers, you may have come across ‘Towel Day‘ – a wondrous realm and tradition of book lovers: Every May 25, readers all around the globe carry a towl with them in praise of Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1978). It serves as a reminder that reading not only has the power to lift your mood, but also to calm your thoughts. “Don’t panic”, keep calm and read on.

Rico