Today, plenty of research on young people’s reading habits is carried out in Finland.
As a result of the Lukuklaani (“Reading clan”)-project (2017–2019), funded by e.g. the Finnish Cultural Foundation, primary and secondary schools have received new books for children and young adults. Project coordinator Lotta-Sofia Aaltonen stresses in her article the importance of a wide-ranging library collection when encouraging pupils to read. Active use of school libraries and public libraries rests on teachers and professionals co-operating. Aaltonen emphasises that today there are numerous methods available when teaching first language skills and literature, which are still unknown to many teachers.
Another large project funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation called Taidetestaajat (“Art Testers”) is presented in Joonas Keskinen’s article. All Finnish eighth-graders have been offered two high-quality art experiences (such as art exhibitions, concerts, plays or performances). The project truly listens to the pupils and develops the range of art experiences offered based on their feedback and in collaboration with schools.
The Institute’s “Kiva lukea” -survey carried out in autumn 2019 maps young readers’ attitudes to, opinions on, and preferences for spare time reading. In her article, Elina Martikainen presents the results of the survey concluding that idleness and silence motivate young people to read books. Many 13 to 15-year-old boys find reading the be childish. Many of them say that their lack of interest in reading results from competing spare time hobbies. The results of the Institute’s survey are in line with the results of the latest PISA- survey.
According to Elina Kritzokat, who has received the Finnish State Award for Foreign Translators, language rhythm is essential especially when translating children’s books. Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen has interviewed Kritzokat, who translates Finnish youth literature into German and enjoys translating Timo Parvela’s and Paula Noronen’s anarchistic and singular children’s books.
Mari Taneli’s article digs into recent picturebooks about beginning day care or preschool. The books are filled with timely details that speak to children today. Still, the picturebooks portray surprisingly many male kindergarten staff members given how few men, in fact, work in Finnish kindergartens.
A survey, carried out by the Institute’s library, shows that the varied services provided by the Institute are not that well-known. Whereas the use of materials and services available online have increased, only about a third of those who answered the survey have used the library services on the spot.
Today, more small publishers than ever want to publish books for young people. At best, this extended interest can broaden the range of books on offer since smaller agents dare publish also experimental and non-mainstream literature. Seven small and one medium-sized publisher share their experiences with Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen.
Translation: Maria Lassén-Seger