Reading aloud as intangible cultural heritage: A German initiative to support literacy, reading and libraries – worldwide

WERNER, Klaus U. (2015) Reading aloud as intangible cultural heritage: A German initiative to support literacy, reading and libraries – worldwide. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session 118 - Literacy and Reading.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1177
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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Reading aloud as intangible cultural heritage: A German initiative to support literacy, reading and libraries – worldwide

Is reading aloud in danger? Does it need to be saved from extinction? Have we as librarians done enough to promote reading aloud in libraries and schools, organizing reading competitions and World Reading Day? However, reading aloud is not only about children nor is it only a local, regional, or national cultural technique worth protecting. It is universal. Reading aloud ought to be promoted as common cultural heritage on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) list. Reading aloud relies on and creates, a specific social situation: Think of the physical closeness and emotional bond that develop as a parent reads to a child at bedtime, the special form of attention given to a patient or an elderly person by a reading visitor, and the group spirit and enchantment created by a teacher reading to pupils in class or around the toasty evening campfire. Every type of reading aloud has its own atmospheric charm that people share which reflects the place or the time of day, the acoustics of the room, and the individuality of voice and body language. Works of world literature also have much to tell us about reading aloud, including its erotic quality. Reading aloud is truly a cultural technique relevant in all phases of human existence. Hence, it fulfills all the criteria of the UNESCO list. Reading aloud has to be learned individually and passed on personally. It cannot be preserved or reproduced digitally, as it is traditional, contemporary and living all at the same time. Reading aloud is community-based and it has a vibrant social aspect because it needs both, a reader and a listener. This paper discusses a joint initiative together with the DBV (German Library Association) and Stiftung Lesen (German reading foundation).

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