The aim of this initiative is to encourage the parents of small children to read aloud to them. Website and additional guides and information are provided to inform parents on the importance on reading to a child. In 2019-21 every baby born gets a book bag to give equal opportunities for early reading for every family.
Reading aloud regularly boosts children’s vocabulary, supports their emotional development and has a major influence on their future literacy and school performance. Reading aloud is one of the key factors in boosting the equality between children and families, regardless of their social or economic background. The campaign provides parents, educators and other adults hands-on information, hints and reading suggestions for children of all age groups.
Home, early childhood education, school and library together create the framework and resources for children and youth to develop a desire to read. Literacy is only developed when it is trained in an active and multifaceted manner. The reading habits adopted in early childhood define the habits of adolescence and adulthood. The Read Aloud shares information about the importance of reading aloud through child health care clinics* and aim at reaching out to all families regardless their social or economic background.
Listening to regular read-aloud stories boosts children’s vocabulary, supports their emotional development and has a major influence on their future literacy and school performance. Reading aloud is one of the key factors in boosting the equality between children and families, regardless of their social or economic background.
The ability and motivation to read is based on early childhood experiences. The role of parents is especially important during the early years, when the child cannot read by themselves. However, reading aloud continues to have a major positive impact on children and young people’s literacy even when they are already literate.
All the information about the program Book bag to every baby born in Finland and the facts about the importance of reading can be found in Finnish and Swedish.
The materials about the importance of reading created reply to the urgent demand of the early education and child health care clinic professionals to help them encourage the parents to read aloud to their children, as there was a lack of reliable and extensive materials this far. A printable leaf let and a booklet is provided in 15 languages and are free to use.
Materials in 15 languages
In 2018 The Finnish reading Center created a concept for a national book bag -program. The idea was to provide equal opportunities for early reading for every family in Finland. The Finnish Cultural Foundation also interested in early reading and provided funding for the program. Also Finnish government provided additional funds for the information materials.
In 2019 The Finnish Reading Center published new books for the program, one for the babies and one with bedtime stories. Books were written by the prominent Finnish childrens authors and illustrated by experienced illustrators. Even health care and child development specialists were consulted in order to provide books suitable for target age: babies and toddlers. Also guides and leaflets were produced to give parents the information on the importance of reading to a child.
Finland still ranks number one as the most literate country in the world. Children and adolescents excel in PISA (2018 4th) and PIRLS (2016 5th) but attitudes towards reading are changing: motivation and enthusiasm expressed by children and adolescents is one of the lowest in the world. Also parents’ attitude towards reading has recently become more negative = PIRLS 2011 9% vs. 2017 16%. Proportion of weak readers has risen from 11% (PISA 2015) to 14% (PISA 2018, boys 20%).
The goal is to provide book bag -program to all families regardless their social or economic background. Maternity and child health care centers are free of charge and
easy to reach for clients in every municipality in health clinics. Their services are widely used and accepted regardless of social class. It’s even obligatory to visit them to receive financial support. That’s why 99,4 % of families use these services.
In Finland there’s 50 000 children born per year. Families have 8-9 visits during the normal course of a pregnancy and 10 visits during the first year of an infant’s life and once a year after that (1-6 years).
Book bag contains:
Rhyme book for baby
Bedtime stories for toddler
Height chart for Reading
Invitation to Library
In finnish, swedish and sami language
+ Guidebooklet for professionals
Book Bag -program is produced by The Finnish Reading Center and Funded by The Finnish Cultural Foundation
Project Manager Ms. Emmi Jäkkö, tel.nro +358 50 563 8998, email emmi.jakko(a)lukukeskus.fi