The number of refugees in Germany continues to grow daily and many of these asylum-seeking individuals will remain in Germany for an extended period of time. In addition to essential resources such as housing and food, education and culture can play a vital role in promoting integration.
Starting at the International Literacy Day on 8 September 2015, the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, the Frankfurt Book Fair and LitCam have introduced a joint initiative for refugees with the slogan “Books say welcome”. It aims to give refugees quick and easy access to educational and reading material. At the core of the programme is the establishment, through LitCam, of Reading and Learning Corners in the immediate vicinity of refugee housing.
The Reading and Learning Corners are supplied with books and educational materials – not just German textbooks, dictionaries and encyclopaedias, but also novels and non-fiction books in relevant foreign languages. Publishers drew up lists of recommendations, and experienced literacy experts – including renowned Professor of Developmental Psychology Wassilios E. Fthenakis – selected the materials.
“Refugees come to Germany with a wide range of qualifications. By providing easy access to educational and reading material, we want to enable them to adjust individually to the new challenges – by learning German, for example – but also to find a moment of distraction and diversion. Together with our team of experts and various refugee projects, we are trying to put together a selection of books that correspond to the refugees’ respective circumstances and needs”, says Karin Plötz, Director of LitCam.
Thanks to the Education Ministry of Hesse and further foundations we could enlarge "Books Say Welcome" to schools with integration classes for refugee children.