Sasas Jekhvar Jekh – Once upon a time … and now
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.
If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

Albert Einstein
Preserving Romanes by the publication of Roma fairy tales

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.

Children learn from the characters in the stories and this might help them cope with certain situations in their own lives. The stories give the children hints how to handle anxieties, battles, and problems in real life. It also promotes critical thinking. At the same time, fairy tales help to preserve our language, habits, and traditions.


Despite of the fact that Romanes is a spoken, not a written language with many different dialects, the targeted survey in Roma communities that we implemented within the Strategic Partnership “pROMise – Preserving Romanes in adult education” showed:

  • More than 90 per cent of the questioned Roma still speak Romanes, particularly in the family and the circle of friends.
  • Romanes is no language taught at school.
  • A major part of Roma remembers maximum five, another part remembers sadly not one Roma fairy tale
  • No books with Roma fairy tales were published – neither in the national languages nor in Romanes. Thus, they cannot be bought in book shops or found in libraries. Logically, there are no fairy tale movies.
  • Nowadays, only a few elderly Roma (women) know Roma fairy tales.
  • Due to the technical developments, social media etc., storytelling is more and more forgotten.
  • If they are not forwarded to the next generations or recorded, those fairy tales are lost…
  • …With that, both the expression of a Roma community’s imagination, identity and memory and habits, values, traditions are lost as well.

When the partners met in 2018 to implement the small Strategic Partnership “Sasas Jekhvar Jekh – Once upon a time …”, they did not just want to collect the Roma fairy tales and to categorise them. It was rather their intention to preserve Romanes and to use it more and more in the process of lifelong learning. The partners would like to approach this aim by submitting and realising this follow-up project in the adult education field of ERASMUS+.

The project shall bring about the following results:
  • a European Roma Fairy Tale Book in the national language and the mostly spoken Romanes dialect, with illustrations from Roma artists which will be advertised by famous Roma
  • a monography about Roma Fairy Tales
  • a Curriculum and training material for the education of story tellers.

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