International Children’s Books Edition: Germany’s ‘Language Day-Care’ Debate

In News by Porter Anderson

Many in Germany’s book industry are protesting a planned removal from the federal budget of a reading-focused day-care program.

Image – Getty iStockphoto: Monkey Business Images

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘This Is Where the Cornerstone is Laid’
An interesting controversy has arisen in Germany, with the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, today (August 26) issuing a special objection to a lined in the 2023 federal draft budget indicating that a “language day-care” program is to be discontinued next year.

The Börsenverein is aligning itself with a “Save Language Day-Care Centers” initiative, which has opened a campaign and petition-signing drive to protest the proposed budget cut of these centers’ mission to nurture and develop reading skills in youngsters.

Basing its objection in its “Reading Promotion” interest group, the Börsenverein today has fielded its general manager, Peter Krauss vom Cleff, to lead its response.

“Day-care centers are key players in promoting language and reading,” Vom Cleff says. “This is where the cornerstone for fair educational conditions for children is laid.

Peter Kraus vom Cleff

“It would be disastrous if the federal government cut corners at this point in particular. Because of the major deficits in language and reading skills in this country, which have become even more acute as a result of the pandemic, our country needs not less but more funding and support from politicians in order to improve reading promotion in the long term.”

“The language day-care centers teach the basics of reading comprehension, which has a significant impact on children’s future prospects.”

The spokesperson for the organization’s interest group, Susanne Lux, says, “Especially in a diverse society like Germany’s, language training is an important factor for equal opportunities as well as social and personal development. In many parents’ homes, children are no longer read to aloud. This means that day-care centers are more in demand to teach language and reading skills. And what’s missed in early childhood when it comes to reading promotion is increasingly difficult to compensate for later on.

“That’s why the federal government’s program is so crucial and must not fall victim to austerity measures.”

The Petition to Preserve the Language Day-Care Program

The petition, at Deutscher Bundestag and endorsed by the Börsenverein leadership, was opened by Wenke Stadach, who is the manager of the language day-care center program. The petition carries this statement:

“The federal program ‘Language Day-Care Centers: Because Language Is the Key to the World” is a complete success. The program has created structures and competencies in many day-care centers that make a significant contribution to supporting children in their language acquisition and enabling practical inclusion work.

“In concrete terms, this means that we create an offer for children and families who do not have it so easy that not only contributes to equal opportunities, but also helps those who particularly need this help. We create a significantly better quality in the education, upbringing and care of the children in the language day-care centers through language education that’s integrated into everyday life, offers of inclusive education, and intensive cooperation with families.

“This work cannot be maintained without the additional specialists from the language day-care centers, we are already at the limit in many day-care centers.

The ‘Save Language Day-Care Centers’ campaign logo

“The language specialists in the language day-care centers are multipliers and help all educators to better support children in the facilities with language acquisition. Without these specialists and the support and qualification through the additional specialist advice, the quality of the work with the children will also be of poorer quality. The loss of additional specialist advisors also leads to a loss of quality.

“As educators in the facilities, we will do everything we can to ensure that this does not happen, but we too have personal pain limits. In addition to the children from various crisis areas, many day-care centers now also look after children from the Ukraine. We need an expansion of the language daycare centers.

“In view of the lack of staff in our day-care centers, cutting more than 7,000 half-time jobs and dismissing around 500 specialist consultations weakens the entire educational work for children in Germany. Many of these colleagues leave the day-care center and are lost to us as valuable people with their skills.

“In many regions, language day-care centers have been set up in precisely those places where families are having a harder time, also because of lower incomes or because of their individual circumstances. Language day-care centers help children and families with a migration background. In language day-care centers, bridges are built between facilities and families and children, on the basis of which practical integration and inclusion work is carried out. No day-care center will be able to do this work in the same way without the additional specialists from the language day-care center program.

“It is incomprehensible that the language day-care centers of all things should now be eliminated in the future, although the federal government promised something else in its coalition agreement. Here you save on the backs of the children and increase the burden on the educators even further.”

The signing period for this petition runs to September 20. At the time this report is being published, the petition, which opened on August 23, has attracted 10,657 signatures, according to the campaign, the site of which is here. The ‘Save Language Day-Care Centers’ campaign site is here.

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About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.