Environmental issues are becoming mainstream also in children’s literature. Mia Rönkä, specializing in environmental ecology, has looked at the latest children’s books in Finnish dealing with climate change and environmental protection. The supply is diverse but lacking in reading matter for the very youngest. Rönkä wishes that books dealing with environmental issues would use more graphic photos along with drawn illustrations. Also, she confirms that raising environmental awareness must not arouse anxiety among children.
Tuula Korolainen presents retellings for young readers of Aleksis Kivi’s (1834-1872) novel Seven Brothers. This insurmountable Finnish classic was published 150 years ago, in 1870. The first version for children emerged already in 1891, although the illustrated adaption from 1938 was the first one to truly speak to young readers. Today, children and even many adults know the novel mainly through Mauri and Tarja Kunnas’ canine version The Seven Dog Brothers, translated by William Moore in 2003.
Markku Soikkeli explores the remarkably wide range of genres within young adult fiction today. He considers its wide readership and thereby the challenges for e.g. the market. Today, many YA-novels have street credibility among 12- as well as 34-year-old readers. YA fiction is also increasingly often used at school, since shorter texts suit young people with shorter attention spans.
The supply of Finnish books written in plain language (“selkokieli”) has lately increased in order to meet a growing demand. Most of these books are addressed to children and teenagers, although anyone learning a new language (e.g. immigrants) or beginning to read can benefit from them. Knowledge about such books ought, therefore, to reach also educators within vocational training. Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen has interviewed three writers of books in plain language, who believe they increase equality among readers. Nowadays, there are plain language versions of fantasy, crime and horror fiction. Regrettably often, however, the cover pictures and illustrations underrate readers. Thus, there is a need for research on literature in plain language, as well as training for those who illustrate these books.
In the Lukutikku-column aimed at teachers, Johanna Lähteelä and Juli-Anna Aerila demonstrate the pedagogical possibilities of wordless or silent books within teaching. In the Kompassi-column, Irene Piippola reports that in addition to original Sami children’s literature, more Sami translations of favourite children’s books, tv-series and animations in the dominant language are made than ever before. For example, the Sami translation Mumenvággi of the newly animated Moomin-series based on Tove Jansson’s Moomin-books has been enthusiastically received.
The appendix at the end of Onnimanni includes current information about library work with children and teenagers, new projects and best practices, as well as Sweden’s plan of action to improve their PISA-results. The material for the bilingual appendix is produced by Seinäjoki-based Erte/Lubu, which is responsible for improving library services nationwide to support reading among young people. The project is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Education.
The autumn issue of Onnimanni is distributed to all Finnish public libraries.
Translation Maria Lassén-Seger