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Interview with Andrea Steinburg

Steinburg, Andrea
Adinolfi, Elizabeth
Date of Interview: 
Cultural Identification; Stories and Storytellers
Andrea Steinburg discusses her favorite childhood stories and books.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Elizabeth Adinolfi interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
EA (Elizabeth Adinolfi): All right, um, tell me about stories that you were read to as a child?
AS (Andrea Steinburg): Um, most of them were like fairytales, and there's a specific book about, it's called Max und Moritz, and it's two little guys, and they do all these [pause] tricky things to their neighbors. And sometimes really bad things, like they burn people and [pause], but, as a child, I didn't realize they were pretty cruel I just thought they were funny.
EA: OK. [Laughs] Who told these stories to you?
AS: Um, actually, most of the stories were read to me by my grandma and my mom. I think these are the only two adults who, read stories to me.
EA: Uh, what were your, what was your favorite story growing up?
AS: My favorite story, actually was the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. I love it. I could hear it over and over again, and even if I kind of knew it by heart, after my fifth or sixth time, um, I still loved it, I wanted to hear it over and over again.
EA: Uh-huh. OK, what did you like best about that story?
AS: Um [pause], I liked, um, it wasn't Little Red Riding Hood. It was, um, I don't know if you can know this, Hansel and Gretel?
EA: Hansel and Gretel?
AS: Yeah like those two, um, kids, and I thought it was pretty exciting how they, um, went to the forest and how smart they were with the breadcrumbs. And, um, "Oh these parents, they are so mean," and I liked the contrast, and I liked the way how the tricked the witch. And so--
EA: Did it scare you when you thought they might be burned in the oven?
AS: Um, actually no. I mean they didn't get burned, and I was very I was very happy when I heard that the witch was burning.
EA: [Laughs] Good.
AS: So--
EA: Um, what were your least favorite stories? What stories did you hear that you just hated?
AS: I think there weren't any which I really hated, and if they were boring, I forgot.
EA: Yeah, that's true. [Laughs]
AS: So, it's hard to tell.
EA: Um, what stories in your childhood had the most impact on you? If you can think back.
AS: [Pause] To be honest, I don't think they had any impact on me [pause]. I mean I enjoyed them, I enjoyed listening to them, I enjoyed reading them later on, but I can't think of any impact. I don't think they changed my life or my attitude or my way of thinking, so--
EA: Do you have any younger sisters or brothers?
AS: Yeah, I have a younger brother.
EA: Did you read to him?
AS: Um, no because I didn't like him.
EA: [Laughs]
AS: I played with him sometimes, but I was fighting a lot, and I didn't want to get close or be nice to him because every time I was nice to him he was mean to me. So I thought it wouldn't pay to be nice to him and maybe read a story to him.
EA: [Laughs] That's cute!
AS: Sometimes, my mom, she read stories to both of us, but I don't think that I read a story to him. [Laughs]
EA: That's fine. What do you think the difference is between German, uh, childhood stories and American? You, being a teacher, I'm curious.
AS: Yeah, actually I've just read two book like Charlotte's Web and, oh my gosh, I don't remember this story. It's a chapter book about this girl who finds a secret well, which makes people not age or so? Um, to, to what I know is that, um, I think, um, in America there are more, um, fict, Non-fict, fictional books, like, um, or fantasy stories. And, um, the content's not that serious, like in Germany, um, uh, especially for teenagers, the stories are, um, serious, like about, um, the Second World War and the Holocaust and the Jews, and I remember reading a lot of these books. And actually I haven't looked closer over here at, um, the bookstores but--
EA: What's, what's your favorite book? Um, when you're talking about teenage years, what was your favorite book?
AS: Um, [pause] I don't, uh, remember the title but it was a book about a boy and a girl, and they met in an airport. And, um, somehow they stayed at the airport [clears throat] until they close it, and they kind of spent the night at the airport. And the one walked around and they found this, um, I don't know, this slot machine, or this machine where you can get like gums or whatever. And they, they got a ball out of it. And it was a magic ball and, um, or they imagined it was a magic ball. I don't remember what it was about, but I was fascinated by this idea of spending a whole night in an airport. [Laughter]
EA: That's great. When you were, when you were old enough to read on your own, what books did you choose?
AS: Um, I think I start with uh, very simple books, just first picture books with a lot of pictures and less text. And then, um, I think I read a lot of these typical books like this girl book like, um, about horses. And there's a story about these two twins. They are in, uh, these schools where you like, you stay for the semester. I don't know how you call them--
EA: Boarding school?
AS: Yeah, maybe. And, um, then from that, from this kind of trivial literature, I moved on to these, these more serious books about the Second World War and all about that [pause] racism and some scared me. Like there was one about a fictional bombing on a, I don't know how to say it [pause] atom bomb? And, um, it scared me because it, it was, it take, took place these days and it was so real I really could imagine that it could happen to you everyday, so it really scared me.
EA: If, if you were going to write a children's book, what, um, what either would you write it about or what, what types of things would you focus on?
AS: Um, as I'm not that good of a writer, I would choose a, a funny book, a book that really, kids enjoy reading. Um, I think I wouldn't choose any, um, serious subjects. I would choose fun subjects like um, um, I have a very funny picture book, uh, which I read, um, with my kids at school in Germany. It's called, um, The Story of the Little Mole Who Wanted to Know Who Dropped a, um, a Piece of [pause] some Poop, Poop on His Head. So he went around and asked all these animals, "Hey, hey did you do this?" And then they came back, "No I didn't do it because I do it like that." And they drop everything, they drop their poop. And he said, "OK you, you weren't it." So he moves on to the next he says, "Hey horse, did you do that?" And the horse said, "No I didn't do it, I do it like this." So, and I think kids like these books to make fun of things and I think it's important to catch, catch their interest.
EA: Um, OK, this is going to be the final question. Uh, what is your philosophy of reading? What, what is, what do you believe is important?
AS: Um, I think the most important thing is that you have fun and you, you are really into this book, especially when you were older and you read chapter books that you, um, forget about the world around you, you just, you're into in this book and, um, when you and it's very hard to, to just put it aside because you have to go to sleep or do some work and you can't wait to go back to your book. I think that's the best thing if you read a book.