A Book Gift Programme Has Been Included in the Finnish Government Programme
A Book Bag to Every Baby Born is the first nationwide book gift programme in Finland to reach the whole age group. The project was funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation in 2019-2021 and has continued since then funds from the Finnish Parliament.
Regular reading aloud boosts children’s vocabulary, supports their emotional development and has a major influence on their future literacy and school performance. Reading aloud is one of the key factors in creating equality between children and families, regardless of their social or economic background. Early childhood experiences also have a strong influence on later reading habits.
”A book bag distributed at the maternity and child health clinic has been proven to be an effective way to increase reading among families with babies. A book gift given to everyone creates equal opportunities for reading. It is great that the Finnish Government recognises the importance of reading aloud”, says Emmi Jäkkö, Director of the Finnish Reading Center.
Research shows the benefits of regular reading aloud, and the programme has increased early reading from babyhood. Of the families who received the book bag and responded to a survey, 63% said that the book bag had increased family reading; 27% said they started reading after receiving the book bag and 36% said they now read more than before. Those families who started reading thanks to the book bag reported that reading has become part of their daily life; up to 77% of families said they now read at least once a day.
In the Book Bag for Every Baby Born programme, book bags are distributed to baby families during their check-ups at the maternity and child health clinic. The contents of the book bags have been developed in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of experts. Children’s authors, illustrators, researchers, librarians, a social worker and an expert from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare have been involved in the preparation. The programme is implemented by the Finnish Reading Center.