November: Native American Heritage Month

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, numerous American institutions use this time of year to shine a light on the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. Literature and media too can raise awareness for the unique challenges that Native Americans have historically faced and are to this day still experiencing. If you haven’t yet, take a look at the following suggestions!

  • Fry Bread: This story about the staple food of many Native American families can be enjoyed by all ages! ‘Fry Bread’ isn’t just food, it combines Native American culture and history. Additional information about Native American culture and historical context is provided on the last pages as well as a recipe for ‘Fry Bread’.
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: A humourous coming-of-age graphic novel about love, friendship, teenage troubles, and intercultural contact. Junior is a 14-year-old Native-American teenager who grows up in the Spokane Indian Reservation in the State of Washington. Being bullied because of his special needs, he decides to visit an all-white public high school off the reservation, where he first struggles, but finally makes new friends and even gains popularity among other students.
  • The First Illegal Immigrants: The cartoon “The First Illegal Immigrants” by Andy Singer, published in 2013, critically investigates the occupation of America, the forced displacement of native Americans, and the exaggerated border controls of the US homeland security. It can serve as a starting point for a classroom discussion or a project week on Native American cultures, US border politics, and migration.
  • Smoke Signals: Based on a short story, this award-winning comedy tells the story of an unusual friendship. This film allows insight into life on reservations and the unique challenges Native American teenagers face.

Do you have further literature or film suggestions that have helped you learn about and appreciate Native American culture? Let us know!


Ending a novel is almost like putting a child to sleep – it can’t be done abruptly.” – Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín is one of the great contemporary Irish writers and explores Irish society and topic clusters, such as loss, living abroad and identity construction. He lives openly gay and dedicates his writings to minorities in different cultures, capturing diverse voices and discourses. As a journalist and essayist, Tóibín also published critical studies on historical and contemporary subjects. His meticulous and journalistic style of writing does not involve storytelling techniques but features deep and detailed investigations of cultural complexities and phenomena. Before writing this blog post, I didn’t know much about his life and writings except for his novel Brooklyn and its movie adaptation, which follows a young woman from Ireland to New York, full of hope to find her American Dream. So, I was surprised by how incredibly diverse his writings are. Apart from the novels, his non-fictional works are definitely worth looking into. Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodóva, for example, provides the reader with a collection of essays exploring various writers’ lives and the obstacles they had to face because of their sexuality. I do hope that my blog post gives an impulse to read some Tóibín in your EFL classrooms to encourage discussions and paradigm shifts. 

Today, Colm Tóibín clebrates his 66th birthday: CHEERS and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Colm!


Culture is the flower of the human being – the fruit of our minds, the product of our traditions, the expression of our yearnings. Its diversity is wondrous, part of the rich tapestry of civilization.” – António Gutierres, UN Secretary General 

The UNESCO World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development raises consciousness for cultural diversity, fosters mutual understanding and respect and stands up against intolerance and hatred. Since 2001, the day celebrates and encourages intercultural and interreligious dialogue, which eventually brings people with different backgrounds and identities together. On Lit4School, we aim to recognise cultural plurality and diversity with topic clusters – such as native perspectivesdiversityintercultural contact and multiculturalism for literature and media in the EFL classroom and DiversitätInterkulturalität and Migration for literature and media in the German classroom.

Kind regards and stay safe,


On January 20, 2021, the world tuned in to watch US-President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony but viewers around the globe were also rewarded with a brilliant display of the power of words: 22-year-old Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in US history, recited her poem The Hill We Climb to a stunned audience everywhere. Both painfully honest and reassuringly optimistic, this 5-minute delivery of her poem sends chills down your spine because it bravely addresses the challenges of our times head-on. It will be hard making a stronger claim this year that poetry is powerful and that bright young people should change the shape of our world – a message your students will need to hear!

NB: While the transcript of the poem is linked to our entry for The Hill We Climb, a print version is scheduled for spring this year.

Keep reading, and keep rocking.


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,


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

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