Why reading aloud is so important
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 creating equality between children and families, regardless of their social or economic background. Read Aloud provides hands-on information for parents, educators and other professionals working with children and families.
Home, early childhood education, schools and libraries 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. Read Aloud shares information about the importance of reading aloud through child health care clinics* and aims at reaching out to all families regardless 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 oneself. However, reading aloud continues to have a major positive impact on children and young people’s literacy even when they are already literate.
A book bag to every baby born
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 in every family in Finland. The Finnish Cultural Foundation provided funding for the program. Finnish Government provided additional funds for the information materials.
Book bag for every baby born promotes early reading and has increased reading aloud to babies. Over the course of the campaign, book bags have been distributed to all children born in Finland during visits to the maternal and child health care clinics. The bag is available in Finnish and Swedish. Also book bags in Sami, Somali, Arabic, Estonian, and Russian were available in 2019-2021.
The bags contents were put together by a team of experts, and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare is a partner in the program. The Read Aloud Campaign is carried out by The Finnish Reading Center. The program was funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation years 2019-2021. In 2022 and 2023 the program is funded by the Finnish Parliament.
In June 2023 Book Bag to Every Baby Born program has been included in the Finnish Government Program.
Why a book gift program?
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%).
Why maternity and child health clinics?
The goal is to provide book bags 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 Finland. 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 -program is produced by The Finnish Reading Center and Funded by the Parliament of Finland.
Project Manager Ms. Emmi Jäkkö, +358 50 563 8998, emmi.jakko(a)lukukeskus.fi