Teachers' Resource Book
The European Picture Books
This page is designed to give you a few ideas of how the EPBC might be used in primary classrooms. Further activities are suggested in EPBC books. Each page can be printed off, together with the following information about how to use the European picture books. This will become a 'working' resource book, to which you can add your own activities and other European books of your choice.
The stories included in this collection are from the 15 Member States of the European Union, plus Switzerland. All are written in the original languages of each country and are accompanied by 2CDs of the stories in those languages, plus translations and re-tellings which can be found in EPBC books.
The following pages conclude with a short quiz relating to some well known European stories whose countries of origin are often unknown. You might like to do this quiz with your class, indicating each country's position on a map of Europe.
Before using any of the EPBC books, you might find it helpful to set them within a European context by:
The following activity, using the Dutch book, suggests some possible ways of making cultural comparisons. Like all the EPBC books, Kees en Keetje has been chosen because:
The importance of the illustrations in this book cannot be overestimated. Through pictures, it is often possible to indicate things that are difficult to say in words and the universal power of illustrations can help children to appreciate a familiar story in a new way. In addition, pictures offer readers a position of power, so that they can observe a story from different viewpoints and, through interaction with the text, understand how both narrative and language work.
Before 'reading' look at:
TITLE, together with
After the introductory discussion, ask small groups of children to 'read' the visual story; supplying a storyboard to which they can add their own written interpretation. Then read the story in English, from the translation or re-telling provided in EPBC Books, to see how much the text has actually added to the storyline. The children then listen to the CD in the original language, whilst following the visual story, to see if they can understand any of the new language. They then discuss the language differences and look for any similarities. Many of the words in the Swiss book, for example, written in German, sound very much like the English eg 'Pinguin' and 'Krokodil'.
The stories vary in length and presentation but all are accompanied by suggestions for further activities which can be found in EPBC Books. With the shorter books, eg Austria's contribution, you might like to listen to the story, on CD in German, showing each page to the children. With the longer books, eg Spain's contribution, you could listen to the first few pages of the story, just to get the 'feel' of the language.
It is becoming increasingly important to include the European dimension in education and one of the most natural ways of doing this is through children's literature. Children should be encouraged to question European influences on literature - for example, how could being Norwegian have affected the stories of Road Dahl, or how might the Swiss environment have influenced Johanna Spyri when she was writing Heidi? Issues like these can lead children towards a greater cultural awareness. Few children may be aware of the many European stories which are part of our literary heritage. The quiz that follows would be a good way to begin to establish how much your class knows about the origins of some popular European fiction.
Below is a list of some well known European children's book titles, together with their authors and countries of origin. You can EITHER simply give the children the titles and ask them if they know the author and country of origin OR ask them to design a bookshelf with the blank spines of 16 books showing. On each of the spines they will need to write the titles of the books. Their task then is to add the author and country of origin. Alternatively, you might like to design a sheet for the children with the sixteen titles already on the spines of the books. You can then give them the authors and titles to stick on.
Once the task is completed, you might also encourage some children to locate the countries on a map of Europe and discuss which languages are spoken there.
Here are the titles, authors and countries of origin:
· The Ugly Duckling
- Hans Christian Anderson - Denmark
It is surprising how many of these stories we enjoy without thinking about the cultures from which they have come. Many are traditional tales which we have almost adopted as our own, others have been written more recently but are great favourites in school. Over the last twenty years, authors throughout Europe have been producing some very exciting literature, ranging from quite sophisticated narratives to ingenious picture books which, through interaction of picture and text, provide a rich resource for reflection upon cultural experiences.
Unfortunately, many of these are not translated into English which means that our children are missing out on much of the literary wealth available to other young Europeans. The U.K. lags way behind the rest of Europe in terms of books in translation. Here it is only about 1% of publications annually that are translated from the original language into English. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, it is about 35% and in Spain about 44%. This dearth of European children's literature in the U.K. means that we do not have a plethora of books in translation which could facilitate the European dimension in primary classrooms. It is for this reason that the European Picture Book Collection has been created, with funding from the European Commission. We hope you enjoy using it.
In conclusion, here some European awareness activities which you might like to use in your classroom:
A huge vote of thanks goes to all the European colleagues who have worked so hard in helping to put this collection together. However you choose to use it, we hope that the books will add an enjoyable and stimulating European dimension to your classroom. If you would like to make contact with teachers or teacher educators who have already used the books in school, a list of e.mail addresses is available under EPBC Contacts. Further linguistic and literary-based activities can be found in Picture Books sans Frontières, published by Trentham Press (firstname.lastname@example.org ).
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ncrcl April 2003