Creative reading for students’ engagement with literary texts
Ieva Margeviča-Grinberga (University of Latvia)

In recent years, there has been growing concern regarding students’ declining comprehension of texts, lack of motivation to read, and decreased engagement with literary works. This tendency has been attributed to various factors, including the rise in the use of digital media, the inability to concentrate for a long time, and a lack of emphasis on reading in educational settings. Creative reading is proposed as one approach to stimulate students’ interest in literary texts and promote meaningful engagement.
This study examines the relevance of creative reading to promote students’ engagement with literary text. The study aims to investigate the impact of creative reading strategies on students’ interest in literary texts and their comprehension.
The author raises a research question: how does creative reading promote students’ engagement with literary texts?
A mixed methods approach was used to address the research question:
1. A literature review was conducted to gain insight into existing theories and practices related to creative reading and its potential benefits.
2. A sample of students was surveyed to obtain quantitative data on their attitudes toward and benefits from using creative reading methods.
3. Qualitative data were obtained through in-depth interviews with participants to understand their experiences and perspectives on creative reading.
The study’s results revealed that including creative reading strategies significantly increased students’ engagement with the literary text. Participants reported higher motivation levels, better comprehension, and greater satisfaction when using creative reading methods. Qualitative data highlighted the importance of creativity in promoting students’ emotional connection with the literary text and personal contribution to the interpretation of literary texts.
[Presentation .pdf]

Reading Nest – A shared project of Estonia, Finland and Latvia for developing the pedagogy of reading environments
Meeli Pandis (Tallinna Kunstigümnaasium, Estonia)
Co-presenters: Maria Jürimäe, Kadi Lukanenok (Estonia), Juli-Anna Aerila, Merja Kauppinen, Pehr-Olof Rönnholm, Ann-Sofie Selin (Finland), Sandra Kalniņa (Latvia)

The Reading Nest project aims at creating, developing and investigating inspiring supportive reading environments in cooperation in Estonia, Finland and Latvia during the years 2021 – 2023. The project has a long history in Estonia since 2004.
In the project, children’s reading in early childhood education and in primary schools is enhanced by physical, social, emotional and cultural learning environments utilised by the project-teachers.
The presentation describes project activities and the perspectives of project-teachers.
The experiences of the participants of this project was collected via an online questionnaire using the ASM-model (Aerila & Kauppinen, 2019) of StoRE (Stories make Readers)-approach as a framework. In ASM (Amount, Suitability, Meaningfulness)-model amount refers to increasing the amount of reading materials and reading time, suitability is referring to interesting reading materials and materials that accord with the reading skills and meaningfulness is engaging activities before, during and after reading. Altogether 32 project participants’ responses were analysed via quantitative and qualitative methods. The results show that the experiences of pedagogical projects were very positive and the participants had similar experiences regardless of the project country. Especially activities that increased the agency and social dimensions in reading were considered as successful.
The project was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers NordPlus program, Estonian Civil Society Foundation and Tallinn City.
[Presentation .pdf]

Supportive Environment for Literacy in the Kindergarten
Anneli Laamann (Eesti Lugemisühing, Estonia)

The environment plays a specific part in development of literacy. Examples of text in a group space, letters and words on walls, books and reading, proper materials and tools that support formation and evolution of the child’s interest in reading and writing – all of this is very important, since it is in pre-school age the child acquires primary literacy. It is important that the surrounding environment and the adults support and are able to create a learning environment that meets the prerequisites for development of literacy.
Focus in Presentation is:
– text in the learning environment, opportunities for children to explore the text;
– reading nest and books;
– supporting children’s reading through play;
– text created by children, use of reading and writing in free games.
[Presentation .pdf]

Latvian Reading Nests
Dace Siliņa (160th pre-school educational institutional of Riga, Latvia)

The presentation will look upon how Reading Nests are made in Latvia as well as describe the most important factors in creating an emotionally safe environment for reading.

The Reading Nest -project: A Finnish perspective
Juli-Anna Aerila (University of Turku, Finland), Merja Kauppinen (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)

In this presentation we illustrate the results of the interventions on Reading Nest -project in Finland 2021-2023. Finland participated to the Nordplus-funded project with Estonia and Latvia. During the project, Finnish primary school and early childhood education teachers together with pre-service teachers and university researchers tested, further developed and refined learning environments that would enhance engagement in reading. The interventions concentrated on social, cultural, emotional and physical reading environments, like peer reading, co-operation between school classes, integrating reading materials with arts-based learning, and promoting family reading activities. The reading pedagogy utilized in the study is based on StoRe (= Stories make Readers) approach, which is a research-based approach for reading for pleasure (Aerila & Kauppinen 2019, 2021). In StoRe-approach reading pedagogy lies on the 3 cornerstones (The ASM-principle): the amount of reading, the suitability of reading materials, and meaningful activities based on reading experiences. In the presentation, the results of the interventions of 12 Finnish teachers are analyzed via the framework of learning environments (Brooks, 2010; Kauppinen & Aerila 2023). The preliminary results show that most teachers in the project 1) started by assessing and developing the physical reading environments to support the social reading environments and positive emotions towards reading, and 2) developed the reading practices to more co-operational, holistic and child-activating direction. Further, it seems that the network of teachers, researchers and pre-service teachers created a dynamic and dialogical community for the project.

Can a focus on rhythmic disyllables improve spelling in German and English?
Greg Brooks (University of Sheffield, United Kingdom)

In languages with less than 100% consistent orthographies, some phonemes or words have to be spelt in non-obvious ways, and this often creates confusion and errors. An innovative approach to teaching the spelling of (mainly) two-syllable words in German has been devised by a scholar in Austria, trialled with some success in a German-speaking area of northern Italy, and implemented in a school in Germany; the scheme has also been adapted into English and piloted at a school in England. The research in Germany and England was funded under Erasmus+. This presentation will explain the theory underpinning the scheme and how it has been evaluated, with examples of both the types of error it was designed to reduce and the test instruments. Interim results from the pilot project in England may also be available.
[Presentation .pdf]

How do students in Primary Education Support Program feel about reading?
Hülya Kartal (Bursa Uludag University, Türkiye)

The learning environment plays an important role in the development of both learning skills and learning. One of the crucial indicators of being a reader throughout life is how students feel about reading. And one of the factors that affect the students’ feelings while reading is the level of their reading skills. Being behind the class level in terms of reading skills is reflected in what students feel while reading.
Primary Education Support Program (PESP/IYEP) is an intervention program initiated for third grade students who cannot achieve sufficient learning skills in Turkish and Mathematics classes. In this program, support is provided in line with the needs of students in learning Turkish and mathematics lessons. Although there are some disruptions in the implementation of the program during Covid-19 period, it has been continuing since 2018-2019 academic year.

This study was organized with the project data supported by the B.U.U. Scientific Research Projects Coordination Unit (Project Number: SHIZ-2023-1366). In this study, it is aimed to determine the effect of Primary Education Support Program on students’ feelings about reading. For this purpose, it was studied with third grade primary school students participating in the program in two cities and six primary schools in Turkey. Pre-test and post-test applications were made in order to students’ feelings about reading. Analysis of the collected data continues. The results of the research will provide an opportunity to reveal the effects of the PESP/IYEP and to identify and develop the weaknesses of the program in the future.

Discovering literacy via Reading Pen
Maria Jürimäe (University of Tartu, Estonia)

The digital device – Reading Pen will be introduced. The books and games that become “alive” with the help of this pen. This screenless digital device is available in Estonia, and Latvia, and some materials are also in Russian (so can be used anywhere when Russian is spoken or learned). I will show Shammies books, word puzzle, and the new syllabi game, and introduce some research results about them.

The Golden Reader Project – 20 Years / 679.500 Books
Petra Potočnik (Društvo Bralna značka Slovenije, Slovenia)

One of the many projects we run in our Society is The Golden Reader project. We have been building it for almost 20 years with the support of sponsors and other collaborators. Since school year 2003/2004 each student has been given a picture book at the beginning of primary school, and thousands of faithful readers were presented with a book at the end of their primary schooling.
The books are considered a gift and a motivational tool. They promote family reading; help develop reading habits and reading culture and help to raise young readers who will love and enjoy reading all their life.
The project began because of the appreciation of the importance of domestic libraries in the development of reading culture, and the desire for quality (modern) books to reach as many young readers as possible.
A key promotional element of the project is its connection with the economy, as most of the funds for the project’s implementation come from the support of sponsors and donors (partly supplemented by public resources since 2009: the Slovenian Book Agency).
The connection with the economy is also important for the promotion of books for children and young people in the wider community that is not directly related to the field of books and reading culture.
Following the example of the Golden Reader project, various successful connections between books and the economy, as well as various public book gift projects and programs have been more courageously established in Slovenia.
[Presentation .pdf]

Reading Nests – Opportunity for Libraries and Society
Božena Kolman Finžgar (Anton Tomaž Linhart Radovljica Public Library, Slovenia)

During the epidemic, the libraries were closed, partly closed, offered only limited access or open on specific conditions. The access to computer and reading rooms was limited or forbidden, events were cancelled or took place via the Internet (in autumn 2021), reading encouragement events were adjusted to fit the epidemiological situation. Results: the number of visitors declined sharply, especially children; the number of borrowed materials decreased; instead of children, their mothers came to the library alone and selected the books for their children.
Kindergartens and schools were closed in 2020 and partly also in 2021; schoolchildren were schooled from home; teachers and pupils had their hands full with the new way of teaching. The encouragement of reading was pushed to the side – the only reading done was of the books in the school curriculum. All this meant that only the already formed readers read, while others who need support and encouragement read much less or not at all.
The consequences for children and society: a child with limited reading and comprehensive skills is bound to encounter learning difficulties as early as in the second triad of the primary school, and the older they get, the more issues they will have; the community loses the potential to become a highly developed society of innovation. And the results of PRLS 2021 for Slovenia are catastrophic: the reading skills of our 10 years old children drop for 23 points!
Reading nests are places where bookkeepers with books are set up in one place outside of institutions, in the open air, and right next to them is a space suitable for comfortable reading.
[Presentation .pdf]

How Games Motivate Kids to Read
Kaia Lainola (Kasvuruum, Estonia)

Games have the ability to motivate children to read by tapping into their natural needs and interests. Children are born with a strong desire to play, and through play, they learn important skills such as building relationships, taking risks, and understanding their own abilities. When it comes to acquiring specific skills like reading, guided play is more effective than free play. In guided play, children have the freedom to explore their interests while receiving support from teachers or parents. Learning through play is an enjoyable and engaging experience for children, allowing them to take control of the activity and decide what happens next. Dialogue- relationships and feelings cards can further support motivation for reading. Asking imaginative questions, incorporating physical movement, exploring letter sounds, and creating personal connections with books and peers can enhance the motivation to read during guided play.
[Presentation .pdf]

Exploring Written Language
Britta Hannus-Gullmets (Åbo Akademi, Finland)

Writing with auditory feedback from speech synthesis can be an interesting way of studying written language for a young child. I made a case study of four boys who wrote texts with auditory feedback twice a week in five months. The boys were 6, 7, 9 and 9 years old, and they had all some problems with reading and writing.
The purpose of the study was to follow very closely when the children learned to read and write, to describe what happened, and to study how auditory feedback could be used as a scaffold. My study of scaffolding was based on the theories developed by Bruner and by Masters and Yelland.
The youngest boy was learning the letters. their symbols at the keyboard and their sounds from auditory feedback. He began to write names and short words. The next youngest boy knew most letters. At first, he could not read even short words although he could tell the names of all the letters in the word. After a training period writing words with auditory feedback, he began to read words. The nine-year-old boys wrote small stories, tested how to spell words, and investigated the use of punctuation marks.
The teacher seemed usually to succeed in assisting the boys in a proper way, although she sometimes helped too much or too little. Unfortunately, the teacher seemed to be most interested in formal aspects of writing, when the boys were interested in playing with language and in writing exciting stories.

The Motivating Effect of Materiality: Pippi Longstocking, Karlsson and the Aisthesis of the Reading Act
Lisa Källström (Södertörn university, Sweden)

From publisher’s perspective, it is well known that the translation of texts also is a matter of negotiating license rights, while format, illustrations and paper quality are up to the publisher. The choices reflects different ideals as ideas about the considered reader, recognising how important the choices are according to the motivating aspects of the reading experience. For readers, it is equally obvious that books in their material aspects have the capacity to engage emotionally and hereby motivate to further reading. This recognition brings the reader/viewer’s embodied memories, aisthesis, to the centre of our analysis.
Aisthesis can be summarized as the embodied experience that is actualized in the rhetorical experience. Closely linked to aisthesis are other concepts such as memory (memoria), emotions (pathos), imagination (phantasia), all of which have an impact on our motivation. Through the concept of aisthesis, the critic’s attention is drawn to this composite experience, in which the rhetorical artefact is a component and cannot be isolated as an object of analysis. Using the classical concept of aisthesis as a reference framework the starting point of this presentation are illustrations for different editions of Astrid Lindgren’s work (Karlsson on the Roof, Pippi Longstocking) in the GDR, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and Russia.

Motivating Materiality. Elsa Beskow’s Puttes äfventyr i blåbärsskogen as an example for motivation in early literacy
Petra Bäni Rigler (PH FHNW, Switzerland)

Books are not written at all. They are manufactured by scribes and other artisans, by mechanics and other engineers and by printing presses and other machines (Stoddard 1987,4)”. In Stoddard’s early comprehension of the book as an object we can find on one hand an actual approach in the field of book history, literature science, rhetoric, and aesthetic (Bäni Rigler 2019, Field 2019, Hubli 2019, Källström 2020 a. o.). For these researchers indeed the interplay between text and images (intermediality and interartiality) plays a major role. But even more, they have an interest in the material aspects of a book as paper, color, typography, and format. On the other hand, we can find authors/illustrators whose (children’s) books exactly show, that they are not only written but manufactured. E.g., on the work of Elsa Beskow, one of the most important picture book artists in Sweden around 1900, we can find that her ideas to create a book focused on children’s early literacy. With a conscious design of her picture books and an own reading book she animated over generations children to learn reading and writing.
In this paper I want to discuss on the example of Beskow’s picture book classic Puttes äfventyr i blåbärskogen (1901) which impact the materiality of a book has on the reading motivation and how this classic has been transmitted in different cultures. Which motivation can picture books give in a time when media and media habits are changing? This paper is one part of the co-work project with Dr. Lisa Källström, Lund (see abstract Motivating Illustrations).
[Presentation .pdf]

Literacy problems can be minimized globally using digital game-like learning environments
Heikki Lyytinen (Finland)

The presentation will look at literacy problems that can be minimized globally using digital game-like learning environments. The most essential literacy problems which some children are facing most likely are the following: dyslexia (everywhere), incomplete basic reading skills due to not optimal instruction (in poor countries), failing reading comprehension due to lack of exciting reading materials (in poor countries), poor reading comprehension due to lack of interest in reading (among boys in rich countries). The author will provide the description of the problems and atypical literacy among those among whom it is most common as well as provide ideas how each of the problems can be solved using digital game-like learning environments (DGLE). The available DGLEs and the key feature(s) which make them effective are:
1. GraphoGame instructs basic reading skills by storing connections of spoken to written units
2. ComprehensionGame trains the use of working memory optimally to help in comprehension
3. Story reader can(X) help reaching the goal of reading (literacy) already before school age
X=not proven well enough yet.
However, the use of the described DGLEs presents both some challenges and exceptional possibilities, which the author will try to explain in this presentation.
[Presentation .pdf]

Kick-Start Literacy for All
Maria Kovacs (ALSDGC Romania/ Fundatia Noi Orizonturi, Romania)

Research shows that reading performance in the early grades is a strong predictor of reading ability throughout the school years, and is therefore likely to impact children’s academic and career trajectories, with those of children coming from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds being negatively impacted (Cunningham, A. E., Stanovich, K. E, 1997; Dolean, D. et al., 2019). Using a comparative approach, the present study aimed to determine whether there were differences in literacy skills development in children from low socio-economic backgrounds who received specifically developed emergent literacy instruction (intervention group, IG) and those who did not (control group, CG). The literacy program was developed based on recent scientific evidence (Bear, D., 2022) emphasizing the importance of the following in emergent literacy instruction: concepts about print (1), alphabet and letter-sound knowledge (2), concept of word (3), phoneme awareness (4), and word recognition (5). The intervention took place in the 2021-2022 school year, over an 8-month period, and consisted of using emergent literacy assessments, as well as literacy learning materials developed specifically for the preparatory grades. The total sample consisted of 300 children in 25 preparatory grade classes, divided between intervention and control groups (260 and 40 students, respectively), who were all assessed on the five above-mentioned emergent literacy concepts and skills, pre- and post-intervention. ANOVA analyses were conducted to test for differences between children in the two groups. Results highlight significant differences in terms of literacy development, with children in IG showing higher scores on all the five measures than children in the CG.

Pedagogical Bibliotherapy and Diverse Learners
Anu Carlsson (Tallinn Art Gymnasium, Estonia)

Bibliotherapy (also book therapy, reading therapy, poetry therapy) is a creative arts therapy that involves storytelling or the reading or writing of specific texts.
Bibliotherapy can provide support and solace for individuals coping with chronic physical illnesses, helping them navigate the emotional challenges, process their experiences, and find inspiration for coping and adaptation.
Bibliotherapy can offer a therapeutic outlet for individuals with disabilities, it can help children and teenagers navigate emotional challenges promoting self-expression, emotional well-being, and personal growth.
This presentation seeks to answer the question how different bibliotherapy approaches can support and motivate students with learning and emotional difficulties in school settings.
The presentation discusses how bibliotherapeutic techniques have been used for 7th and 8th grade students in one Estonian general education school during the school year. Many of these students have ADHD, autistic traits, diverse native languages, and difficulties with reading and writing.

Extensive Reading in Secondary School English Lessons to Enrich Students’ Vocabulary
Emīlija Jaunbirze (Riga State Gymnasium No 3), Evija Latkovska (University of Latvia)

Reading has always been a part of the learning process at school, but associating it only with academic needs can disengage students from reading in their free time. Reading large amounts of authentic or semi-authentic texts for the purpose of language acquisition and enjoyment is believed to be an opportunity to increase one’s reading comprehension, fluency, and motivation. What is more, to enrich one’s vocabulary and grammar structures. Reading and analysing the read text is a topical problem for teenagers, especially those aged 14-17. Some of the causes of this are a lack of interest, poor reading comprehension, and the distraction of technology. Gaining students focus on reading is not an easy task for teachers. Extensive reading to be enjoyable and exciting for the students, the reading material should be of interest and relevance to them. For example, students may be more engaged in reading a book that is related to their career aspirations, or their hobbies and interests that way unconsciously or consciously learning certain vocabulary. Therefore, the aim of the report is to reveal how extensive reading carried out in lessons of English in Grade 10 can help students enrich their vocabulary.

Results of the GROWE teacher training programme
Ariana-Stanca Vacaretu (Asociatia Lectura si Scrierea pentru Dezvoltarea Gandirii Critice, Romania)

Our poster will focus on sharing the findings of the study conducted during the trialling phase of the GROWE teacher training programme.
It will reflect the context in which GROWE was developed, providing some information about the categories of participants in the programme. The impact of the training programme on the students will be illustrated in conjunction with the growth areas targeted by the programme: disciplinary literacy (DL) and social-emotional learning (SEL).
The GROWE training has deepened the participating teachers’ understanding of the role DL and SEL play in students’ learning and has led to a marked shift in their pedagogy and an increase in their confidence to meet their students’ DL and SEL needs. The teachers are better able to plan for, deliver explicit strategies to support, and assess their students’ DL and SEL skills. This has led to the students’ making progress both within DL and SEL. Slightly more progress and been made within DL than SEL, and across the strands of DL and SEL, Collaborative Talk saw the biggest increase of all. Students across the ability range have benefitted from the GROWE model and those from the lower end have benefitted the most.
[Poster .pdf]

Silent books for beginning readers
Mare Müürsepp (Estonian Reading Association, Estonia)

During the last decade the idea to create and use the books characterized as ‘silent’ or ‘wordless’ has been strengthened in Estonian education. The presentation is inspired by the experience in the primary grades, where the silent books were used to support the pupils, noted by the teachers as struggling readers. A choice of books was presented to the pupil, and s/he was asked to tell, what s/he sees in the book. The researcher worked with the pupils one on one. There will be 3 cases described in the presentation about children’s responses to the books.
Usually the pupils who are week in classroom reading activities were happy to see that there are books without text printed on the pages, and they are free to express their ideas about the story in the book. The pupils who have reading difficulties because of their different language background seemed to feel confident to have their own words to say what they see in the book.
Two new books by Estonian artist Kertu Sillaste – “Appi! Help!” and “Ma ei karda/ I am not scared” are treating harm issues of anger, loneliness, helplessness. There are different scaring situations presented – child meeting with a spider, a snake, a dragon, a child in the war. The reader of the silent books can feel free how to name the creatures and which objects to select to describe in his/her storytelling.

Reading Nest project – support materials for kindergarten and elementary teachers
Maria Jürimäe, Meeli Pandis, Kaupo Peetsoo (Estonian Reading Association, Estonia)

The Reading Nest project aims at creating, developing and investigating inspiring supportive reading environments. It was initiated by the Estonian Reading Association in 2004 and got the FELA award for innovative literacy promotion in Europe in 2009.
In Estonia, hundreds of teachers are trained to enhance physical, social, emotional and cultural learning environments. Free for use support materials starting from a handbook in four languages to videos and posters are developed.
Poster presentation introduces a variety of support materials.

Grāmatons: An immersive guided reading experience
Līva Kukle (AS “Latvijas Mediji”, Latvia)

Reading can be a solitary, as well as a social practice. To foster reading traditions and literacy for children’s audiences, a Summer reading competition for children and families based on the “Read-A-Thon” concept was created at the publishing house “Latvijas Mediji” in 2021. The participants were asked not only to read a selection of books based on their age group and give short reviews, but also to complete creative photo tasks such as “Read at the beach”.

A significant increase of participant’s interest was observed between the first and second years of the event. The readers’ feedback showed that such a reading competition is deemed valuable by parents and young readers not only due to the motivation provided by prizes for the “winners”, drawn mainly in a raft, but also due to the added value of motivated reading and reading as a family activity. The participants’ feedback and statistics available to the organizers demonstrate fascinating insights into reading habits at home, reading comprehension between young audiences and other factors. The challenges presented by organizing a “readathon” are also featured at the poster presentation.

EstRA project Little Etnographs- Young Home- Researchers
Heli Prii, Eve Krais (Estonian Reading Association, Estonia)

The project started in 2010. For 8 years primary school children aged 8-12 nationwide have been encouraged to write research papers on their family history.
The project is definitely innovative in today’s educational landscape although the subject matter is history. The innovation can be seen in many aspects. For one, it fills in the gaps that have been created by the amount of virtual socialization. Important aspects of the work process are direct interaction between different generations, the ability to listen and record the information received and to pass it on. The research also teaches the different aspects of literacy like dealing with various sources, e.g., photos, maps, files and official archive material but also information available on the internet.
At this age the big challenge from the literacy point is the ability to follow the mandatory guidelines when composing the text, presenting the source material, highlighting the work process and explaining the way and reason of reaching certain conclusions.
Children’s research paper has to be submitted in handwriting. This challenges the young researcher to manifest the tradition of manual writing. In addition to that also the ability to present one’s work, prepare a presentation and choose the best tools for it.
The outcome of the project is the pupils’ written research papers that are presented in schools and at a national conference. The best projects are presented in pdf format on the Estonian Literacy Association website.