Saturday, 26 March 2011

Discover your town!

Lately I was looking for a birthday present for my nephew. In the bookshop's children's section my  interest was attracted by a book titled “Entdecke Deine Stadt” (Discover Your Town! A city safari for kids). What, did I miss something?! I know, where I am and,  my town is not that small that it could be overlooked easily.
Well, an example on one of the first pages of the book explained it to me: We know, where we live, but can we describe, in which type of house we are living? Can we compare it's advantages and draw-backs to other house types? And why is our house exactly where it is?
Why do we know more about car models and football players than the street we are living in?
The book strives to change that. It nudges us to  go out and to explore our town. It offers as set of ideas and tools to find our way and to get lost, for describing what we see, feel and hear on our way, and finally, how to change things that we don't like in our city.
It starts with easy games, like “collecting five round items from the street” or looking for faces in buildings and buildings as letters. It explains, how city planning works and why a town is never ready and  what it takes to fit all the citizens' needs into the same area. A glossary helps to understand the basic terms.
It encourages you to take action: to write about the places you like, to mark the places you don't like. How to change the city with street art or guerrilla gardening. Obviously the authors are aware of the fact that some of the suggested practices might cause trouble despite their good intention. So they recommend to get the back-up of your parents.
Features with interviews with kids, architects and city planners make the book even more lively.
By reading the book I got pretty excited and I could have dug my own little guerrilla garden right in front of the book store. But wait! Isn't the book meant for kids? What's the right age?
Obviously adults can have fun with the book too. At the same time kids might struggle with “violation of privacy” (Verletzung der Privatsphäre) or “small- or medium-sized towns” (Klein- und Mittelstädte). These terms are not explained in the glossary.
I was a little bit alienated by the strong sides, the book takes with public transport, walking, cycling and greening and renaturation in the city. Don't get me wrong,  I don't want more cars and soil sealing in the city! But somehow I expect a kid to form its own opinion with all the great tools to discover the town.

Now I discovered the book for me. Soon my nephew and me will go on expedition and discover the town.

Entdecke Deine Stadt Stadtsafari für Kinder

Anke M. Leitzgen & Lisa Reinermann, Beltz & Gelberg, 2010
Here you can catch a glimpse of the book's content.

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