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Education Worldwide

“Lesestart” in Germany – Three Milestones for Reading

Lesestart, the nationwide literacy program for children funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and carried out by Stiftung Lesen, continues for three-year-old children and their parents. The Federal Secretary of Education Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka herself handed out the second Lesestart pack to toddlers and their parents at the Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin on November 15, 2013. This pack, just as the first one for infants, contains a book suitable for the relevant age-group as well as information for parents, which is also available in Polish, Russian and Turkish. “The program supports children and their parents in the crucial pre-school years of development by encouraging parents to read books to their children. The findings of the recent evaluation of the first stage of the program show that Lesestart is a successful way of improving children’s educational opportunities, and I’m sure that the program will continue to be successful: Children and their parents – especially those who have only few or no books at home – will experience libraries as an enrichment of their everyday lives”, Wanka explains.

Since the end of November 2013, parents with three-year-olds are able to get their personal Lesestart pack from their local library for free. Families that received the first pack at the doctor’s on the occasion of the regular check-up visit for one-year-olds may now redeem their voucher for the next pack. A third pack will be distributed to first graders shortly after school entry in 2016. From 2011 on, a total number of 4.5 million Lesestart packs are distributed. The program’s purpose is to motivate parents to read to their children and thus acquaint them with books and language as early as possible. Lesestart mainly targets children with an educationally disadvantaged family background or children whose parents do not read to them on a regular basis.

“We’re excited about libraries becoming major partners in the second stage of the Lesestart program because they are important places of cultural education. Lesestart offers a great opportunity for libraries to showcase their exciting programs, including various learning opportunities especially for young families that are rather inexperienced in terms of reading“, Dr. Jörg F. Maas, CEO of Stiftung Lesen, points out.

Already more than 4.700 libraries in Germany have registered for Lesestart II. Many of the libraries which participate in Lesestart II support the program with events and activities on the subject of reading and narrating, for example literary toddler groups or reading nights. Moreover, the libraries cooperate with social and communal institutions like kindergartens.

The findings of the recent evaluation of the first stage of the program show that Lesestart is an effective tool in the advancement of early childhood education: Virtually all parents who received Lesestart packs deal with the materials. 62 percent of the parents seize the information given in the Lesestart packs and read to their children more frequently. One fourth of the parents notice a positive change in their attitude towards reading. On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the program is evaluated by an independent group of experts from the Berlin InterVal GmbH, in cooperation with the Institute for German Language and Literature II, Cologne University and AG Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrische Epidemiologie und Evaluation, (Child and Youth Psychiatric Epidemiologyand Evaluation) University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf.

Lesestart receives strong support from its cooperation partners: Five library associations – Deutscher Bibliotheksverband e.V., Borromäusverein, Evangelisches Literaturportal e.V., Sankt Michaelsbund and Fachkonferenz der Bibliotheksfachstellen in Deutschland – and their members are distributing the reading packs. Social, local and regional expert knowledge will be provided by community and welfare organisations, e.g. Deutscher Städtetag, Deutscher Landkreistag, Deutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund as well as charities and other institutes.

Information on the nationwide literacy program are available on www.lesestart.de and on www.facebook.com/Lesestart.

Press contact:
Stiftung Lesen Stephanie Lange, PR-Managerin
Römerwall 40, 55131 Mainz
Tel: +49-6131-2889068
E-Mail: stephanie.lange@stiftunglesen.de

(Image: Oliver Rüther)

Last updated: 2014-01-29