Summary: Onnimanni 1/2017

The main theme of this issue is poetry for children. In the editorial, Tuula Korolainen considers the status of poetry and recounts what recent research says about the impact of reading good poetry.

Mervi Heikkilä has interviewed writer Kaija Pispa, who is especially known for her children’s poetry and song lyrics. Pispa thinks that poetry is close to music and does, in fact, work closely with her musician husband. She wants her poems to be joyful and have substance so that they include ”the whole world”. The years she spent in Africa bring colour and exoticism to her poetry, and her Christian worldview is visible especially in her song lyrics.

Poet Riina Katajavuori recounts her experiences from school visits and presents interesting poets for primary pupils such as Eppu Nuotio, Jukka Itkonen, Tuulia Aho, Hannele Huovi, Tuula Korolainen and Laura Ruohonen. Katajavuori says that children enjoy poems as naturally as a glass of juice and that poems may help children open up about difficult issues. Reading poems out loud, singing them or illustrating them well are the best ways to introduce children to poetry.

Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen presents 21st century poetry books for babies and toddlers. In Finland, poetry and babies meet early on since all families having a baby receive a ”baby box” which includes a book of rhymes. Most baby poetry books include practical poems for everyday use when cuddling and playing with the baby. The poems often come with instructions how to interact with the baby and parents are also offered poetry and music classes. The poems reveal trends in upbringing, the role of parents, as well as honest depictions of exhausted mothers.

Mervi Heikkilä has asked publishers how they choose poems for primary school mother tongue textbooks. Publishers confirm that it is important for pupils to know poetry. Poems support memory skills, imagination, as well as the development of ethical and aesthetical thinking. Often poems address children’s experiences, feelings or nature.

Composer Timo Klemettinen explains how poetry for children becomes songs. He favours poems that tell a story, awaken feelings and speak to the imagination. Usually the mood, style and central musical features of the song appear already when reading the poem for the first time. Klemettinen underlines that a child audience must not be under- or over-estimated. Most important is to be honest and genuinely interested.

Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen has interviewed the Institute’s new director Kaisa Laaksonen. Already as a student, Laaksonen became interested in children’s literature and she has work experience from both research and publishing. Her doctoral dissertation under work deals with the image of the child in 21st century picturebooks. In terms of her new job, Laaksonen trusts the power of co-operation.

Emma Kaukiainen analyses father-son-relations in the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016). She also assesses the latest Potter movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016). Aino-Maria Kangas presents the Institute’s new services, the directory of experts and the materials archive for teachers.
In the news section we learn e.g. that the new Runeberg Junior Award has been given to two books: Paten kalastuskirja by Timo Parvela & Pasi Pitkänen and Den fantastiske Alfredo by Malin Klingenberg & Joanna Vikström Eklöv.

Translation Maria Lassén-Seger