Children's Books and Illustration
“Can I play too?” In Ramallah

Jens Rassmus in Ramallah
© Matthieu Jeuland

A child, a football and a search for friends to play with: "Kann ich mitspielen?" [Can I play too?] is the title of Jens Rassmus' children's book, which was translated into Arabic and published in Ramallah. In March 2016, the book was presented along with a workshop for illustrators from Gaza and the West Bank.

In March 2016, the author and illustrator Jens Rassmus presented his children’s book Kann ich mitspielen. Eine Fußballgeschichte [Can I play too? A football story] at the Goethe-Institut Ramallah. The book was translated into Arabic by Mahmoud Hassanien and published by the Palestinian Tamer Institute, Center for Community Education with support from This is the second children's book written by Rassmus that has been translated into Arabic: Der Zapperdockel und der Wock also was published in 2005 by the Tamer Institute with support from Litrix, during the first focus year Arabic in 2004-2005.


Jens Rassmus is particularly pleased that his football story is now available in Arabic: “It feels great to hold this book in my hands, when a book is translated it’s always a wonderful occasion, but this one is very special for me: firstly, because I had the chance to meet the kind and dedicated people from the Tamer Institute; and secondly, since my trip to Ramallah, I can now understand the importance of books for children in Palestine.” Little Micky, the young hero in Rassmus' children's book, makes new friends and teammates thanks to his brand new football: the hare Rübaldi, the bear Van Brummel, the giant Lulatschitsch and many others. “I was very curious how the names of the characters would be translated,” says Jens Rassmus. “They sound very funny and poetic in Arabic. The rabbit is now called Abu Sria (= the fast one) and the bear's name is Abu Kaff (= the one with the big hands and feet). In fact, during my stay, I learned to love the sound of this language.”


Video of the Book Presentation and the Illustrator’s Workshop in Ramallah

Young illustrators from the West Bank and Gaza had an opportunity to attend a four-day workshop with Jens Rassmus at the Goethe-Institut Ramallah, where they were able to interact with the author and draw inspiration for their own work.  “I was surprised at how effortless the drawing workshop turned out to be,” says Jens Rassmus, “and how easily we could exchange ideas about images and techniques. Almost all of the participants brought their smartphones and showed me photos of their work. Only a few of them had ever illustrated a story. Some came from the liberal arts, but had very figurative and representational styles that are easily adapted to the art of illustration.” The participants also discussed various ways of creating art projects and readings for children.

"For some of the participants, this workshop made it possible to obtain an exit permit from Gaza for the first time in their life. I hadn’t realized before what extent the Palestinian population is confined there. One of the participants, for example, was thrilled to see the mountains; she had never seen them before. I was dismayed by the conditions under which many of them lived, but also glad that a few people were able to leave the West Bank for the workshop.”

Approximately 300 copies of the Arabic translation of this title have been sent to libraries throughout Germany that are especially committed to working with refugee children and adolescents. The Goethe-Institut initiative, which was organized within the context of the ‘Einfach Lesen!’ program, was also supported by the Japan Art Association.

Zaia Alexander