Sabine Bonewitz: How Picture Books Help Build Communities

Sabine Bonewitz, Head of the Family and Kindergarden Unit at the German Reading Foundation, explores the importance of picture books as a way of bringing families and communities together.


Full Transcript

My name is Sabine Bonewitz and I work for the Stiftung Lesen which is the Reading Foundation in Germany.

One of our focus programmes is Lesestart - it's a big programme called the Three Milestones of Reading and it is for parents with children of different ages; when they are 1 year-old and 3 years and 6 years-old they get book packages.

With the book bags, we want to empower the people and the families to get a love of reading and to get used to reading aloud - it should be as normal as eating healthy things and brushing teeth! It should be normal to read a book for ten minutes a day for families with children young and old.

We experienced that picture books are very helpful for working with refugee children and refugee families because when they came to our country in 2015 (a lot of refugees came over to Germany) when they arrived, they couldn't speak German of course, and they didn't know anything about our life in Germany, and so picture books were very helpful to show them how to get in touch with the first words.

The key is the networking and the networking between the different partners who work with the refugees: the people who aid them and organise all the things for them because it's very important that they know how to use books and how to do a reading aloud session. So we put them together, and made some lessons and some training and then they can work as well with the book gifts.

Sharing books with children is one of the wonderful things you can do with your children and it doesn't depend on the age of the children. When you get close together in this situation, you get another imagination of your children because you can see your child growing and speaking, and singing, laughing, and maybe crying - everything is in a book and this is a chance every parent should see.

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