Category Archives: Personal

Telling Our Story: Stolpersteine- Stumbling Stones

The internationally recognized date for Holocaust Remembrance Day corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. In Hebrew, Holocaust Remembrance Day is called Yom Hashoah. In 2017 it falls on April 24th, my father’s birthday. He would have turned 78 years old.

Yom Hashoa is about remembering the victims of the Holocaust. It is about telling the story, so we will never forget.

Germany has started telling a story with “Stolpersteine” (Stumbling Stones) since 1992.  The story continues to be told, as more and more Stolpersteine are being embedded in sidewalks. As one walks along  German cities, one can “feel” these Stolpersteine and is reminded that a Jewish individual and their family lived at that spot and fell victim to the Nazis. It is a different type of story than a memorial, a monument, a plaque or a book. You don’t hear or watch the story, you see and feel the story of how lives were taken, families broken apart and history changed forever.

Stolpersteine are explained in Wikipedia as:

A stolperstein from German, literally “stumbling stone”, metaphorically a “stumbling block” or a stone to “stumble upon”, plural stolpersteine) is a cobblestone-size concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution. The stolperstein art project was initiated by the German artist Gunter Demnig in 1992, and is still ongoing. It aims at commemorating individual persons at exactly the last place of residency—or, sometimes, work—which was freely chosen by the person before he or she fell victim to Nazi terror

Let me tell you my family’s story, so we will not forget…

My grandfather, Siegfried Rosenthal, never spoke to me about his experiences the night of November 9th, 1938, Kristallnacht. The night that the SS came to his door and arrested him in front of his aging father, seven year old son and pregnant wife for simply being a Jew and taken to the Concentration camp Oranienburg. He did write his thoughts down at one point. I am glad he did, otherwise his story, his voice would have been lost to me, my daughters and grandchildren. Little did I know that there was much more to the story…

That brings up the question of each of our own responsibility of telling our stories, so they will not be forgotten. My grandfather wrote his story on a typewriter. That piece of paper was passed down to my father and then to me. How long, how many generations will it take before that paper gets lost, destroyed or vanishes forever?

When my own children were in Middle School, I offered to give a presentation about my family’s story to their Social Studies class.   Traditionally (here in the US) it is the time that students get an introduction to the Holocaust. Back in 2002, I created a PowerPoint slidedeck to aid me in the presentation, a tool I had available at that time. I was continued to be asked to share this presentation many times in person in other classes and schools over the years that followed. In 2009, I shared the slidedeck on Slideshare.net.

In 2010, as I continued to think about the importance of storytelling, media literacy and teaching students with “their” media in order to reach theme and make connections.  I felt, it was time to once again re-tell my grandfather and our family’s story. Trying to make the words jump off that paper, that my grandfather wrote so many years ago with a typewriter. I am sad, that the technology was not as readily available before 1993, when he passed away. I could have filmed and recorded him easily to capture him, his personality, his voice…

This is the story, we knew about until a few months ago in November 2016, I received an email from David Jany inquiring if I was a descendant of Max and Siegfried Rosenthal?  We started an email exchange and he let me know that he was a historian for the German Firefighter Association and that he had been researching my great-grandfathers story (Max had been a prestigious member of that association for over 40 years and one of the “best known citizen” of the city of Wattenscheid). He found my slidedeck from almost 10 years ago and was able to get in touch with me. In one of our conversations, which quickly moved on from email to phone calls and Facebook video calls, he shared that his area of interest was to find out more about the volunteer firefighters and their relationship with their Jewish comrades once the Nazis swept the country. This was how my great-grandfather became the focus of his research.  (I remember hearing from an older cousin of my father’s who was present at my great-grandfather’s funeral, that no one from his firefighter or WWI comrades attended the funeral out of fear for repercussions for themselves from the Nazis.)

David Jany’s research filled in many black holes (or misinformation that we had) about my great-grandfather’s history. There still seems to be mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, beyond that we had assumed he had died of a broken heart, after his realization that his son, Siegfried, was taken to a concentration camp during the Kristallnacht and he blamed himself and his refusal to leave Germany in 1936.

We found out that:

  • his official death certificate said he died on December 21, 1938 (although his gravestone says December 26, 1928)
  • he might have died from the consequences of having been beaten (not from old age or consequences of an STD as stated on a death certificate)
  • his house was “sold” on December 27, 1938 -immediately a few days after his death. (Was this orchestrated? Was my grandfather still in the concentration camp Oranienburg, when the sale of the family home was taking place? What happened to my pregnant grandmother once the house was sold from underneath her? Where did she stay until they were able to escape in June 1939 towards South America?)
  • the family home still exists today. Hüller Strasse 10 in Wattensheid (City of Bochum today)
  • my great-grandfather’s gravestone was destroyed  at the Jewish Cemetery of Wattenscheid during the Nazi reign…
  • …and a new one (with his wife’s name included) was placed at the “Denkmal der Jüdischen Gemeinde Dortmund” .

    photo credit: David Jany

David Jany has started the paperwork to sponsor a Stolperstein in my great- grandfather’s name. The brick with the brass plate bearing his name should be embedded into the sidewalk in front of their home next year (2018). (Maybe I can take my granddaughter to the ceremony…?)

Stolpersteine helping to tell stories and helping us not to forget.

Knowing How To Communicate With Whom?

Recently, I came across a few articles about change and the speed of change and how we are reacting to these changes.

I had a few conversations with my mother as well about these changes and her ability and desire to continue to “keep up”. We had a really interesting conversation this morning, specifically about how people communicate.

A little bit of background knowledge. My mother was born during the beginning of World War II in Germany. She has now lived for almost 40 years in Argentina. Both of her children live with their families in other countries. Communicating beyond face to face conversations  is not a nice add-on, something “nice to do” for our family, but a necessity.  What struck me though in our Facetime conversation was the extend of different platforms she is fluently navigating and just like code switching when speaking one of her three languages, she keeps track of and changing platforms, depending on the person she is trying to communicate with. She knows how to participate in a group chat on Whatsapp to organize a Kaffeeklatsch with her girl friends (all around 75 years old/young) in Buenos Aires or to discuss the agenda of the home owner’s association in her building. She knows that in order to talk to her granddaughters she would have to wait weeks for a response (if at all), if she were to send an email instead of sending an iMessage or a PM on Facebook.

I asked her to think a little more about her communication and share her perspective here on the blog (yet another communication platform she is venturing out on.

Below, you will find her contribution (in German) and my loose translation (added a few details from our conversation) for the English speaking readers of this blog. Again, look at her testimonial through the lens of  the extraordinary CHANGES in communication she has gone through in her life time!

Have you talked with your parents or grandparents about how their communication skills and platforms have changed with family and friends?

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How do I communicate with my family, friends and acquaintances?
A few days ago, I celebrated my 76th birthday. Almost the entire day was  filled with congratulations messages from all around the world. I live in Buenos Aires.

How lucky am I, that I own an iPad and an iPhone to make this possible. Of course, I still own an old fashioned landline telephone, that is reserved for my “older friends”, who do not have a cell phone or have not gotten used to new forms of communication!

A few years ago, it was also a big change for me to learn how to handle these new technologies. Today I am doing pretty good!

It all started with learning how to write emails to replace snail mail. Snail mail that more often than not did not arrive with the Argentinean postal service or arrived delayed and out of date. Today I still email with a few friends from High School from Germany who own a computer.

Then I needed to get used to Facebook several years ago, since it was the platform that my granddaughters (ages 27, 24 & 22) in the USA used to share posts and photos. Today the platform is already almost outdated and I have moved on to Instagram to stay connected with my granddaughters’ lives.  I have started to not only lurk, but have a few of my own posts and am an active follower to be part of their lives. Of course, we also exchange iMessage and private messages on Facebook as a form to send short, instant messages to each other.

With my great-granddaughter Elena, who is 4 years old, I communicate mostly via Facetime. With my brother who currently lives in Japan with his family, we Skype. I only use Twitter to stay up to date with the news, but I do “like” a few posts every once in a while.

For about a year now, I use Whatsapp, which is very popular in Argentina. Almost all text communications runs via Whatsapp. Through Whatsapp I am in contact with my other granddaughter Sophia, who is 12 years old and just moved from Canada to São Paulo, Brazil.
I am now planning on exploring Snapchat, when I will visit my daughter and granddaughters in December.

On a side note: I am glad for the little globe button that allows me to quickly change languages between typing depending on the person I am communicating with.

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Wie ich mit meiner Familie, Freunden und Bekannten kommuniziere!
Vor ein paar Tagen habe ich meinen 76. Geburtstag gefeiert. Fast der ganze Tag war ausgefüllt mit
Glückwünschen ‘all around the world’ Ich lebe in Buenos Aires.
Was ein Glück, daß ich einen I-pad und ein I-phone besitze. Natürlich besitze ich auch noch ein altmodisches Festnetz-Telefon, daß für ein paar “ältere Freundinnen” reserviert ist, die sich noch nicht an die neue Art zu kommunizieren gewöhnt haben! Auch für mich war es vor ein paar Jahren eine Umstellung, mit der neuen ‘Technology’ umzugehen! Heute geht es schon ganz gut!
Angefangen hat es mit e-Mails schreiben, die die Briefe ersetzten, die in Argentinien nie ankamen oder erst nach langer Zeit und dann nicht mehr aktuell waren! Heute maile ich noch mit einigen Freundinnen aus Deutschland, die schon einen Computer besitzen.
Dann mußte ich mich Facebook befreunden, da meine Enkelinnen in den USA diese ‘platform’ benutzten, um ihre Fotos und Posts publik zu machen. Heute ist dies auch schon wieder out-dated und ich bin auf Instagram umgestiegen. Dort befinden sich sogar schon ein paar eigene Posts und ich bin ‘Follower ‘ und nehme so am Leben der jungen Generation Teil!
Natürlich gehen auch kleine i-Messages hin und her. FaceTime ist bei meiner kleinen Urenkelin Elena beliebt! Geskypt wird mit meinem Bruder, der sich gerade in Japan aufhält, und Familie in Deutschland!
An Twitter hab ich mich bisher nur wegen de neuesten Nachrichten gewöhnt und verteile ab und zu ‘Likes’
Seit einem Jahr benutze ich auch Whatsapp, das in Argentinien sehr beliebt ist. Fast alles läuft über WA! Hier bin ich mit meiner Enkelin Sophia verbunden, die gerade von Canada nach Sao Paulo umgezogen ist!
Randbemerkung: Bin froh, daß es eine kleine Taste (Erdkugel) gibt, wo ich schnell die Sprache in der Tastatur wechseln kann…….je nach dem, mit wem ich gerade am texten bin.

Jetzt habe ich mir vorgenommen Snapchat zu lernen, wenn ich bei meiner Tochter und Enkelinnen im Dezember zu Besuch bin.

My Life as a Reader- 6 Years Later

I participated in a Blogging Challenge in 2010. We were supposed to write a post about our Life As a Reader. The challenge consists in simply making a bullet list about your connections, reflections and thoughts as a reader. It is an exercise of putting pen to paper (finger to keyboard) and not lifting your hands for 5/10/15 minutes or until you emptied your mind completely and can’t think of anything else. This exercise was very valuable, reflective and fun. Since six years have passed and I thought it might be time for an update. The world around us has changed tremendously. How has this change affected my reading habits? I recorded 62 bullets about my life as a reader in 2010, please see part II from #63-100 (six years later) below.  I wonder about the reading habits my grandchildren will have when they are grandparents? I would love to start documentation of their lives as readers. How about you? Will you accept the challenge to share YOUR Life As a Reader?

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Part II from 2016 (#63-100)

63. I feel comfortable reading a paper book, a book on mi iPad or on my iPhone
64. I love re-discovering children’s books with my granddaughter… books that I enjoyed as a child or books I used to read with my own children
65. I buy more books now than before, since I don’t have to worry about the physical space I need to store them.
66.I read many different books at the time, before I used to finish one book before I would start another.
67. I am at a stage where I primarily read non-fiction books.
68. I contributed two chapters to two different books by Heidi Hayes Jacobs (There was a lot of reading involved in the book writing process)
69. I am currently in the process of co-authoring a book (to be published fall of 2017)
70. I read every day on Twitter
71. I read every day in my RSS Reader (Feedly)
72. Although I read a lot to my daughters when they were growing up, only one out of the three is an avid reader as an adult
73. I like to recommend books to others
74. I am fascinated by experimenting around the notion of “reading” y how it is changing through time and influenced by cultural
75. I am interested how our reading habits are changing due to new innovation influenced by technology.
76. I read a lot of text messages daily
77. I reader more and more as part of short annotations (ex. Snapchat videos)
78. I learned to continue a conversation through following and reading #hashtags
79. when I read in one of my languages, it helps me re-live and re-activate inactive words
80. I continue to read new books in the series of Harry Potter and Outlander
81. books can be companions throughout your life when the authors keep publishing new books in the series through different decades
82. one can read the same books throughout different decades and parts of ones life, gaining different perspectives from that one book
83. I continue to not be a library person. I like to own the book and not having to return them
84. many times I find myself needing the paper and digital version of a book. I jump from one version to the other. I read in one version, annotate, then move on to the other version to continue reading
85. many times, I read a paper book and I have the desire to click on the paper to find more information through a link
86. I need glasses to read since 2013
87. sometimes I read interesting articles and I feel the need to sketchnote
88. I continue to be fascinated by my 4 year old granddaughter’s learning-how-to-read development
89. “writing a blog starts with reading” (Quote by Dean Shareski)
90. reading a document, written in collaboration with various authors, requires additional skills than if you were reading something written by a single author
91. I read my Twitter feed in short moments throughout the day
92. reading hyperlinked text gives me the opportunity to read deeper. It requires the ability to filter, select and focus
93. my favorite book to read together with my granddaughter is  “Stellaluna”
94. the last fiction book I have read was ” Leaving Time” by Jodi Picoult
95. I started reading this week the new book of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”
96. I have not been in a library in years
97. I buy all my books online
98. I love to read  🙂
99. I am afraid that most teaching methods in schools to teach our children to learn to love reading have the opposite effect
100. I am fascinated with the idea of how our reading habits  have and will continue to change in the future.

Part I from 2010 (#1-62)

  1. The first book, “Mein Esel Benjamin”, I remember was a book about a little girl in Spain finding a donkey and becoming best friends with it.
  2. My favorite author as a child was Enid Blyton
  3. I owned all the Famous Five, Mallory Towers and the Twins of St. Claire (“Fuenf Freunde”, “Dolly” and “Hanni und Nanni” as they were called in German).
  4. I was thrilled, when on a layover at the London airport, I found a bookstore. I bought the English version of Enid Blyton books (not available in the US) for my daughters.
  5. I spent every last “Deutsche Mark” of my allowance buying books.
  6. I remember hanging out for hours at the one wall book display at a local department store in Heidelberg browsing the books. The concept of coffee shops, armchairs and comfortable seating in books stores did not exist yet.
  7. My favorite genre is Historical Fiction.
  8. I read fluently in German, Spanish and English.
  9. I could read and understand what the story is about in French, Italian and Portuguese.
  10. I am not a “library” kind of person. I like to own my books to re-read them.
  11. I jumped on board with e-readers as soon as the Kindle came out.
  12. I LOVE reading on my iPad.
  13. I dragged my book collection from Europe to South America and then to North America with me.
  14. When I travel home, my suitcases fill up with books until I reach the airline weight limit.
  15. One of the last memories I have with my father is going to the bookstore “Hugendubel” in Frankfurt, Germany to browse for books.
  16. I read “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon during the pregnancy of my third child.
  17. The first Barnes and Noble bookstore I ever went into was in Rockford, Illinois.
  18. I used to read at least 10 (picture) books a day to my children when they were little.
  19. My children always (mostly) received books as presents from me on their birthday.
  20. Going to Barnes & Noble was a favorite outing for me with my three little girls.
  21. I don’t like reading “bad” translations of books.
  22. I prefer reading a book in the original language the author wrote it in.
  23. “Jauche und Levkojen” is the book that makes me feel close to and reminds me of my grandmother and her life in East Prussia.
  24. I am usually disappointed when watching a movie after I read the book.
  25. I was reading “Harry Potter” as I was flying back from my father’s funeral.
  26. I maintain a “Books I Read Around the World” Google Map to keep track of the book’s location/setting.
  27. I created and maintained a book recommendation site for German speaking parents who raised their children abroad: Sprachhexen (German word for Langwitches)
  28. I imported and sold German books in the US via the Sprachhexen site and Ebay.
  29. I used to at least spend 1 1/2 hours EVERY night reading (30 minutes) to each one of my daughters.
  30. I tried to read as much as possible German books to them.
  31. I frequently write about book related issues on my blog.
  32. I am experimenting with different “note taking”/ visualization techniques when reading a book.
  33. I am reflecting on the process of buying, storing and reading books nowadays.
  34. I enjoy being able to “carry” around all my e-books in one place.
  35. I LOVE my book shelf from Ikea.
  36. I do most of my reading online and in digital form.
  37. I do like the smell and feel of a book in my hands, but I KNOW that I will get over it as I am enjoying the advantages of e-books.
  38. I love to read in bed.
  39. I started reading online in 1991. It was a Mommy-to-be support group on the Prodigy Bulletin Board group of “Babies to be born in January 1992.
  40. I started reading blogs in 2005.
  41. I started reading Twitter in 2007.
  42. My first “Geek” book was “The FrontPage Bible”.
  43. “The Diary of Anne Frank” was the book that inspired me, like so many other girls, to start writing a journal at age 11. I also give her credit to prepare me for becoming a blogger decades later.
  44. I keep an inventory of the books that I read, have read (since 2008) and plan on reading on Shelfari.
  45. I only read a manual as a last resort.
  46. I can read (not great) old German type.
  47. I was able to read and understand Spanish long before I stared speaking it.
  48. The first book I read in Spanish was “El pajaro canta hasta morir” (Thornbirds) by Colleen McCullough. The next one was “En el nombre de la Rosa” (In the Name of the Rose) by Umberto Eco
  49. I remember that we read, in my last English course in HighSchool, “The Cather in the Rye” by J.D.Salinger. I learned the English word “phony” with this book.
  50. The one and only book I ever read in French was called “La Maison des Hirondelle”.
  51. I don’t like to read subtitles in movies.
  52. One of my favorite books I read as a teenager was “The Source” (Die Quelle) by James Michener.
  53. A book that went down in family history for my daughters was “Once upon a Potty”.
  54. I loved reading “Bibi Blocksberg” books to my girls.
  55. The only comic books I have enjoyed reading were/are “Asterix & Obelix”.
  56. As teenagers, I used to read two magazines “Bravo” and “Maedchen” until I moved to Argentina.
  57. I have over 500 RSS feed subscriptions in my Reader.
  58. I collect travel guide books of the places I have been to and would like to travel to.
  59. I have read books to my little niece (who lives in Brazil) via Skype.
  60. My favorite authors in the Spanish language are: Mario Benedetti, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Isabel Allende.
  61. Some of my favorite author in the English language are: Noah Gordan and Ursula Hegi.
  62. I took many Hispanic literature classes for my undergraduate degree and LOVED reading authors of different Latin American countries and periods in history.

A Twitter Goodbye

As I am preparing to leave Brazil to return to home base in Florida, many goodbyes are slowly being exchanged. We said goodbye to our students on the last day of the school year today…we have had several goodbye dinners with friends and colleagues…

I don’t do well with goodbyes… too many of them as a Third Culture Kid with a mobile family stretched around the globe.

Yesterday my colleagues from Graded-The American School of São Paulo, have truly showered me with a wonderful goodbye present. They have collaborated and written their goodbyes in 140 characters or less, connected them with #hashtags and shared them with me at the year end party. Special thanks go out to Claire ArcenasSilvana Meneghini and Laurel Janewicz for even sharing and amplifying the snippets live on Twitter.

Compliments are often hard to swallow, but as one friend keeps reminding me, sometimes I just need to accept them and say Thank You!

So, thank you to all my colleagues at Graded. I will miss you as well. The true test of our learning together will be if when we  continue to collaborate and learn across distances, no matter where we are…in Brazil, Japan, USA, Luxemburg, England or India….We have the tools… we have the connections… we are not defeated by distances… 🙂

A special “Tweetout” to our  own Silvia Tolisano @langwitches…you will be missed…

@langwitches is a citizen of the world with a heart as big as this world. Tender and caring, Silvia guides our thinking forward #inspire

Silvia Tolisano @langwitches is inspirational, globally connected, a mentor, blogfolio guru, true collaborator and innovator, a great friend

@langwitches is an amazing teacher coach who always fights for what she believes in. She made me a better teacher! #rolemodel

Silvia Tolisano @langwitches listens carefully, gives great suggestions & last but not least, gracefully guides us thru the thinking process

@langwitches is nothing less than marvelous! Extremely open-minded, creative, always 1000 steps ahead. When we call, she comes @GradedBR

Powerful, revolutionary. A mobile, integrated thinker. @langwitches is high-performance, ground-breaking and configured to order #innovative

Tweeter extraordinaire @langwitches is supportive and resourceful. A true collaborator who is cutting edge in her field #globalleadership

Risk-taker. Passionate. Advocate. GURU. @langwitches actively makes her thinking visible and pushes others to do the same #VisibleThinking

@GradedBR will miss Silvia for everything she is and for everything she makes us be. All the very best @langwitches in your next adventure!

Love,

@gradedBR #MSfarewell

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The Story Behind Langwitches

I get asked all the time about the name of my blog: Langwitches.

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So here is the story…

It’s a cultural thing… Some cultures see “witches” as a normal part of human history and playing an ongoing role in literature throughout different time periods. Other cultures don’t have a place for witches or see them as heathens and evil. I grew up in Germany, where witches don’t seem to have a negative connotation or at least not one I was aware of when growing up. My father’s nickname for me was “Hexe” (German word for witch) and we have had over the years two dogs named “Hexe”. In Germany, there are plenty of witch related knick knacks being offered in the stores or street markets, from porcelain dolls, puppets, erasers, pens, books, films, etc.

Over 10 years ago, I maintained a website (in German) called Sprachhexen.

Sprachhexen started in 1999 as a resource for German families living abroad trying to raise bilingual children. Since then Sprachhexen has grown to address also the needs of foreign language educators who are looking to find support and ideas from other teachers in teaching bilingual children as well as as second language. Through examples, concrete lesson plans, recommendations, and relevant links Sprachhexen wants to fill the need for quality resources which many foreign language teachers lack, due to professional isolation from colleagues.

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I wrote the following as an explanation for my liking for witches. See translation in English below…

Unsere Vorliebe fuer kleine Hexen…

Es ist kein Geheimnis ! Meine Kinder und ich lieben kleine Hexen. Egal, ob sie in Buechern, Filmen oder Spielen vorkommen.
In unserer Familie lebten schon zwei Hunde, die den Namen “Hexe” trugen, mein Vater nannte mich als Kind seine “Hexe” und auch noch heute habe ich eine Vorliebe fuer Marionetten- Hexen und Hexen-Puppen und anderen Hexen-Schnick-Schnack. Kein Wunder, dass dieses Online -Projekt der Unterstuetzung zweisprachig erziehender Eltern auch “Sprachhexen” getauft wurde. Immerhin habe ich ja drei kleine Sprachhexen zu Hause. Aus Spass an der Freude wollen wir nun auf Sprachhexen spezielle “Hexenseiten” vorstellen.

Warum finden wir kleine Hexen ueberhaupt so suess und interessant?
Böse Hexen gibt es in Kinderbüchern kaum mehr. Die letzte wirklich gruselige Hexe, die meinen Kindern Angst einjagte war die Stiefmutter von Schneewittchen.
Die Hexen in der heutigen deutschen Kinderliteratur sind auf pädagogisch wertvoll getrimmt und nicht dazu da den Kindern Angst einzujagen wie in den alten Maerchen.
Die meisten kleinen Hexen sind ganz normale Menschen im Alltagsleben, die zufällig extra Kräfte haben und diese eigentlich zum Guten oder vielleicht gerade mal zum Unsinnmachen nutzen. Die Hexen aus den aktuellen Kinderbüchern gehen genau wie alle anderen Kinder zur Schule, muessen lernen, treiben Sport, haben Freunde und ähnliche Problme wie ihre Nicht-Hexen Leser und Leserinnen.

Die Anzahl der deutschen Bücher, die von kleinen und grossen Hexen handelt, beweist ihre Beliebtheit unter den Kindern ( und auch Erwachsenen) im deutschsprachigen Raum. Der Erfolg der Harry Potter- Bücher und des Filmes zeigt dies derzeit am Besten.
Der Klassiker aller Hexenbücher ist und bleibt für uns “Die kleine Hexe” von Otfried Preussler. Auch hier ist die Hexe dafür da, den Lesern eine Moral beizubringen. Gute Taten sind besser als schlechte.
Natuerlich kann man Bibi Blocksberg nicht vergessen. Die kleine Hexe aus Neustadt , die mit ihrem gruenen Kleidchen und ihrem heissgeliebten Besen “Kartoffelbrei” das Herz kleiner Maedchen von 3-13 Jahre hoeher schlagen laesst.

Fuer uns im Ausland Lebenden ist es manchmal schon ein zweischneidiges Schwert mit unserer Vorliebe fuer kleine Hexen. Nachbarn schauen schon ab und zu komisch, wenn die Kinder als kleine Hexen verkleidet, spielend auf ihrem Besen durch die Strasse fegen (und nicht nur an Halloween) und wir sind andererseits erstaunt, wenn der Schuldistrikt hier in Jacksonville die beruehmten Harry Potter Buecher in der Schulbibliothek verbieten moechte.

 

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Our fondness of little witches

It is not a secret! My children and I love little witches. It does not matter if they appear in books, movies or games. In our family, already two dogs bore  the name “Witch”, my father called me as a child his little witch and still today, I have a fondness of puppet witches and witch dolls and other witch related memorabilia. No wonder that I named my online project to support parents of bilingual children “Sprachhexen” (witches of the languages), since I also have three little bilingual children at home. Out of fun, we are presenting dedicated Witch pages on the website.

Why do we find little witches cute and interesting?

Evil witches barely appear in children’s books these days. The last creepy witch my children were afraid of, was the mean stepmother in Snow White. Witches in today’s German children literature are geared towards pedagogical values and not to scare young children like in old fairy tales. Most modern witches in German literature are normal humans living a normal day-to-day life. They use their extra powers to do good or at its worse to make nonsense. Witches, in modern children books, go to school like normal children, they have to learn, they do sports, they have friends and similar problems like their non-witch readers.

The amount of existing German books who deal from little to big witches show the popularity among children (and also adults) in the German speaking regions. The success of Harry Potter films and books supports this as well.

Among the classics of all witch books, our favorite is “The little Witch by Otfried Preussler. In the book, the witch is there to present the moral of the story.Good deeds are better than bad ones. Of course, one can’t forget Bibi Blocksberg either.  The little witch from Neustadt, who with her green little dress and her beloved broom “Kartoffelbrei” wins over the hearts of all girls between the ages of 3-13 years.

For us, who are living abroad, it sometimes can be a double edged sword with our fondness of little witches. Neighbors give us funny looks, when the children dress up as witches and use our kitchen broom to play on the street (and not necessarily only during the Halloween season). We, on the other hand, are surprised when the local school district bans books like Harry Potter from the school libraries.

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As my children grew, as part of my Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology, I created a website for Using Technology in the World Language classroom (geared towards educators).  The new was an extension of the original Sprachhexen site (geared towards parents).  It was a logical extension to name the new site a direct translation into English “Witches of the Languages”, which then became the play on words of “Langwitches”.  🙂