At the crime night in the city library, the children showed their knowledge and interest in the topic of “crime and crime investigation”. With small games and a creative group phase, the participants worked on this topic in a playful way. Investigate, observe, combine and search for clues: all of these are part of a good crime story.
Arrived from Berlin
Frank Sommer traveled from Berlin as part of the Literature Days to track down criminals with the children and young people. Sommer is a state-certified actor, storyteller and lecturer in German as a foreign language. He has been working as a reading mediator for 30 years and has founded two agencies in the course of this.
He describes himself as a “reading expert”. In order to inspire children to read, he packs topics and content into stories and campaigns that arouse children’s curiosity. According to Sommer, this is not a reading, but an open discussion with questions, suggestions and, of course, lots of information.
Cordula Stepper, Assistant Library Director, welcomed the children and young people, ages 10 to 14, before the program really got underway.
Frank Sommer started with yes or no questions about imaginary scenarios. Is it a crime to illegally ride a bicycle in the schoolyard? Or if you steal from the store? With this introduction, he introduced the children to the world of crime and crime-fighting. With small definitions and pictures, he explained the different areas of crime investigation in a playful way.
Involved in the action
The children were repeatedly involved in the events and the conversation by reading aloud and asking questions. Questions were clarified such as: How do you recognize a burglary? When is a crime considered a crime? Who is involved in the investigation and what are the different people doing there and for what reason? What is the difference between criminal police and patrol police? Why does the forensic team wear a protective mask and suits?
How good are the witnesses?
Again and again, children were allowed to go to Frank Sommer as experts from the “Albstadt Police Academy” and explain and show the others a sub-area – such as securing evidence or fingerprints.
In order to show how little the human brain can remember in a short time, Sommer showed the children 17 objects for 10 seconds and the children then had to list which objects they could still remember. Most came up with seven things, which is a lot considering experts say most people can only remember five things.
What does the person look like?
Descriptions of people also play an important role for the police. For this, Sommer played a game with the children in which they had to describe what the person who walked out of the room looked like. Amazingly, some children could even remember the color of the shoelaces, and together they came up with an accurate description of the person.
Eyewitnesses are important
After the break, the group split up at three stations. All of the actions revolved around the subject of eyewitnesses. In the first group, a short thriller was written. The second group dealt with a game scene at the police station and the last action was a video report. The children slipped into the roles of witnesses, police officers and reporters. The only requirement the children had to create their own individual stories was that the word Albstadt had to appear once. Finally, the groups presented their results. It turned out that the stories were worked out differently despite the same framework.