Reading fairy tales to children or storytelling does not only lay a foundation stone of literacy development but relates also to various cross-cultural values and behaviours. Studies also show that regular storytelling activities can help broaden a child’s vocabulary. The imagination of children is promoted when they are listening to fairy tales. Fairy tales contribute to preserving language, habits and traditions.
With 10 to 12 million, Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Europe. Opposite to majority societies, Roma do not have their own land and - with limitations - also no national identity. What unites them beyond the borders of the countries they are living in are their myths, habits and traditions. For preserving and developing their cultural identity further, their language - Romanes - is indispensable.
Due to the century long social and cultural stigmatisation and discrimination of the Roma and their language, the usage of Romanes as literature and stage language was avoided. This led to the situation that Romanes could not really be enrooted in education.
Our project aims in the long run at preserving Romanes through fairy tales as relevant part of the cultural identity of Roma and at utilising it for intercultural and cross-generational learning and for improving basic skills. Because whatever Roma do and wherever they go, they only rarely have their own fairy tales. Roma fairy tales were not written down and therefore not picturised. They are neither to be found in their bookshelf nor in a book shop or on the internet. The low number of still present fairy tales are only existing in the heads of a few storytellers. It is a question of time until they disappear as well...
In the frame of the project, Roma fairy tales shall be tracked and collected in Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Turkey. Since no usual sources, such as archives or libraries, can be reverted to, the project partners will at first identify Roma who are known as story tellers and who obtain a treasure of legends, anecdotes and stories. Accordingly trained staff members of the partner organisations will then record the fairy tales, put them down on paper and translate them into English. After that, they shall be examined for similarities and differences and categorised by animal stories, magic stories, legends, anecdotes and aetiological stories.
In a follow-up project, the selected fairy tales shall be translated into the mainly spoken Romanes-dialect and the national language of the partner countries and published as a European Roma fairy tale book.