There has been a big change in literacy: those who read more, are more in tune than ever before. Those who don't read, are less involved. Literacy has become a driver of inequality.

According to PISA studies, Finnish pupils' reading skills have deteriorated in recent years. According to the 2018 survey, 13.5% of pupils had low reading skills, compared to 8.1% in 2009. Interest in reading has plummeted, especially among boys, 63% of whom said they only read if they have to. The corresponding figure for girls is 39%.

Degradation of literacy will be intervened next week, when the Read Hour campaign launches for the fourth time. The main event will take place on UN International Literacy Day on 8 September from 19-20, when each and every one of us will be invited to stop and read for an hour.

"I hope as many people as possible will find time to read. From reading aloud sessions in infancy, through the discovery and development of one's own literacy skills, to the well-rounded literacy of adulthood, reading needs to grow. Good reading skills require constant maintenance. 60% of Finnish adults think they read too little, and there are already almost half a million poor readers in Finland," says Donald Duck editor-in-chief Aki Hyyppä.

Sanoma supports the Read Hour campaign and celebrates the UN Literacy Day by publishing content that encourages reading and by providing media space.

"Sanoma has been a partner for the Read Hour campaign from the beginning. Promoting literacy is an important part of our sustainability strategy and business: if reading skills deteriorate, it can also threaten trust towards media in the long run. For example, media literacy helps to identify disinformation and good literacy promotes equal learning opportunities. Our learning businesses promote literacy through learning materials every day and in our media business, for example Lasten uutiset (Childrens News) newspaper plays a role in strengthening literacy. According to our research, parents subscribe Donald Duck and Lasten uutiset (Children's News) to maintain their children's literacy and to foster a rich Finnish language," says Eveliina Nygren, Sustainability Manager at Sanoma.

Helsingin Sanomat's Lasten uutiset is participating in the Literacy Day with a wealth of content:

"Michael Monroe will publish a children's book called Makke ja Nupu on Literacy Day and we will take schoolchildren to talk to Monroe about literacy. We journalists of the Lasten Uutiset will also give tips of books which got us excited about reading as a child," says Fanny Fröman, Helsingin Sanomat's Lasten uutiset editor and shares her tips.

"One of my old favourites is Tomi Kontio's book Spring Daddy Got Wings, published in 2000. It is part of a three-part fantasy series about the mysterious land of Australasia. The lives of twin boys, Tomi and Timo, are changed when one morning a hole in their backyard leads to another world, into which their father, who has grown wings, disappears. I think Harry Potter fans in particular might also enjoy this book. The book was once awarded the Finlandia Junior Prize, among other prizes," says Fröman.

Donald Duck celebrates the reading festival with a reading package introducing the characters of Ankkalinna, available for all to read on the Donald Duck digital service app and on the website. In addition, Akkari, published during the Read Hour week, can be read free of charge in digital format on 8 September.

Supla, a provider of audio content, also participates in the Read Hour by promoting the Read Hour on its social media channels and encouraging people to take part in the reading lessons. Audiobooks are one way to develop literacy and encourage new audiences to read.

Sanoma Pro, a publisher of educational content, encourages teachers and their classes to participate in reading lessons and the Read Hour virtual event for schools. Literacy will also be discussed in the Waves of Learning podcast (in Finnish).

Sanoma will also support the Read Hour campaign by publishing campaign communications to inspire reading in the print newspapers Helsingin Sanomat, Ilta-Sanomat, Satakunta Kansa and Aamulehti, as well as digitally from 3 to 8 September.

For the second time, Sanoma staff will have the opportunity to read together during working hours. The reading room will be open at six locations in Finland: Helsinki, Vantaa, Tampere, Turku, Pori and Oulu. Remote participation is also possible. The offices will also have a book exchange market open on Reading Day, where you can bring your favourite book and grab a book recommended by a colleague. Sanoma also has its own book circle open to all staff.

This autumn, the Read Hour campaign organised by the Children and Youth Foundation will be held in Finland, the UK, Sweden, Norway and Estonia. The campaign aims to encourage children and young people in particular to explore the world of stories and texts.

This year's Read Hour will include reading and listening to works that convey a message of peace and friendship.