What happened in 2023? The EURead network’s review

A lot has happened for EURead in 2023.

We welcomed new members Libranda (Spain), Kitabistan (Azerbaijan), the Universal Reading Foundation (Poland) and the Reading Foundation (Bulgaria) and grew to 35 member organisations from 23 countries.  You can read about their good work at our newly launched website – the launch of it was another highlight of 2023. 

A big success was our Annual General Meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria. Our AGM is still at the core of our activities as a network, helping our members to learn from each other and be inspired. New to this AGM was a press conference, which served the purpose of raising awareness about the importance of reading in Bulgaria. 

But we did not only meet at our own main event: some EURead members are active contributors to the regularly held online meetings of the Global Network for Early Years Bookgifting. Please visit their website to learn more about those online meetings. 

Our members also participated in important events across Europe: EURead members organised, moderated and/or participated in presentations and panel discussions at events like the World Literacy Summit, the Bologna Bookfair, the Day of European Authors conference, the Literacy Conference in Riga and the Frankfurter Buchmesse

EURead also signed the Ljubljana Manifesto, and was represented at the launch in Ljubljana. 

And yet we should not only look back at what EURead did as a network, but what all EURead members did and are doing in their own countries. Please stay tuned and we will keep you updated about their and our own activities.

Because 2023 made it very clear that reading promotion is essential for healthy societies, and we need to keep up the good work, both at a national and at a European level. 

Day of European Authors: An Open letter to Commissioner Iliana Ivanova

European Commission

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

Commissioner Iliana Ivanova

15.11.2023

Dear Commissioner Ivanova,

First of all, I would like to congratulate you for becoming Commissioner for Education,
Youth, Sports and Culture – one of the key responsibilities to shape the Europe of tomorrow. We wish you and your team lots of success and a portion of fortune which is always needed for lasting and sustainable impact.

I am also writing today as CEO of the German Reading Foundation and Chair of EURead, the European network for reading promotion and literacy, representing 35 organisations and foundations from 23 countries across Europe to express our concern about the visibility and importance of the lack of reading competence and literacy in Europe.

More than 73 million adult Europeans cannot properly read and write.

More than one fourth of all children in Europe leave primary school without having the reading competencies they should obtain.

More than 4 out of 10 families do not read aloud to their children at home.

More than 23 percent of youth lack the reading competence they need to start in a successful life.

We as EURead members believe and are committed to change this: in each of our countries and across Europe for a better future of each child – but also for a better future of Europe.

Therefore, we have been quite euphoric about the European Commission’s decision last
year to initiate and celebrate the Day of European Authors – organized by the Creative Europe – Culture team. Various European networks have been invited to contribute ideas including libraries, booksellers, authors, translators and reading promotion and literacy organisations like EURead.

Despite the fact that we see value in bringing actors from different areas together, we felt a clear disappointment that the Creative Europe team expected us to contribute to the Day of European Authors but being unable to cover costs for important events, structures and occasions and campaigns.

We would have wished to see a clearer and measurable commitment from the European Commission to not only bring together authors from different countries and languages, but to put more efforts and financial commitments for reading promotion and literacy across Europe. Because without these important competencies, there will be shortly and in the near future no need to support authors, booksellers and libraries anymore when the diminishing demand and needs of young people for books and stories continues in the way it currently does.

We would like to encourage you and the European Commission to put a much stronger emphasis and financial support to reading promotion and literacy programs and campaigns.

The Day of European Authors is maybe one occasion to shed light on the need to invest more in reading and literacy. Europe needs far more initiatives and lasting commitment to overcome the devastating and alarming figures about the literacy rates of children, youths and adults in Europe.


Sincerely yours,

Dr. Joerg F. Maas

CEO of German Reading Foundation

Chair of EURead

EURead supports the Ljubljana Manifesto on Higher-Level Reading 

Issued on the 10th of October 2023 at a special press conference in the capital of Slovenia, the Ljubljana Manifesto on Higher Level Reading highlights the importance of book reading in the digital age.

Higher-level reading exercises metacognition and cognitive patience, expands our conceptual capacities, trains cognitive empathy and perspective-taking. These social skills are indispensable for informed citizens in a democratic society, the Manifesto emphasises. It calls for support of these skills from governments and society in general. 

The Ljubljana Manifesto was written by four reading and publishing researchers: André Schüller-Zwierlein, University of Regensburg, Germany; Anne Mangen, University of Stavanger, Norway; Adriaan van der Weel, Leiden University, Netherlands, and Miha Kovač, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The Manifesto is supported and signed by the German Academy of Language and Poetry, the International Publishers Association (IPA), the Federation of European Publishers (FEP), PEN International, the International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY), the members of the European literacy network EURead, and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). In Slovenia, the Manifesto is supported by the Slovenian Book Agency. 

The document will be published today by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), Le Monde (France; online edition), Público (Portugal), Népszava (Hungary), Latvijas Avīze (Latvia), Dennik (Slovakia) and Delo (Slovenia).

During the press conference at Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, the authors of the Manifesto, along with special guests, discussed the significance of higher-level reading in the digital era. They highlighted its role in training analytical and critical thinking, fostering cognitive patience, and nurturing empathy – vital social skills for citizens in a democratic society.

Among the speakers in the Agenda were: Assist. Prof. Asta Vrečko (Minister of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia), Jose Borginho (Secretary General of the International Publishers Association), Anne Bergmann-Tahon (Director of the European Publishers Association), Daan Beeke (Dutch Reading Foundation; EURead Network Manager), Prof. Adriaan van der Weel (Leiden University; co-author of the Manifesto) and Prof. Miha Kovač (University of Ljubljana; co-author of the Manifesto and curator of the Slovenian program at the Frankfurter Buchmesse).

From left to right: Jose Borginho, Daan Beeke, Anne Bergmann-Tahon, Adriaan van der Weel, Minister Asta Vrečko, Miha Kovač

In his speech, Daan Beeke pointed out that:

‘Members of EURead know that reading is the key to a better society. Reading, to us, is a basic right.’

He briefly discussed three important themes from the Manifesto: turning the tide of declining reading skills, reconsideration of the role of higher-level reading in the digital era and emphasizing the necessity of resilient readers who are well-versed in higher-level reading for a thriving democratic society.

Beeke reflected on these themes from the perspective of the reading promoters, who are members of the EURead network. He emphasised the importance of early bookgifting programs, which lay the foundation for higher-level reading later in life.

‘Higher-level reading at a later age, can only be achieved when we start with the very, very young.  And that means we need to bring books to babies and toddlers, and help their parents to let their child grow up in a language rich environment.’

By signing the Manifesto, EURead hopes to help raise awareness that the challenge we are facing is very urgent.

Information on the Manifesto and its professional background: https://readingmanifesto.org/

The Ljubljana Manifesto is one of the pillars of Slovenia’s Guest of Honour program at the Frankfurter Buchmesse. For information about the planned events, check here.

Bulgaria Hosts the 2023 Annual General Meeting of EURead

On June 5th and 6th, 2023, Sofia will host this year’s general meeting of EURead, the literacy network, which will take place outside Brussels for the first time. Under the motto ‘Literacy across Europe: Reading is the Key,’ the summit will bring together leading experts from 20 countries, specializing in literacy, reading promotion, education, publishing, and communications.

Among the featured speakers are members of the EURead Board, including Dr. Jörg F. Maas, Executive Director of the Reading Foundation (Germany), Diana Gerald, Chief Executive of Book Trust (England, Wales, Northern Ireland), Gerlien van Dalen, Executive Director of the Reading Foundation (The Netherlands) and others.

During the forum, participants will exchange experiences and present projects and initiatives for promoting reading at national and global levels.

The latest studies from OECD and research institutes have documented clearly, that reading competencies have never been as bad as nowadays. More than 70 million Europeans lack these basic skills and have therefore no access to education, training and the labour market. It is time to remind political leaders across Europe that there is no economic and intellectual future without literacy and reading promotion. The Annual General Meeting of EURead this year in Sofia will be another milestone to call for more political commitment, for more financial support and better programmes for literacy and education. – said Dr. Jörg F. Maas, Chair of EURead. 

The meetings will be opened by Boyko Blagoev, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria, Katarina Barley, Vice-President of the European Parliament, and Miroslav Borshosh, Deputy Mayor for “Culture, Education, Sports, and Youth Activities” of Sofia Municipality. The event will be held at the Information Center of the European Union and the American Center at the Stolichna Library in Sofia.

You can follow the event on LinkedIn and other social media by using the hashtags #EURead #EuropeReads #ReadingIsTheKey

Annual General Meeting 2023

On June 5th and June 6th, our Annual General Meeting will take place in Sofia, Bulgaria. Our member Detski Knigi Foundation is hosting this meeting. The venue will be the European Commission premises in Sofia.

Our member Detski Knigi Foundation is hosting this meeting. The venue will be the European Commission premises in Sofia.

Agenda: 


Monday
, June 5th

Location | European Commission Building (Sofia, 124 Georgi S. Rakovski str.)

9.30 – 10.00 Planned interviews

10.30 – 11.30 Press Conference

12.30 Registration

13.00 Welcome speeches by

Mr Boyko Blagoev, Head of Communication unit at Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria
Mr Miroslav Borshosh, deputy-mayor of Sofia
Katarina Barley, vice-president of the European Parliament /video/

13.30 Official opening, Dr. Jörg F. Maas, Chair of EURead

13.45 Panel 1 | Moderator: Dr. Jörg F. Maas, Chair of EURead
The State of Literacy in Europe: How can we do better? (A Brief Overview)
Speaker: Marc Lambert, The Scottish Book Trust

14.30 Coffee Break

14.45 Panel 2 | Moderator: Gerlien van Dalen, Co-Chair of EURead
Open Mic #1
The German National Reading Alliance and National Reading Plan (Jörg F. Maas)
Reading owns! initiative (Lovisa Fhager Logothetis)

15.15 Global Network Inspirational update
 Chaired online by Peter Jenkins, Book Trust (UK)

16.15 Panel 3 | Moderator: Elaina Ryan

Open Mic #2

Pilot reading promotion programme in 10 primary healthcare centers of Attica region (Ava Chalkiadaki)

16.30 EURead Membership Welcome certificates

17.00 End of day one

19.30 Dinner
Dinner speech by Manol Peykov – translator, publisher, member of Parliament and Man of The Year 2023

Tuesday, June 6th

Location | European Commission Building (Sofia, 124 Georgi S. Rakovski str.)

9.00 General Assembly: Legal Matters and Finances

10.00 Panel 4 | Moderator: Diana Gerald, Co-Chair EURead

Open Mic #3

Introducing the Austrian “Was steht da?” (Laura Albers)

10.15 Coffee Break

10.30 Insights about the state of literacy and reading in Bulgaria: preparation for implementing
the Read-Aloud Monitor

Speaker: Valentina Stoeva, Children’s Books Foundation (Bulgaria)

11.15 Panel 5 | Moderator: Emmi Jäkkö
Open Mic #4

How to promote reading with teenagers and young adults (Anne Bergman-Tahon)

Men’s & boy’s reading – problems and approaches to dealing with low readership rates among these groups (Marcin Skrabka)

11.30 Update on the new website implementation / Discussing common network communication strategies

Speakers: Daan Beeke and Marc Lambert (website); Emmi Jäkkö (communication)

12.30 Lunch (Ugo Pizza, 2 Han Krum str.)

Location | Sofia City Library – American Corner 4A, Petko Slaveykov square, fl. 1

13.30 Panel 6 | Moderator: Dr. Jörg F. Maas, Chair of EURead
Reviving Europe Reads

Speakers: Daan Beeke, Valentina Stoeva

14.15 Funding from EU / EU projects

Representatives from Creative Europe Desk

15.00 Where to next? Feedback from the AGM in Sofia

15.30 Closing of the AGM

16.00 End of day two

Full agenda: EURead_AGM2023_agenda

Contact: daan.beeke@euread.com