This double issue celebrates the 40th anniversary of The Finnish Institute for Children’s Literature. In the editorial, Tuula Korolainen reveals that she will resign as editor of Onnimanni, a position she has held for 30 years. Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen will be the new editor from June onwards.
Tuula Korolainen and a team has investigated how often children’s books are mentioned in popular Finnish journals during a period from September 1st until the end of December 2017. The result is saddening. Among the 17 journals studied, some did not refer to children’s books at all. Others presented random books in modest advertorials in their supplements, in particular before Christmas. Most coverage concentrated on a few bestsellers.
Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen comments on contemporary reading campaigns in Finland aimed at developing children’s literacy and interest in reading. The Minister of Education and Culture has initiated a National Literacy Forum that will draft guidelines for how to bring about positive change. Heikkilä-Halttunen also mentions other current projects initiated by libraries, schools, nurseries and foundations. Kaisa Laaksonen reports on last year’s Suuri lukuseikkailu-project, co-organized by the Institute.
Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen, Jenni Salminen and Eija Pakarinen present their research, carried out at the University of Jyväskylä, on how reading habits at home affect 2-, 3- and 6-year-old children’s reading abilities. Children’s own “reading” – e.g., how often they look at books and magazines – turned out to be the most crucial factor. Having learned to read, children develop their literacy skills and interest in reading the more they read. Other isolated factors have less or no influence at all.
Kaisa Lange writes about reading aloud and grandparents reading for their grandchildren. She concludes that reading together may not necessarily make children active readers, but will give them a sense of the importance of literature and does open doors for them into the world of reading.
Elina Martikainen sums up the Institute’s history from 2003 to 2018 covering the development of the library and the collection of illustrations, seminars and exhibitions, reading campaigns and co-projects. The Institute’s staff reports an ordinary week at work in pictures. Board members describe their relations to the Institute and to Zachris Topelius who was born 200 years ago.
Merja Leppälahti takes a closer look at the child protagonists in three of Zachris Topelius’s fairy tales published in his Läsning för barn (1865−1896). Leppälahti discusses the rewards and punishments each child receives for being good or bad. As in folk tales, those who behave badly suffer a cruel fate. Goodness is rewarded, yet not always in expected ways. God’s will and nature are other prominent features of these fairy tales.
In the news section we learn, e.g. that children’s author Tuula Korolainen has received the Tirlittan Prize. Other award winners are Magdalena Hai’s fantasy novel Kurnivamahainen kissa, Karin Erlandsson’s fantasy novel Pärlfiskaren, Elina Rouhiainen’s urban fantasy novel Muistojenlukija and Leena Parkkinen’s children’s book Pikkuveli ja mainio harharetki.