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Children's Reading Habits in a Nordic perspective

Although we had a tight schedule,
luckily there was time for the
more informal
with my charming colleagues
For the past two days I have been in Stockholm and meet with the secretarie generals of the Nordic library organizations. We talked, among other things, about reading strategy.

I had made a small presentation about the Danish work on National Reading Strategy, which I would like to share here.
  • The daily life, culture- and media consumption of our children, has been radically transformed through the introduction of digital devices and services. Reading is no longer limited to physical books and other printed media, and is increasingly performed online via blogs, computer games, and social media.
  • The role of the public library as a cornerstone in children's reading habits is also changing. But reading is as important as ever. So how do we create a strong culture of reading in this vast array of new settings for reading?
That's the reason whyThe Danish Think Tank 'Libraries of the Future' has - in collaboration with the two national knowledge centres: Lærermiddel.dk and National Centre for Reading - produced one of the largest studies of 9.000 children's reading habits ever performed in Denmark: Children's Reading Habits 2017 - see more about it here

Children are spending less time on reading in their spare time
The number of children reading several times per week is decreasing from 61% in 2010 to 56% in 2017.
The decline is greatest among girls (from 68% to 59%) and in 5th grade.

Children read in school and not at home
Children perceive reading as a school activity.
The experience of reading in school has an impact on how much children are reading outside of school.

Reading is difficult
57% of the children read only because their parents tell them to.
Children find it difficult to read longer texts.

What do children read?
70% of all children read text messages every day on a digital device.
79% of all children never read an e-book.
28% read printed novels, and Fantasy is the top genre.

Who inspires children to read?
Children are inspired to read by their friends, movies and their mother.
The public library gets the lowest rank as a source of inspiration.

Children are mostly spending time on screens
49% of the children in 7th grade use 1-3 hours/day on streaming services.
35% of the boys use minimum 4 hours/day on digital gaming.
19% of the girls use minimum 4 hours/day on social media.

Denmarks result in PIRLS 2016
Compare to the Nordic countries ara Denmark the lowest average reading level. Among the 50 countries that participated in the survey, Denmark occupies a 13th place with 11 other countries. Finland ranks number five and remains the best performing Nordic country

The study also shows that among the group of weak readers in Denmark has grown larger since 2011, and Denmark is the Nordic country that has the fewest really capable readers.

They don’t like reading.
High levels of confidence, but low levels of reading enjoyment are reported in many of the high-performing countries in PIRLS 2016. This relationship is strong in many of the Nordic countries, and particularly in Sweden, Norwey and Denmark, with the most confident readers of any country, though also the fewest pupils who like reading.

It is remarkable that we in the  Scandinavian countries have so little reading pleasure among our children. We therefore have a major common challenge in Norway, Sweden and Denmark in changing the development, so that our children again want to read in their spare time.
Finland - Joy of Reading 
Maybe the other Nordic countries could learn from Finland. Moreover, although Finland has consistently been a high achiever in international assessments, the Ministry of Education and Culture funded a three-year national program called Joy of Reading (2013–2015) with the aim to support the development of reading comprehension in children and enhance their joy of reading (Lukuinto, 2015).

The Joy of Reading Handbook describes the program philosophy, which particularly emphasises collaboration between schools, libraries and parents to strengthen pupils’ reading development.

The Danish Action Area: Parents as target groupParents (especially mum) play an important role in childrens reading habits so we need to work with the parents as target groups instead of the children!

Many parent don’t know what to do and what to present for their children – especially e-books and audio books.We need to tell them, show them and guide them. But parents are different with different conditions and abilities.


The school as a new arena & a new reading concept
The role of the profesionnals are very important (both teachers and librarians)

Good reading experiences in school improves childrens perception of reading.

Children are spending most of their time with school professionels &  when children get older they dont go the public library (6 th grade). An instrumental view of reading in schools (grades, tests)
The libraries need to see The school as a Touch Point with new perception of reading (more aspects and interdisciplinary) and new arenas for being public library


Availability
Availability – both printed and digital – is a pre-condition for reading
and reading for all.  There is a difference in ”being available” and ”experienced availabiblity”

What are the arenas of reading?
Children sometimes meet books at home, but not all families read books at home.

Many children in DK do not visit the library – but all children go to school & children do perceive reading as a school activity.

The inspiration must also be on-line!

See more of reading digital here


Bridging digital and analogue reading (a change of culture)
Childrens spare time are digital and also social. 

Children do not really distinguish between digital and analogue.


But they do no read e-books/audiobooks (the same with their parents teachers & library professionals)

We have to explore ”the digital”, leave our own preferences behind

and focus on the interest of the children:

”It is OK to read a book on a cell-phone”

Look at the touch points - from a movie to reading a book

Digital precence – also in the communication. Digital qualities – and say it out loud

Se more about the Danish Reading strategy here or see my presentation (part of it in Danish)


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