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Story | 08/25/2020 10:11:33

Read Hour challenges Finnish young people to read

Only one in four young people consider reading cool. Encouragement is needed, such as the Read Hour campaign to raise the topic of the declining reading, especially among young people.

The Children and Youth Foundation is organising Finland's largest literacy campaign, Read Hour, for the second time. This year, the main partners in the campaign are UPM, Moomin Characters and Pikkujätti Medical centre for children and youth. Municipalities and cities have been challenged to join. Third sector organisations and a large number of media companies are also involved.

The Read Hour campaign spreads from 31 August to 8 September. It will culminate on UN Literacy Day on 8 September at 14:00 for a reading hour throughout Finland.

Finns read still but skills are fading

“We are still one of the nations where people read a lot, but the latest PISA survey again raised concerns. As many as one in eight young people graduate from primary school without adequate reading skills and over 60 per cent of boys said they only read if forced. The result has deteriorated from the previous measurement,” notes Olli Alanen, Executive Director of the Children and Youth Foundation.

The Children and Youth Foundation asked 1,500 young people about their reading habits to support the preparation of the campaign. The views on reading vary a lot. Only a quarter of respondents considered reading cool. They also said they would read more if they found more interesting topics to read.

“Fortunately, about half of the young people who responded to our survey thought reading was useful and more than a third thought it was a good pastime. We hope that the Read Hour campaign will strengthen these notions,” says Alanen.

Reading promotes personal development and learning

Research shows that everyday literacy plays a major role in the information society. Poor literacy can limit young people’s lives and make it difficult to succeed in studies and working life. Good literacy strengthens social identity and social equality.

Fluent literary skills are needed in all occupational groups. In today’s work life, everybody needs to continuously learn new things. There are new ways of working, new machinery and new standards. If reading is slow or inconvenient, it is difficult to develop one’s competencies.

UPM is concerned about young people’s reading skills, and wants to increase awareness of the importance of reading and lifelong learning. Pictures and videos play an important part in the lives of young people today, but in the workplace the ability to understand texts and write down your ideas is a valuable skill.

Words matter project by the Finnish Reading Centre and UPM was an inspiration

Antti Hermonen, General Manager of UPM Jämsä River Mills, emphasises also the connection between literacy and professional skills. “Even in this impatient world of smartphones, we still need to read long texts such as technical documentation and instructions. We also need to be able to concentrate. For example, there are periods during shifts where nothing happens, but you still need to keep yourself alert.”

“When you read, you learn to be more open-minded. By reading different texts, you not only learn how to criticise sources, but also new information. Reading also encourages a thirst for knowledge. Keeping yourself up to date and curious helps you connect with the world, meaning that you can avoid marginalisation," says Hermonen.

Read Hour campaign between 31 August and 8 September

The partners and many cities and municipalities will organise various events during the campaign. National and local media will take part by publishing their own marketing content. In addition to website and events, the campaign is also very visible on the social media channels where you can share photos of your own reading hour.

UPM volunteers will lead a discussion about their meaningful books in virtual lessons in secondary schools all over Finland. We also actively communicate the campaign to our own personnel and organise a live-streamed discussion about Finnish crime novels, for example. UPM’s own nationwide book club is also under planning.

Read Hour is part of UPM's Biofore Share and Care programme. The programme focuses on projects that are relevant to both UPM's business and responsibility goals. The focus areas are: Reading & Learning, Engaging with communities, Responsible water use and Boosting bioinnovations.

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