The panel took place on October 22 at the 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair and panelists consisted of three individuals from reading promotion organizations who are also members of EU Read.

Guests were Prof. Dr. Simone Ehmig, head of the Institute for Reading and Media Research at Stiftung Lesen in Germany, Marc Lambert from Scotland, chief executive of Scottish Book Trust, Scotland’s national agency for the promotion, and Daan Beeke from the Netherlands, Domain Specialist at Stichting Lezen and also Campaign Manager EU READ. The panel discussion was moderated by Karin Plötz, director of LitCam.
Because of the pandemic there were 20 people as audience allowed, but the panel was also streamed live and will be shown on the LitCam YouTube Chanel after the Book Fair.

The covid-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history. For the world's most vulnerable students, school closures and continued school disruptions threaten their learning and broaden the achievement gap.
But what about reading? Did children and their parents read more in times of lockdown? Or did children prefer to play online games and were not interested in reading? And what about children, who can't read and write properly? Are there differences concerning the consequences of the pandemic in Europe?
These are the questions which were discussed with three extraordinary people from Scotland, the Netherlands and Germany.

The school closures during the corona pandemic had consequences. Each of the panelists described the situation of their Organizations while the lockdown.

Prof. Ehmig refers that especially children from social disadvantaged families, often with migrant background suffers from the lockdown. During the School closures Stiftung Lesen distributed books to a lot of places, so that children get the possibility to read. There were also a lot of Video-Readings.

Marc Lambert declared that there were also learning losses in Scotland. Due to Covid-19, the Scottish Book Trust moved many of their events to online platforms to ensure still delivering programs and reaching audiences. Removing geographical and physical barriers enabled Scottish Book Trust to reach wider and larger audiences in many cases. Examples of this are the annual Bookbug Conference, Book Week Scotland and our New Writers Awards showcase [35,032 views on Twitter and 264 views on YouTube]. Registrations for program events and training exceeded expectations and required Scottish Book Trust to secure additional online platform licences to accommodate higher viewer numbers. BWS flagship events were supported by accessible captioning and BSL signing. All pre-recorded content that was available on demand for a defined period post event had subtitles added to break down barriers to access.
The Touring program went virtual and provide rich content to over 100,000 children at home during lockdown, and then when schools returned, more than 19,000 children have enjoyed live author events beamed live in their classrooms. Scottish Book Trust was able to broaden participation and enhance the experience by providing a range of guest speakers from every continent as well as experts on Space and Polar expeditions at a time when young people could only travel as far as their school. Scottish Book Trust was very busy and had made a successful job to reach a lot of the Children who had no access to books.

Daan Beeke told the audience that the Netherlands is interesting as a “best-case” scenario, with a short lockdown, equitable school funding, and world-leading rates of internet access. Nevertheless, they had the same problems as Scotland and Germany. It was difficult to reach children from the disadvantaged families which would have the most needs.

Karin Plötz stated that the pandemic is putting a focus on already existing problems. In Germany it was the lack of digitization. She refers to a recently conducted study on the importance of reading, but also on the use of digital media for Information about Covid-19.

Prof. Ehmig talked about the findings of her study. People with minor reading abilities couldn’t use the internet efficiently and had therefore no valuable information about Covid-19 and the consequences. These problems are especially in families from weak social background or migrant background. It will be necessary to support these people in reading, so that they had the chance to take part in society.

The additional fundings of the three governments of the Netherlands, Germany and Scotland were also discussed and the panelists spoke about their work with the fundings. An interesting point was that Prisco Piscitelli, UNESCO Chair on Health education and Sustainable Development said: “Reading stories, especially fantasy, is a ‘social vaccination’ against all the restrictions because they help children find a way to exit what Covid-19 put into play. This statement was confirmed by all panelists.
Furthermore, there was consensus by the point that there is also an astonishing annual ‘What kids are reading’-report analysed by the University of Dundee's Professor Keith Topping.
It figured out the reading habits of more than 1.1 million pupils across the UK and Ireland including 46.722 Scottish youngsters. It showed reading skills improved over lockdown periods, with many children picking up longer books of greater difficulty.
The report also contains findings from a National Literacy Trust survey of 4.141 pupils across UK which shows that three out of five children said reading made them feel better during lockdown. It was discussed how this report does fit in the impression we have about the loss of reading ability by many children. All three Countries have children who read more while the pandemic. But there was also the other part, who don’t read anyway and prefers to play online games. There is no conclusion that children who didn’t read before pandemic read more through lockdown times. The result of this panel was that the three countries faces nearly the same problems while the pandemic and presence. There is a gap between different target groups. The forecoming task will be to close this gap and support reading for all.

The panel was well attended mainly by young adults both as sitting and standing audience. The discussion was streamed via the Frankfurt bookfair mainstreaming channel. With commitment of all participants, it was published on YouTube:


On July 29th, 2010, the LitCam project "Reading and Learning Rooms" started in Mfuleni, a township of Cape Town, South Africa. The opening event took place in the Women for Peace Nobantu Centre in Mfuleni.

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Seeing as how a large portion of the South African population does not participate in the Cape Town Book Fair's activities, LitCam and the fair organisers planned to build up and support Reading and Learning Rooms in the townships of Kayelitsha and Mfuleni. The rooms will be equipped with books and learning material, as well as additional educational technology and material. The project received initial support from the Siemens Foundation, private sponsors and our cooperation partner, Avallain.  Thanks to the initial funding from the Siemens Foundation, we hired a teacher, Mr. Mawonga Mcuba, in February 2011. He teaches at the neighbouring school with 40 to 50 kids in each classroom.

Little wonders of science

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Mr. Mcuba appreciates the opportunity to take time for the individual educational needs of the children in the reading rooms. In order to visualize natural processes he uses the Discovery Boxes sponsored by the Siemens Foundation. The Discovery Boxes provide equipment for scientific experiments in the fields of energy, electricity, environmental studies and health. To enhance their learning experience, Mr. Mcuba encourages the children to experiment with the different tools, like light bulbs and batteries, themselves. "Kids learn a lot faster and better when they can touch the items and see for themselves how things work," Mawonga Mcuba says. He uses teaching materials developed by the Primary Science Project, a long-existing local NGO, which we were able to purchase, thanks to a private donation. In the meantime, various workshops took place dealing with hygiene, security and nutrition. 25 children can participate in each workshop and the results are very positive: Some parents reported that their kids, after participating in Mr. Mcuba’s workshops, voluntarily brushed their teeth or explained to them that vegetables are very healthy.

News from the "Reading and Learning Room":

The Reading and Learning Room classes make an impact

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March 2014: “The program and Mr. Mawonga have definitely made a huge difference in the children’s learning," writes our coordinator from South Africa. 99% of all children attending the Reading and Learning Room passed all of their classes at school.  Due to the huge demand we specified the following for the programme: The classes will be open for 25 children from 10 to 14 years. The teacher will select the children who will benefit most from partaking in the programme. Furthermore the teacher will develop a long-term plan and write monthly reports for the students. The photo shows the children immersed in their new books, which they received thanks to a donation in March 2014. 

Letters from South Africa

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April 2013: What is happening in the "Reading and Learning Room"? Why do the children attend the extra classes voluntarily after their normal school schedule? The children from Mfuleni, a township of Cape Town, answer all these questions. David, Graham, Danica, Owam and Yamelka talk about their daily life, their families and of the importance the "Reading and Learning Room" has for them. They enjoy attending Mr. Mawonga Mcuba’s classes. He helps them to improve their reading and writing, supports them with their arithmetic and he always prepares an interesting extra topic, such as natural sciences or health questions. These additional classes help the children to improve their school marks. Thus, the classes provide a small step into a confident future without poverty and illiteracy.

Supporting reading and writing

Mr. Mawonga Mcuba has spent the last four months teaching Natural Science and Social Science three times a week in the Reading and Learning Rooms in the Women for Peace Center in Mfuleni. Now he has written about his own experiences:


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"As a helping educator in the project, teaching pupils Natural Science and Social Science from grade 4 upwards till grade 8 sometimes. I discovered that pupils are very interested in what I am teaching them, because mostly it is practical knowledge, in comparison to their schools, which lack practical resources (out of box equipment). I also teach them how to connect electrical components (battery, wires, bulb) in order to build a simple circuit. Hands-on teaching increases student interest, because they learn more by touching. It is not easy for some of them to forget what they have touched. I used to come to the Centre and leave without teaching them, because they were busy with other activities. Sometimes I decide to call upon grade R to grade 3, and teach them also about how to make simple circuits. Then I also noticed that they learn faster how to connect, and they feel very excited as I clap my hands when the bulb shines. The following day I had to stop fights, because the grade Rs and others claim to be the first to enter the class. Since I am teaching them for fun, then some pupils are telling me that in their schools some of my lessons are being asked. So they answer very easy, because some others were asked to make a simple circuit as the school activity in Natural Science, they were happy the day were breaking these news saying they know how to connect it. I was also proud of what I am teaching find a place in their brains/minds. I cannot leave behind the contribution of German resources because they make the difference. Learners from any background can gain more knowledge at the Reading and Learning Room in Nobantu Centre, if they can follow the three Ls (Listen, Learn and Lead). By so doing and producing these types of brilliant pupils, the RaL-Room at the centre may get more sponsors."

Lively classes and active support in Mfuleni

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In 2013, we had the German intern Lisa helping our project. She not only supported Mr. Mcuba during the lessons, but she also helped with words and activities. The smaller kids are read to regularly and Lisa helps the older ones with the homework. They also really enjoy using the "100 Dollar Laptops" (by OLPC), which are equipped with educational software that Lisa showed them how to use. Using the laptop independently improves students’ computer skills. Our partner, Avallain, sponsored the laptops. Through their daily work, the RaL-Team in Mfuleni figured that the reading skills especially of the older children are poorly developed. Even though they can hardly read, they come to the RaL Room out of curiosity. The team will take this chance to offer more reading skills opportunities. Workshops for own reading skills and skills for reading out to children are planned for parents, generally mothers.


How to motivate childrend - especially boys - to read a book? Give them their favourite topic football and find a good story!

That's what we are looking for with our programme "Lese-Kicker", the award for the best football children book and football youth book.
Every second year we call out to all German children publishing houses to send in their best footbook books for childen and the youth.
A prominent jury with Manuel Neuer, Joachim Król, Nia Künzer and others reads the shortlist books as well as 150 school classes.


One of LitCam’s aims is to encourage confidence and promote greater equality of opportunity for children and young people from educationally and socially disadvantaged families.  Additionally, we support integration for children and young people whose mother tongue is not German.

Current social developments reveal that despite compulsory school attendance, many children and young people fail to reach an adequate standard of education. In Germany, more than 65,000 young people (source: Bildungsbericht 2010 von Bund und Ländern - 2010 National and Federal States’ Education Report) leave school every year without completing a diploma. Approximately one-fifth of all 15-year-olds are unable to read and write properly, which means they will have difficulty in finding a job.

These statistics inspired LitCam in 2007 to launch one of its first projects in Frankfurt. The idea behind the project was to combine football training with academic tutoring. LitCam hoped that this combination would provide the children with an opportunity to improve their social skills in a team setting. In addition the project aspired to arouse interest in education and culture among young people from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.

The “Football meets Culture” project runs for at least one whole school year. 24 children take part in two groups of 12 participants each. The children have  football training twice a week, followed by academic tutoring based on the children's particular needs. The football training is carried out in cooperation with a well-known local football club. While the academic tutoring is geared to the individual needs of the participants, the emphasis is usually on German language facilitation. Football is a reoccurring theme in lessons. For example, arithmetic exercises use football league tables, or the students read stories about football.

Each month, the students attend a cultural event. The cultural events have quite varied themes. Themes vary from a visit to a museum, to a rap poetry workshop, or a rally-run through a library, just to name a few examples. “Football meets Culture” has expanded since its inaugural project commenced 2007 in Frankfurt. Currently, we run 32 projects and thus reach out to over 750 children.

“The objective is long-term improvement in the children's knowledge of German, among other areas, and in the process, to facilitate transition to secondary school”, explains Karin Plötz, LitCam’s director. “And the great success proves us right. We have seen that the children taking part are also able to concentrate much better in their normal lessons and that their achievement in school improves considerably. The children's behaviour with their peers has also changed for the better. They are less aggressive and calmer in dealing with their fellow pupils.”


The DFL Stiftung has been a nationwide partner since 2012. Furthermore we cooperate for with local sponsors, who share our vision of the importance of "Competence for life".


In October 2010, the “Football meets Culture" project received the education award “Lernanstoß  Learning Kick-Off" from the Nuremberg Football Cultural Academy - Akademie für Fußball-Kultur. We also received the distinction “Phineo Wirkt!” in the area of children in poverty in 2012 and in the area Sports and Education in 2015.

Every year in autumn the Frankfurter Buchmesse opens its doors - with more than 70.000 exhibitors from more than 100 countries it is the biggest event for publishing and media. For this year's special edition of the Frankfurter Buchmesse we will split up our programme to various locations: We will host a panel discussion on "Corona and Education", offer digital talks on our topics and celebrate a football culture festival at the weekend.

In 2021 we will be back at the Frankfurter Buchmesse with our Kulturstadion - information below.

FBM-2014-So Jimmy-Hartwig 006 hf 1000With our "Goal for Education" we strive to raise awareness for educational topics and present our projects. Numerous talks, panel discussions and presentations take place on our stage - all are about education, books and sports. At the weekend all eyes are on football: In cooperation with the DFB Kulturstiftung we invite well-known footballers and guests from the cultural scene. Some time slots on our stage are rented to interested publishers or other organisation for their events on the listed topics. Please contact us for further information.



FBM 2014 Bcher 1000In addition to the stage, we provide a Football Media Corner where all interested publishers can exhibit their football themed books. This presentation is the unique opportunity to show all football publications together, offering a better overview to the visitors: from club chronicles to biographies, children and youth books and football calenders to audio media.

We would be very delighted to exhibit your football themed publication as well!

If you are interested, please contact us:

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