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Textbook of the Year

30/03/2017 | Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research

This year the jury honoured extraordinary textbooks at the primary level. The textbooks impressed the jury in their ability to offer diverse, child-appropriate approaches to complex topics.

On 24 March 2017, the winners of the 'Textbook of the Year 2017' were announced at the Leipzig Book Fair. This year the jury of experts from academia, education and publishing honoured extraordinary textbooks at the primary level: Kunst mit uns is textbook of the year in the category 'Society'; the prize in the 'Languages' category went to Come in; and Das Zahlenbuch received the highest honour in the category 'Mathematics'. The Jury awarded a special prize for 'Diversity in Educational Media' to the textbook Komm zu Wort, in the area of German as a second language. The 'Textbook of the Year' award is presented under the patronage of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the German Länder.

This was the sixth year that the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research presented an award for best textbooks. The Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) has been a partner of the Leibniz Institute since 2016. Through this award, the Institute recognises and honours publishers and authors who have developed and implemented innovative textbook concepts. The Institute intends for the award to stimulate wider debates about the quality of textbooks as well as advance the continuous development of educational materials. The jury selects outstanding contemporary textbooks that demonstrate bold and innovative approaches, in a process guided by the following criteria: didactic concept, discipline-specific content, focus on the learner, quality of tasks, comprehensibility and design.

Textbooks should convey knowledge and take pupils on a voyage of discovery, piquing their curiosity, spurring them forward, drawing on their everyday experiences and helping them understand the world. The primary-level textbooks honoured this year rise to all of these challenges: 'These textbooks impressed us in their ability to offer diverse, child-appropriate approaches to complex topics. By entering their world, stimulating their fantasy, posing open questions, introducing problems and taking many different perspectives, these works enable pupils to access demanding content in individual ways', explained Prof. Eckhardt Fuchs, Director of the Georg Eckert Institute and chairman of the jury.

'Textbooks form and hone a person's view of the world and society. They make connections visible', said Thomas Krüger, President of the bpb. 'The topics they choose, the people they show, and their didactic and methodological approaches pose the question, "How do we want to live?" and empower their readers to seek answers. For these reasons, the bpb is excited to join the Georg Eckert Institute in honouring the best textbooks.'

Winner in the Category 'Languages'

Come in 1/2
Ernst Klett Verlag 2016
Authors: Birgit Fretzdorff, Anna Fröhlich, Svea Große-Brauckmann, Nina Heidelberg, Anne Marxen, Viktoria Vutz

Taking a holistic approach, Come in offers an introduction to the English language for school beginners: it includes suggestions for drawing and painting, songs to sing along to, impulses for mimic and gesture, and games to reinforce vocabulary. Its loving design uses pictograms and drawings to describe the various tasks, supporting a monolingual approach to teaching English. To encourage all children to speak, the textbook provides exercises on three different levels. The Smartbox is a wonderful addition to the book, containing nuanced material for individual work and fun games to help improve vocabulary retention.

Winner in the Category 'Society'

Kunst mit uns 1/2
Textbook for primary-level art class
C. C. Buchner/Mildenberger 2015
Editors: Claudia Lutz, Verena Willmann

Even the cover embodies this book's goal: to encourage learners to think about art and become artistically active. Perceiving and creating are brought together in excellent ways and linked to various aspects of cultural history. Kunst mit uns (Art with Us) is structured like a museum with different departments, and two witty cats guide the reader through. The book is impressive in its ability to connect the dots from everyday topics such as art made out of garbage to digital media to famous artworks. Kunst mit uns encourages pupils to approach works of art not only with awe but also with curiosity and openness.

Winner in the Category 'Mathematics'

Das Zahlenbuch 1
Ernst Klett Verlag 2017
Authors: Melanie Bischoff, Daniela Götze, Birgit Heß, Gerhard N. Müller, Marcus Nührenbörger, Ralph Schwarzkopf, Erich CH. Wittmann

Das Zahlenbuch (The Numbers Book) provides school beginners with a wonderfully structured introduction to mathematics. It places great value on establishing a strong understanding of numbers, for example through clever exercises on decomposing numbers and the early introduction of the zero. The approach follows a tradition of learning through active discovery and productive practice. In particular the 'investigator pages' provide problem-solving tasks for all levels. Inspiration for communication and argumentation can be found throughout the entire book, and a differentiated internal reference system supports teachers in developing their pupils' competences. The 'Blitzrechnen' (Lightning Calculation) app and explanatory films are convincing digital extensions of the concept.

Special Prize for Diversity

Komm zu Wort 1 and 2
Listening/picture book
German as a second language
Finken 2015/2016
Authors: Doris Fischer, Christina Kellner

Thematically, Komm zu Wort begins where children have their first contact with the German language: at school. This demonstrates sensitivity for the situation of these children, who are actively addressed as individuals joining in from another position (Seiteneinsteiger). Didactically the textbook implements the basic steps of qualification towards language acquisition in an exemplary way. A key tool is the 'Ting Pen', with which the pupils can select words or sentences to be read out loud, or can discover hidden elements in elaborately detailed scenes. In this way, they can direct their own learning of pronunciation, vocabulary, German syntax patterns, and simple grammatical structures. The textbook also provides initial impulses for narration and dialogue. Used in combination, the book and Ting Pen represent a clever introduction to the German language that will help both teachers and learners.


Catrin Schoneville
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