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“Books say welcome”: book sector launches initiative for refugees

Establishment of Reading and Learning Corners for refugees / Fundraising campaign in bookstores / Special programme for refugees at the Frankfurt Book Fair / Sponsor: Navid Kermani, winner of the 2015 Peace Prize of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association

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 German Publishers & Booksellers Association is supporting the action with a call for donations, while the Frankfurt Book Fair is offering free tickets and events for refugees at the fair.

The initiative has been sponsored by the author and expert in Middle Eastern Studies Navid Kermani, who will receive this year’s Peace Prize of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association. “The number of refugees is growing around the world. And in the immediate vicinity of Europe, war, lawlessness, displacement, mass murders, systematic rape and ethnic cleansing are devastating entire countries – just as Europe experienced in its own history. We shouldn’t shut ourselves off from this – we can’t in any event. The refugees need protection, help and support”, says Navid Kermani.

Reading and Learning Corners for refugees

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. The idea is based on the “Reading and Learning Rooms” run by LitCam in Cape Town’s Mfuleni Township.

“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 local foundations we could enlarge "Books Say Welcome" the schools with integration classes for refugee children.

Supporting the action with a donation

In addition to donating in bookstores, interested parties can also support the action by making a bank transfer to the following donation account:

LitCam gGmbH
Reference for payment: Bücher sagen Willkommen
Commerzbank AG
Account number: 95963701
Bank sort code: 500 800 00
IBAN: DE80 5008 0000 0095 9637 01
BIC: DRESDEFFXXX

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Address

LitCam gemeinnützige GmbH
Braubachstraße 16
60311 Frankfurt am Main
Germany

Tel.: +49 (0) 69 2102-140
Fax: +49 (0) 69 2102-46140
E-Mail: litcam@book-fair.com