CONTRIBUTED BY LUCY B.
When we first arrived in Germany, I struggled to find a community I could relate to. I worked hard to meet other parents in our neighborhood and at the kids’ school, and I struggled to eke out a few sentences of German to the other moms on the playground whenever I could, but sometimes you miss your own language and familiar stories. I also quickly found that English language books can be hard to find and rather expensive. This is where the Children’s English Library of Stuttgart comes in.
The Stuttgart Children’s English Library is like a little English-speaking oasis in the middle of a German city. They have a collection of over 6,000 books that they’re constantly rotating and updating, as well as books on tape and even young adult novels for the older kids. Now you can get some English books at the Stuttgart City Public Library, but not 6,000 children’s books, and you don’t get the amazing sense of readymade community you get with the Children’s English Library. There’s a friendly, family-oriented group of expats that get together to do crafts, read stories and sing songs. It’s a great way to meet English-speaking parents and kids and form playgroups and new friendships. There are plenty of chairs and cozy little corners to curl up with a book or sit down with a snack.
Our latest outing to the library was for a felting workshop (free for members, 5 Euros for non-members). The instructor, Julie, let the kids through a fun little story with a whale and a snail and then helped them craft their own whales and snails out of felt. The activity was fun and engaging, and the parents and kids had a little time for creativity and chit-chat as well.
One of my biggest concerns in raising bilingual kids is getting them enough authentic exposure to English language. My kids can watch television, listen to music, and read books in English, but none of that gets them the peer-to-peer interaction that really helps language use to blossom. In the workshop we visited, there were discussions about how to follow directions, the types of materials we were using, how the crafts related to the story we’d read, and plenty of other communication. A few kids even got into a discussion about the correct pronunciation of ‘water’ (British vs. American), which was interesting and adorable.
A membership costs 50 Euros per year to join. That gets you 15 books at a time for up to a month. You can renew online if you don’t have time to return them when they’re due. Membership also gets you into the workshops for free or for a discount (depending on the workshop). Non-members have to pay a small fee for the workshops. They have (and this is essential in my book) a clean restroom, and kitchen facilities where parents can get coffee and kids can snack or have a juice or water for a small fee. They run entirely on volunteer power, so if you like reading and interacting with kids, make sure to sign up.
Children’s English Library Stuttgart
Address: Stuttgart Ost, Traubergstraße 30, 70186 Stuttgart, Germany
GPS Coordinates: 48.76983000000001, 9.19826999999998
Directions (from website):
Limited street parking. However, the library will be easily accessible from the U15 “Payer Str.” tram stop, allowing easy access from the centre of Stuttgart and for those wishing to park and ride from the Fernsehturm.
From the Payerstr. U-Bahn stop cross the road and, if you haven’t got a pram with you, cut down Braunweg, turn right at the bottom on to Traubergstr. and the library is just round the corner past the garage doors. To avoid the steps, after crossing the road, walk down Albert-Schäffle-Str. and then turn left into Traubergstr.