Books for Children in Arabic, Dari and Pashtu at German Libraries

Just Read! Photo: Bettina Siegwart © Goethe-Institut
Einfach lesen

Procuring suitable media for refugees is quite a challenge for German public libraries. The Goethe-Institut’s “Einfach Lesen!” (“Just Read!”) campaign helps German libraries reach out to refugee children.

All available copies of the bilingual and translated books have been distributed. The Goethe-Institut cannot provide any more copies. Should you wish to acquire any of these titles, please contact bookshops.

In June 2016 the Goethe-Institut held a workshop on the subject of children’s books in Arabic translation with the help of the German Library Association. Anne Barckow (from Bücherhallen Hamburg, a private foundation that runs public libraries in Hamburg) and Britta Schmedemann (Bremen Public Libraries) talked about basic aspects of the German asylum procedure and about funding for library projects and provided free information material. In the workshops that followed, they worked with participants on the contents of the “Einfach Lesen!” book package.

Thanks to funding from the Japan Art Association, these “Einfach Lesen!” book packages, containing twenty-odd titles for children and teens by German authors, such as Dr. Brumm gibt Gas, Herr der Diebe and Krokodil und Giraffe, were sent out to 300 school and public libraries in spring 2016. All of these books had been translated into Arabic in recent years with funding from the Goethe-Institut’s Translation Programme. Unfortunately, however, only a limited number of book packages were available. You’ll find information on this website about building up your stock of media for refugees, including a list of suitable titles.

Another batch of children’s books was sent out mostly to German libraries  at the end of 2016, containing translations into Dari and Pashto of

  • Oh wie schön ist Panama (“The Trip to Panama”) by Janosch
  • Die Geschichte vom Löwen, der nicht schreiben konnte (“The Lion Who Couldn’t Write”) by Martin Baltscheit
  • Schreimutter (“Angry Mom”) by Jutta Bauer     
Furthermore, six dual-language (German-Arabic) picture books were published in the year 2016 by Verlag Hans Schiler:
  • Der wunderbarste Platz auf der Welt (“The Most Wonderful Place in the World”) by Jens Rassmus
  • Leonhard by Wolf Erlbruch
  • Die ganz besonders nette Straßenbahn (“The Very Nice Tram”) by James Krüss and Lisl Stich
  • Einer mehr (“One More”) by Yvonne Hergane and Christiane Pieper
  • fünfter sein (“being fifth”) by Ernst Jandl and Norman Junge
  • Eine gemütliche Wohnung (“A Cosy Home”) by Paul Maar and Norman Junge
Additional translations (again into the Afghan languages Dari and Pashto) will be coming out in the spring of 2017, so the series will ultimately comprise 14 titles.
These editions make shared reading experiences possible for refugee families, enabling children, who generally learn German faster than their parents, to read, enjoy and discuss stories with their families, which in turn facilitates access to the new culture for everyone involved. These books can be purchased in retail bookshops or directly from the publishers.

Our collection of multimedia materials includes video footage of the workshop, accompanying materials and references to supplementary sources of information that offer suggestions on ways to put across foreign-language children’s books effectively using illustrations, games, pantomime, and searching together for recurrent themes in each story.

 Introduction: Einfach Lesen!
Some background information about the “Einfach Lesen!” (“Just Read!”) campaign

Bringing stories to life
Pantomime, parachutes and processions

A picture’s worth a thousand words
Creative approaches with hearts, minds and hands

Fairy tales work wonders
Simply worded, in many languages, rich in imagery