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


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. 


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.


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”

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.


, 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


Save the Date: Annual General Meeting 2022

On May 4th and May 5th, our Annual General Meeting will take place in Brussels.

The meeting location will be the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union, in Brussels.

We hope to finally meet in real life again, and bring together our members from all over Europe. We will be holding 2 days of plenary sessions on sharing experience and best practices to develop strategies for the promotion of literacy and reading across Europe.

More information will follow. If you are interested in participating, please use the contact form.