Last September, we had the chance to open a little children library in Köpenick, in collaboration with Stephanus – a local charitable organisation. While the main purpose of this library is the integration of the new refugee community, we are also hoping for it to become a happy place where all kids from the neighbourhood can meet, laugh and exchange, all surrounded by an entertaining collection of books.
That was our first event with the children and we can’t wait to organise more of these, as they truly filled our team with joy and fluffy happiness.
” The first Lilipad event involving children that I had the opportunity to attend was the kids book party and library opening in Köpenick, Berlin. Sara has been an acquaintance (now friend!) of mine for a few years and I’d become quite the enthusiast for the pub quiz nights Lilipad hosts. For those who haven’t been, highly recommend it!
More recently, I’d helped out with the Lilipad Summerfest, which was also a great success in my opinion – a day filled with fun things ranging from a pop-up tattoo artist to funky DJs to a silent auction! I really adored the concept of Lilipad and how these events made it both exciting and easy for a community of mostly young individuals to give back. As I’d been working as an English teacher for a Kita here in Berlin, when the proposition arose to help with the project in Köpenick I could not decline!
Honestly, even though my job involves working with children every day, I was quite nervous. Letting down a room of bright eyed little people is probably one of the worst things to happen in life, ever. We had planned to separate the afternoon in Arabic, English and German sections, but had no idea what type of turnout to expect. As we stood around with an eye on the time, making last last minute adjustments to the decorations, library setup, snack table, etc., the first family arrived.
And then another, and another.
Of course the teeny tiny muffins were a hit and there were also some sort of googley-eyed monster toys the children could put on their fingers they seemed to get a major kick out of. One of the more outgoing children of the group, Mustafa was bouncing around with about 5 on his hand. Though, this may also have had something to do with the Disney songs playing in the background!
The 5 of us (the educators and the Lilipad team members) made our rounds engaging with the families and trying to make the kiddos feel comfortable. Soon enough most of us had either cat whiskers or butterflies painted on our (laughing) faces. It was a great help to also have Katja there who worked at the facility and was already acquainted with some of the crowd. In total there were about 15 children, ranging from maybe 1 to 10 years in age. It was quite a culturally mixed group (mostly with a refugee background but not only) and the book readings were all received very well. Who couldn’t be interested by the the Hungry Caterpillars excessive and weird diet?! We separated the readings with some action songs and colouring activities. And of course more mini muffins.
But as good as mini muffins are, and the event unquestionably being a success, the kicker was unexpectedly at the end. The purpose of Lilipad is to build these cute little children’s book libraries to promote reading and the ability for ones mind to explore new ideas, feelings and possibilities – for those who may never have the chance to be exposed to this privilege. Yes, it is a privilege. But most definitely should not be. Every child should have the chance to awe in wonder at the rainbow fish’s shiny scales and gift to share them with others around him.
As we were packed up and about ready to go, a final child arrived with his parents. The event was over but seeing his face light up at the actual library and the books it held was wonderful. I truly hope this little library only continues to grow and light up more faces like this one. In all the Lilipad libraries for that matter!
It was both a pleasure and honour to be a part of this event and I have much hope the community continues to get involved and make a difference for those where it matters. I know I will keep attending the pub quiz nights at least. And eating the leftover mini muffins. “
In memory of…
Working with words, language and storytelling is my deepest passion – therefore, i am writing and reading every day, which is high-end luxury for me.
As a writer, i feel strongly connected to the medium book,
thinking a lot about the importance of having the opportunity to read.
The idea of Lilipad, to build libraries where they are truly needed, immediately seemed like a very important concern to share and provide to me – creating a common space where kids can learn to let go,
emerging individual imagination and interests without any pressure.
This summer, i gladly participated in setting up a workshop for a group of kids along with building a library with Lilipad in Köpenick.
It was a real pleasure to see how this bright variety of children reacted on the filled bookshelves same as on us reading and speaking
about the colorful world of thoughts and imagination inbetween those numerous book jackets. Discovering all the given books and presents together,
it became obvious how every child incredibly quickly received the opportunity
to read, starting to evolve an individual interest.
It is necessary to find ways to reflect and express the inner life –
particularly for children, who have to grow up so fast in this overwhelming world we live in.
Thinking about culture and education, a lot of kids feel sometimes lost or left alone.
Books are great company!
They convey knowledge and sensitivity for life, symbolize motivation and an active mind, stimulating the senses.
Within my experiences during the workshop,
i am very certain about uncountable reasons to support Lilipad
the needfulness to help young souls to find their own way in the world of thoughts,
creation and imagination.