Play and Read in Romanian in Dokk1

Catalina Hansen is a Romanian engineer located in Aarhus, who loves children´s literature, and to share her passion with fellow Romanians. When she contacted Dokk1 for a location for “play and read” events for Romanians, it was a perfect match.

30 Romanian children and their parents participated in the latest “Play and read” workshop in the main library in Aarhus, Dokk1, which combined reading of Romanian children´s books with creative activities. The theme of the workshop was love, self-love and unconditional love and it was arranged by Catalina Hansen, whose interest in children´s literature began when she became a mother. She says:

"I think I have been reading for as long, as I can remember, and when I became mother to my son, I started to realize how difficult it was to teach Romanian in a foreign country. So slowly we started reading Romanian children´s books, and I realized that modern children´s books are awesome – They have great topics, stories and illustrations. So, I fell in love with children´s books, and we kept buying a lot of books. My son loves books, and we have been reading to him since he was less than 1 year."

Catalina Hansen primarily uses her own books in her workshops, but she is aware, that it is possible to borrow books in Romanian at the Danish libraries. The process of acquiring the books is a bit heavy, since the collection of books in foreign languages is shared by all the Danish libraries, and it takes some patience to get the books. Therefor she brings her own library to Dokk1:

"All the books are in Romanian, and alle the books are from my personal library. I started the project with my own books. (…) It has developed into a kind of obsession – We have 400 – 500 books in Romanian at home." 

Keeping language and culture alive with books

The workshops Catalina Hansen and her colleagues facilitate are very popular, and normally sold out quickly. The project is a part of an international corporation with 13 European countries, and is also present in Copenhagen and in Billund, where Alina Axinte and Petruta Stefanescu facilitate the workshops.

There is a strong desire among Romanians to present Romanian literature and culture to their kids. The latest workshop was attended by Romanians from Aarhus, Vejle, Randers, Ringkøbing and Viborg, and Catalina Hansen is a bit overwhelmed by its popularity. She says:

"We started out testing how it worked for three months, and now we have an agreement with Dokk1 to hold workshops every third Sunday each month. It´s been very popular and the interest has been a bit overwhelming. There are many kids who come again and again but we also see some new faces every time."

Catalina Hansen is convinced, that having access to literature in your own language is very important in terms of understanding your own culture. Especially for people who have migrated to another country. Her view is backed by Ramona, who attended the workshop with her 4-year-old daughter. She puts this way:

"I´m doing everything I can to keep the Romanian language and culture alive in our family. My daughter is born here, and she speaks Danish, but it is important for me, and later for her, to know about Romanian culture and language. Reading books is a very important part of getting to know your own culture, and it´s not only about language but also about Romanian culture as such."

Ramona and Catalina live in the Aarhus area, and both often come to Dokk1 with their children. They are impressed by the Danish system of libraries and of Dokk1 in particular. But the main thing for Catalina is the love for literature and her desire to share that love with her fellow Romanians. She ends the interview saying:

"I would like people to know how important it is to speak the mother tongue, and it´s a gift parents can give their children and reading books can support that. Everybody should read as much as possible."

There will be “Play and read” workshops in Dokk1 every third Sunday of each month, and on the 26. of March 250 people will attend a special event in Dokk1, “Store Sal” with the bestselling Romanian author in 2022, Ioana Chicet-Macoveiciuc.

Learn more about the project here (In Romanian):

"Play and read" is one of many partnerhips that Aarhus Public Libraries form in order to create the best possible library offer to the citizen’s in Aarhus.