The Ljublaja Reading Manifesto Is a Common European Appeal For Reading
Societies are facing fundamental changes. The digital environment is changing the way we live, interact, work, study and read. There has not yet been enough research on the social and cultural impact of digitalisation on literacy skills and practices.
The key themes of the Ljubljana Manifesto on Higher Level Reading are 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. It calls for support of these skills from governments and society in general.
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.
‘Reading is the key to a better society. Reading, to us, is a basic right’, says Dan Beeke, network manager of EURead.
One concrete way to increase long-term reading is to support reading in families from the very beginning. Early reading moments lay the foundations 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’, Beeke says.
“The Finnish Reading Centre works as a united front with other European literacy actors. In a digital environment, we need to become more and more literate. To achieve this, we need broad, joint measures in all sectors of society,” says Emmi Jäkkö, director of the Finnish Reading Center.
More Information And Research Is Needed
Although digital technology offers many opportunities for new forms of reading, recent empirical studies show that the digital environment has a negative impact on reading, especially on long-term reading and reading comprehension. It is also unclear whether the shift to digital media has really delivered on its promise of improving learning outcomes.
Various recent studies show that key higher-level reading skills and practices, such as critical and conscious reading, slow reading, non-strategic reading and long-form reading, have declined. Current educational policy, meanwhile, relies heavily on monocultural standardized testing of basic reading capabilities and on growing use of digital technologies.
Reading education, assessment, research and policy-making should focus more on higher-level reading practices in both adults and children in order to understand the development of reading skills and practices in an age increasingly dependent on a ubiquitous digital infrastructure.
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.
EURead is a Europe-wide literacy network of which the Finnish Reading Center is a member. EURead member organisations have signed the Ljubljana Reading Manifesto together with PEN International and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), among others.
Read the manifesto i full: The Ljubljana Reading Manifesto: Why higher-level reading is important