How a 15-year-old from Frankfurt got the shortlist
Frankfurt – Some sentences affect the nerves of Johann Wachter (15). For example, “Boys don’t read anyway.” It was precisely these words that reached his ears nearly two years ago when he and his parents visited a restaurant while on vacation in Sicily and saw a mother at the next table getting upset about her ten-year-old son. It was very hard to keep busy. He’d rather stick to his smartphone than stick his nose into a book. And that it would be easier with girls this age. The Frankfurt student remembers that it was very upsetting—especially since the boy in question had to hear his mother’s sermon.
Johann Wachter, himself an avid reader, could not get these words out of his head. Instead of just getting angry about it, he had an idea: start a blog with tips about books on the Instagram social network.
Creative streak runs in the family; Johann’s grandfather was the legendary painter FK Waechter, and Johann’s father Philip Waechter is known and appreciated nationally as an illustrator and author of children’s books. So it’s no wonder Johan’s parents agreed, and so it began. The name of his new channel was quickly found out after his signature restaurant experience: “jungs_lesen_eh_nicht”. Which is what is meant by the irony, of course. Because, says the 15-year-old, who is in 10th grade from IGS Nordend and loves to play soccer and drums, he knows at least as many boys as girls who like to immerse themselves in a book.
Ironically, it’s his blog name
It is now subscribed to by nearly 2,300 Instagram users. His greatest success: His blog was recently shortlisted for the 2021 German Reading Prize. But, says Johann Wachter, at first he didn’t like handling books himself. True, his parents always read him a lot. But to spell the stories together on your own “I found it very stressful at first”.
Until that vacation when he drove across the US with his parents in a buggy seven years ago. On the long rides he was bored at first, until he finally opened one of the books he took with him. Not only has he discovered that he can read in the car without feeling ill, but also with a little practice, deciphering the words isn’t that difficult.
Since then he has devoted himself to reading with increasing enthusiasm. When he was on vacation in Sicily, his mother gave him a special book: “The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear” by Walter Moers – a 700-page volume that Johann looked at initially suspiciously. But his mother just smiled knowing: “Go ahead and start.” In the end he did. He read on the beach, he read in the evening, and soon he was under the spell of the wooden spider, the stepsons of the stairs, the dark mountain worms, and the notepad sand, that he devoured the novel faster than he thought. Then he wrote his first comment about it for his new Instagram channel.
Since then, he has reviewed about 180 books there. For example the American writer Jason Reynolds or the British humorist Roald Dahl, among his favorite authors. Or the picture books about the little donkey Ariol, as well as classics like “Krabat” by Outfried Prossler and current non-fiction books like Philip Stefan’s Talk to Him! Even his chemistry book appears on his blog — not as guidelines, but as a frightening example of inaccurate racism. Because, As Johann Wachter writes, apart from miners and people pulling water bottles in the drought zone, there is practically no one with dark skin: “All 76 hands in the book that conduct experiments are all always white. It becomes so that the image conveys: white people are scientists and people of color. “
In another post, he reflects on role stereotypes: Is it really true that boys prefer reading men’s books? And is it true that this is the reason why the author of the “Harry Potter” books only works under the name J.K. Rowling in Great Britain to this day? Exciting questions that sparked lively discussions among its participants. The 15-year-old thinks it’s very simple: “Books are unisex. Books are for everyone.” Also to read men.
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