Pop Star Celebrates Reading Party with Children

Promoting literacy: The Reading is Fun campaign brought the world of books to Turkish-language radio

Efe already knows the story of the Gruffalo from kindergarten. But listening to the German-Turkish pop singer Muhabbet read the story of the mouse and the gullible monster out loud is a special moment for the threeyear- old. Efe and the charttopping singer Muhabbet had both been invited by sisters Lerzan and Berfin to a reading party.

The girls’ parents had been following the Reading is Fun campaign broadcast by the Turkishlanguage radio station Metropol FM, and had applied to host one of the popular reading parties. Ten weeks later the radio producers visited the Turkish family one Sunday afternoon to broadcast live from the children’s rooms.

The wide-ranging educational campaign supported by Radyo Metropol, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, and the Stiftung Lesen (Foundation for Reading) included daily programs between March and May on all aspects of reading. As well as editorial reports from experts, there were short spots with celebrities and the campaign also had its own cartoon mascot, a little mouse called Mauscuk.

Parents don’t read to kids

The impetus for the campaign came from the results of a 2010 study which looked at reading and storytelling habits in German families from an immigrant background. According to the study, parents in one-third of families of Turkish origin never read to their children (aged two to eight). "The majority of ethnic Turkish Germans come from rural areas of Turkey, where reading is not considered to be very important," explains Tamer Ergün, director of Metropol FM. The campaign sought to show parents the link between literacy and education as clearly as possible, and in Turkish. Describing the approach taken by the campaign, Ergün explains that "We wanted to draw upon our affinity to the Turkish community in Germany and to take account of Turkish sensitivities."

Success has proved the Berlinbased radio station right: associations, ministries, schools, and day care centers, even individuals, all contacted the station to give their support to the campaign. By the time Reading is Fun came to an end, the broadcaster was working with almost 50 organizations and 80 pediatricians. And according to letters from listeners, many Turkish families plan to carry on with the reading parties, even without the radio.

(Michael Herm, July 2011)

Interview with Murat Topal

"Movies can't hold a candle to books," says the German-Turkish comedy star and author, Murat Topal, speaking in an interview for the "Reading is Fun" campaign. He goes on to explain why reading a story is better than watching it on TV. (Photo by Katja Renner)

Reading party with singer Muhabbet