EUROPEAN LEADERS CALLED ON TO RECOGNISE THE ABILITY TO READ AS ESSENTIAL FOR THE PROTECTION OF DEMOCRACY

EURead, a coalition of the continent’s most influential organisations committed to reading and literacy, called on Europe’s leaders to recognise the ability to read as a fundamental human right and as essential to the protection of democracy. 

The six-point Statement on Reading and Literacy draws on extensive evidence which shows the widespread impact of being able to read and reading regularly on the ability of individual citizen’s to fulfil their potential, participate in society and identify fake news. The statement also calls for further investment in book gifting programmes for families with young children, school and public libraries and in reading promotion as being essential for the development of critically literate citizens.

The statement was announced at the EURead Annual General Meeting in Athens where 21 organisations from over 15 countries participated from across the continent which was followed by an open forum on “Literacy and Democracy in the Era of Technology and Information: Facts, Challenges, Strategies,” organized in light of the EU elections. Guest speakers at the AGM and forum included Katarina Barley, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills, OECD, Andrew Kay, CEO of World Literacy Foundation, Prof. Adriaan van der Weel of Leiden University, Prof. Venetia Apostolidou of Aristotle University, Thessaloniki and Marc Lambert CEO of Scottish Book Trust.

In launching the Statement on Reading and Literacy, Dr Jörg F. Maas, Chair of EU Read, said:

“The contribution of reading to the defence of democracy and the functioning of society in so many different ways is grossly underestimated. Ensuring that the citizens of Europe can not only read, but can read critically and love reading is fundamental to sustaining European values for future generations. Governments at regional, national and pan-European level must take action but so must a wide range of other social actors. Reading is not just an issue for ministries of education and culture but for everyone who cares about the future of Europe. We must come together to protect our way of life.”   

We, the EURead members, call on all politicians at both the national and EU levels to support reading and literacy by rethinking their importance for the well-being of all citizens and the preservation of our vibrant and robust democratic societies.

EURead Statement on Reading and Literacy

We, the member organisations of EURead representing 34 state, NGO and publishing bodies from 23 countries across the continent call on European leaders at regional, national and supranational level to recognise the foundational role that reading plays in the development of individual citizens, in the operation of a thriving economy and in helping to ensure the functioning of modern democracies.

We are specifically calling for recognition of and action on the following principles.

  1. The ability to read and to read critically is essential to personal development and a fundamental human right.

It is widely evidenced that reading regularly for pleasure improves mental health and well-being, correlates with achievement across the curriculum, improves social mobility and enables participation in society. PISA defines reading as “understanding, using, reflecting on, and engaging with written texts in order to achieve one’s goals, develop one’s knowledge and potential, and participate in society.” Because of its widespread impact on individuals’ lives, learning to read and to love reading is a fundamental right.

2. The ability to read underpins the functioning of our society in many dimensions and, as such, is everyone’s concern.

Having citizens who can read to the best of their ability can improve economic performance, enable better health outcomes, enhance social mobility and improve social cohesion. Making sure that the citizens of Europe are regular readers is a matter of concern for a wide variety of state and non-state actors outside the confines of the education and culture sectors. This includes organisations active in the business and commercial world, healthcare and regional development sectors amongst others.

3. Having citizens who can read critically is essential if we are to protect our democracies.

In an era of disinformation, the ability to interpret information and assess the credibility of statements is essential to the functioning of modern democracies. The promotion of high levels of critical literacy should be a priority for governments and for EU members should form part of the Defence of Democracy package.

4. Reading needs to be part of family life from a child’s earliest days and governments should further invest in Early Years book gifting programmes.

There is widespread scientific evidence of the importance of the first 1000 days for a child’s development and further evidence of the critical role that reading with young children can play in language acquisition and emotional attachment with their parent or carer. We know that children who are read to when young are more likely to go on to read themselves later. We believe that no child should miss out on the opportunity this presents and that government should further invest in well-evidenced book gifting programmes. Book gifting programmes should form part of the European Child Guarantee.

5. Access to a wide range of books, for example through kindergartens, school libraries and through libraries in the community, staffed by skilled librarians, is essential to fostering a love of reading and needs financial support.

Every citizen of a European country from birth onwards would benefit from access to diverse reading materials of all kinds and in different formats as this helps the acquisition and maintenance of regular reading habits. Having school and community libraries, staffed by information professionals who can help people discover books they will love, is a critical part of our reading infrastructure.

6. Reading promotion by a wide range of players needs to be supported. 

People need encouragement to read, and this is particularly true for those who have the most to gain from reading regularly. Reading promotion programmes which draw on the expertise of the state and NGOs as well as the intellectual capital of authors, illustrators, publishers and booksellers require sustained investment over time in order to effect changes in behaviour. Whilst these actors may lead on promotional activity, it is the responsibility of every element of society to signal that reading is something which is highly valued.

EURead Members

Anne Çocuk Eğitim Vakfı – ACEV, Asociación Artística Sociocultural Mestiza, Bonniers Familjestiftelse, BookTrust, Children’s Books Ireland, Detski Knigi Foundation, Diavazontas Megalono, Federation of European Publishers, Foreningen !les, Good Books, Hungarian Reading Association, Idereen Leest Flanders, Kitabistan, Libranda, LitCam, Lubimyczytać.pl, Lukukeskus Läscentrum Martynas, Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, Medienzentrum Ostbelgien, Nati per Leggere, National Literacy Agency Malta, Österreichisches Bibliothekswerk, Plano Nacional de Leitura, Reading Foundation (Chetene) – Bulgaria, Schweizerisches Institut für Kinder- und Jugendmedien, Scottish Book Trust, Stichting Lezen, Stiftung Lesen, Svet Knihy, The Polish Book Institute, Turkish Publishers Association, Ukrainian Book Institute, Universal Reading Foundation Poland, Was steht da?

Open Forum “Literacy and Democracy in the Era of Technology and Information: facts, challenges, strategies”

In our modern era, we face daunting challenges: misinformation runs rampant across Europe and beyond, significantly impacting our national interests. While social media saturates our lives, particularly captivating our youth, literacy rates decline. Additionally, the rise of Artificial Intelligence raises profound concerns, especially in education and the arts. Global crises dominate our attention, shaping public discourse.

As we confront these obstacles, safeguarding democratic principles is paramount. What strategic investments must society make to foster economic growth, achieve sustainable development goals, and safeguard cultural heritage? Amidst these deliberations, how does literacy contribute to shaping our collective future?

In the light of the 2024 European Parliament elections it is even more important to tackle these issue. Therefore, EURead, Diavazontas Megalono and Goethe-Institut Athen are inviting you to an open forum, which will be held on the 4th of June, 2024, at the premises of Goethe-Institut Athen (14-16 Omirou str., Athens, Greece).

Speakers and topics

‘To understand the full significance of reading, it is not enough to approach it functionally and ask, ‘What do we do with reading?’ We must also ask the reverse question, ‘What does reading do to us?’ For reading and writing are more than just functional skills: they are intellectual achievements that change the very way our brains are able to think’. Prof. Adriaan van der Weel will address these questions in his speech, ‘Reading to Think: The Ljubljana Manifesto on Higher-Level Reading,’ beginning a discussion on how we can safeguard this achievement and support our vulnerable democracies.

Prof. Venetia Apostolidou will share insights based on research and experience, which show that many children who used to read books systematically fail to progress to the next level of reading more complex texts, whether informational or literary, once they leave children’s books behind. In her presentation, ‘The Critical Transition from Childhood to Adolescence for the Development of Higher-Level Reading Competencies: Findings and Suggestions,’ she will explore the causes related to the role of education, the media, and teenage literature.

Though it is self-evident that literacy, from basic decoding to the higher order skills of critical literacy, is essential to modern participatory democracy, yet illiteracy rates across Europe and the British Isles have remained roughly the same at around twenty percent of the population. In this sense, tracking variations in PISA results, and obsessing, as politicians and the media do, over national league tables, is to pay attention to an illusion, because there is a persistent underlying correlation between poverty rates, rates of illiteracy, and poor educational attainment. Marc Lambert will argue that this makes the task of reading promoters complex, as we must address not a single, easily comprehensible issue, but rather the intersection of socio-economics, education, culture, and productivity.

If you believe in the importance of reading and literacy in shaping robust democracies and are seeking solutions and constructive dialogue among different key stakeholders, you are most welcome to join us.

The forum will be moderated by Prof. Maria Stratigaki.

Free entrance | Simultaneous English-Greek interpretation provided

About the speakers and the moderator

Prof. Venetia Apostolidou

Professor of Modern Greek Literature and Literary Education

School of Primary Education, Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki

Director of the Centre for Reading and Writing in School and Society  

Venetia Apostolidou is a Professor of Modern Greek Literature and Literary Education at the School of Primary Education of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. She is the Director of the Centre of Reading and Writing in School and Society. Her research interests focus on the fields of the history of Modern Greek criticism, post-war prose and literary education. Her latest book Literature at the University. The construction of Modern Greek Philology (1942-1982), Polis publications 2022, was awarded the Ourani prize of the Academy of Athens.

Prof. Adriaan van der Weel

Emeritus extraordinary professor of Book Studies

University of Leiden

The Netherlands

Adriaan van der Weel is emeritus extraordinary professor of Book Studies, University of Leiden, the Netherlands. His research focuses on the screen revolution in textual communication and reading. As vice-chair of the COST Action ‘E-READ’, about the future of reading in the digital age, Van der Weel was co-author of the ‘Stavanger Declaration Concerning the Future of Reading’ (2019) and the ‘Ljubljana Manifesto on Higher Level Reading’ (2023). His latest book, co-authored with Ruud Hisgen, is entitled The reading human: How the book defines our existence (2022; in Dutch).

Marc Lambert

CEO

Scottish Book Trust

United Kingdom

Marc Lambert graduated from Edinburgh University in 1986 with an MA Hons degree in History. He has worked for Waterstone and Co. as a main fiction buyer, and for Penguin Books in Italy and the UK. After four years of writing about and interpreting contemporary art at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, he joined The Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2000, becoming Assistant Director. In 2002 he was appointed CEO of Scottish Book Trust. Since then he has grown the Trust from a small organisation of three people into a national charity with 70+ staff, winning 10 Arts & Business and Business in the Community awards. A Trustee of Literature Alliance Scotland and the Netherbow Trust he chaired the Scottish Government English Excellence Group, and was a member of the Scottish Government’s Standing Literacy Commission. He has written widely both on the visual arts, and on book and literacy related subjects. 

Moderator

Prof. Maria Stratigaki 

Professor Emeritus at the Department of Social Policy of Panteion University

Deputy Mayor for Social Solidarity, and Equality in the City of Athens 

Maria Stratigaki is Deputy Mayor for Social Solidarity, and Equality in the City of Athens since 1st January 2024. She has served at the same position from 2014 to 2019. She is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Social Policy of Panteion University. She served as General Secretary for Gender Equality (2009-2012) and worked at the European Commission (1991-1999). Her research interests are gender equality policies, gender-based violence and gender in migration She was scientific coordinator of EU funded FP7 research projects on Gender and Gender Equality Policies. She has published in Social Politics, the European Journal of Women’s Studies and Femina Politica. She is the author of the books: The Gender of Social Policy (2007) and Gender Equality Policies: UN, EU, Greece (2021). She is a founding member of the first European Feminist Think Tank Gender 5+. 

Under the auspices and with the support of

Under the auspices

With the support of Greek Collecting Society for Literary Works

Media Sponsors

Annual General Meeting 2024: Promoting literacy in a changing world

Modern society is facing big challenges: all over Europe (and beyond), people are worried about misinformation and the impact it has on nations.

Social media is by now ever-present in our daily lives, and the group of (even young) children using them keeps growing. Meanwhile, their reading skills decline. The development of Artificial Intelligence is reaching a momentum that is being followed closely (and with fear?) in the fields of education and the creative sector. World crises dominate mainstream media.

In this context, it seems even more essential for reading promoters to fight illiteracy and to promote reading skills in general. We see a clear correlation between declining reading skills in society and the aforementioned problems. But how do we get that message across to parents, teachers, and our financial partners and promoters? How can we raise awareness of these issues at local, national, and European levels? What is our responsibility, and what is our response?

The AGM 2024 will be held on the 3rd and 4th of June, 2024, in Athens (Greece).

Location: Premises of Goethe-Institut Athens, 14-16 Omirou str., Athens, Greece.

AGENDA

3rd June, 2024

12.30 – 13.00 Registration

13.00 – 13.20 Welcome notes by the special guests Bettina Wenzel – Goethe-Institut Athen, Ava Chalkiadaki – Diavazontas Megalono, Katarina Barley – vice-president of the European Parliament (video) and Andrew Kay – CEO World Literacy Foundation (video).

13.20 – 13.30 Official opening by Dr. Jörg F. Maas, Chair of EURead | Stiftung Lesen

13.30 – 14.25 Strategic Vision and EURead Statement on Reading and Literacy. Discussion for further actions on strategy and advocacy

14.25 – 15.05 Welcome new members from Poland, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Bulgaria

15.05 – 15.35 Reading promotion in Greece: the deficits of public reading policies and the leading role of the civil society (Speaker: Ava Chalkiadaki, Diavazontas Megalono (Greece)

15.35 – 16.00 Coffee Break

16.00 – 16.40 Reading To Change Our Minds: Keynote speaker Prof. Adriaan van der Weel, Leiden University, The Netherlands

16.40 – 17.50 Let’s Talk About… Early Literacy

  • Update from the Global Network for Early Years Bookgifting (Peter Jenkins, Global Network Manager | BookTrust United Kingdom)
  • Bookgifting Toolkit: Process and Motivation (Emmi Jäkkö, Lukukeskus – The Finnish Reading Center – Finland)
  • Pilot reading promotion intervention in Primary Healthcare in Greece. First observations (Evanthia Sakellari, Diavazontas Megalono – Greece)
  • BookStart Spain: reading promotion, culture and more (Ana Molina, Asociación Artística-Sociocultural Mestiza – Spain)
  • Q&A session Global Network topics
  • The Impact of Networking: Can EURead learn from Global Network and vice versa? How can we be more impactful? Discussion, moderated by Daan Beeke – Network Manager EURead | Stichting Lezen

17.50 – 18.00 Reflections on Day 1

20.00 – 22.00 Official Dinner

Speech by Eleni Geroulanou – writer, educator, founder of Library4all and the Hellenic Children’s Museum in Athens, member of the Greek section of IBBY and an honorary member of Diavazontas Megalono

————-

4h June, 2024

8.30 – 09.00 Coffee

9.00 – 09.30 Warm-up with Evi Andrianou

9.30 – 12.30 General Assembly – Members Only! Finances, Legal Matters, Reports from the EURead Teams etc.

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch (Street Food Challenge)

13.30 – 14.25 Let’s Talk About… New Media

  • Fakeless – Exhibition on media literacy – Nikoletta Stathopoulou, Head of Information & Library, Goethe-Institut Athen (Greece)
  • Innovative Approaches to Digital Reading in Education – Sonja Hoge, Managing Director of Onilo, Germany
  • Q&A New Media

14.25 – 14.35 Coffee Break

14.35 – 15.35 Let’s Talk About… Reading Promotion and Politics

  • Good Practices in the field of reading promotion and politics

15.35 – 15.45 Reflections on the AGM 2024

———–

18.00 – 20.30 Open Forum “Literacy and democracy in the era of technology and information: facts, challenges, strategies”

Empowering European Literacy: Insights from the Second Day of European Authors Conference

The 2024 Day of European Authors, initiated by the European Commission, took place on March 25, 2024. Teachers, librarians, students and book lovers from across Europe came together to celebrate the crucial role of writers, poets, translators, and illustrators in shaping the cultural diversity and richness of European literature.

Screenshot from the website of the European Commission – Day of European Authors

Among the various activities, the European Commission organised a conference in Leuven, Belgium, bringing together key stakeholders in culture, education, reading, and literacy to discuss potential solutions to the declining reading skills among European citizens.

The conference commenced with opening remarks by Ms Iliana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, who said that “1 in 4 fifteen-year-olds don’t have the appropriate reading skills in the European Union”.

During the first panel, moderated by Elaina Ryan (CEO Children’s Books Ireland), panelists Dr. Dirk Hastedt (Executive Director, International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievements (IEA) and Dr. Tiziana Mascia (Adjunct Professor of Children’s Literature at the University of Urbino and Representative of the European Literacy Policy Network (ELINET) highlighted issues related to declining reading abilities based on assessment surveys like PIRLS and PISA, as well as the lack of motivation for reading among children.

“We talk about a lost generation to COVID but what about the lost generation from not reading?”, asked Dr. Hastedt.

Pledging for a common understanding and definition of what reading is, Valentina Stoeva (Chairperson of Reading Foundation Bulgaria and representative of EURead network) discussed the work of reading and literacy promoters. She underscored the critical role of families, kindergarten teachers, and librarians in both public and school libraries. Stoeva emphasized the need for support, based on research and carefully selected, high-quality books, to effect change in Europe’s reading landscape.

“Reading is a basic human right, and although it is not guaranteed by nature that individuals will be able to learn to read, we as a society must work on supporting everyone to become a reader, if we want to preserve the core democratic values and ensure that no one is left behind.” – said Valentina Stoeva.

The second panel, moderated by Daan Beeke (Domain Specialist at Stichting Lezen and Network Manager at EURead), delved into the importance of families, librarians, and reading promoters in shaping children’s interests from an early age, thereby preparing them for school and life. Presentations included the Flemish Reading Plan by Noa Heyndrickx (Literatuur Vlaanderen, Flanders, Belgium) and insights from Simon Bequoye (Iedereen Leest, Flanders, Belgium) on the significance of initiatives like BookStart and the role of libraries in providing access to books for families.

Benjamin Kesteloot (Director, Médiathèque départementale du Pas-de-Calais, France) and Laura Guindal Martínez (Deputy Director General for Coordination of Libraries at the Ministry of Culture, Spain) shared some insights of the projects they are developing in the field of reading. Special focus in this panel was put on Ukraine, with the keynote and thought provoking speech on the importance of “books as shelters for the mind” by Olena Odynoka (Deputy Director for International Cooperation, The Ukrainian Book Institute).

The third panel featured insights from three young individuals who shared their perspectives on reading and the curriculum.They highlighted the importance of encounters with authors and shared their personal experiences as avid readers, which often differ from the interests of their peers.

The second day of the conference saw fruitful discussions on various topics including the book sector, literary pedagogy, and promoting reading in the digital age. Key messages emerged, emphasizing:

  • The importance of early reading and shared reading for pleasure among parents and children, including the Early Years Bookgifting programmes.
  • The crucial role of reading promoters in supporting families, healthcare service employees, and educators with advice and books.
  • The significance of libraries, both public and school, and the need for support from national and local governments to ensure access to new books and knowledgeable librarians.
  • Closing the gender gap in reading by publishing stories that appeal to both boys and girls.

Looking ahead to the 2024 European Parliament elections, the conference participants expressed optimism about the positive impact of the event on the future of the European Union and Europe as a whole.

EURead members, participating in the Conference:

EURead members are participating in the conference for the second Day of European Authors

In the context of the second edition of the Day of European Authors (25th of March 2024) the European Commission organises a conference with the objective to foster collaboration between the book and the education sectors to tackle declining reading skills and habits among young people.

Elaina Ryan (Children’s Books Ireland), Daan Beeke (Stichting Lezen) and Valentina Stoeva (Children’s Books Foundation / Reading Foundation Bulgaria) will participate in the main panels of the conference, representing the EURead network and shedding light on the crucial role of reading promoters in tackling illiteracy.

The event will be opened by Iliana Ivanova – European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and Matthias De Moor ‐ General Representative of Flanders to the European Union.

More about the Conference and the Day of European Authors: https://culture.ec.europa.eu/event/2024-day-of-european-authors-conference

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