Is the Struwwelpeter a good book to read children?

no.The book is not suitable for young children. In any case, not without accompanying explanation. The Sruwwelpeter, however, is an important testimony of the times, which represented the perspective of the adult towards the child at that time.

You have to understand the book in its contemporary context.It was first published in 1845*- at a time when there was hardly any children’s literature in German-speaking countries and children as such were not yet perceived as beings with our modern claim to childhood.

The idea of the modern family as an emancipated small cell of a group that stood out from the large group (sipp, court community, village – all still strictly hierarchically regulated), i.e. parents with children who socially and economically detached themselves from the relatives’ family, at that time it developed in the first place (reasons were industrialization, urban growth, waves of emigration to America, etc.).The view of the adult, who directed his energy in the form of caring for the child, was actually a relatively new experience in European society and in the North American colons. In other words, the focus on the child was a new social event that had never existed before.

Until then, children were at best seen as possible economic resources that, if they reached adulthood at all (child mortality was high), were only perceived as labour power, i.e. when they were old enough to be able to and contribute to the preservation of the community.

The picture: Girl at work in a coal mine.

An old English proverb represents pretty much how children were perceived then and even earlier: Children should be seen and notheard.

(English: Proverb – already in use in the 15th/16th century***).

Educational issues, the right to school, the right to health and the protection against exploitation, availability and self-image of toys – all these issues and questions as such have not yet been the focus of society orthey were just beginning to force themselves into the consciousness of a few.

You don’t have to like or love the Struwwelpeter, which seems strange these days.But you certainly don’t have to demonize him. The Struwwelpeter, which came into the public spotlight in the mid-19th century, is an indication that the first awkward thoughts began to be made about the concept of child and childhood. To be a child until then meant being completely delivered in a society that did not perceive the child, or at best, as an economic greatness.Seen in this way, the Struwwelpeter is almost a ray of light in the darkness of past generations of childhood.

The question is: is the Struwwelpeter a good book to read to children?

Note: I understood it as follows: Can the book still be expected of the children today?

*Struwwelpeter – Wikipedia

**The Coal Industry: 1600-1925

‘Children should be seen and not heard’ – the meaning and origin of this phrase

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