Finnish literacy initiative Read Hour comes to the UK

Finnish literacy initiative Read Hour comes to the UK

Finnish literacy initiative Read Hour is coming to the UK for the first time in September, and will be supported by Waterstones, Macmillan Children’s Books and Oxfam as well as celebrities Jennifer Saunders, Cressida Cowell and Philip Ardagh.

The event is celebrated on UN International Literacy Day on 8th September, and encourages people to spend just one hour of their day reading anything from a book to a magazine to a comic book. The official Read Hour will be held at 2 p.m.–3 p.m., but anyone unable to take part then is encouraged to hold their own Read Hour at any time that suits them on 8th September. Reading alone and reading together with a family member, friend, classmates or colleagues are equally encouraged.

The initiative has attracted lots of support in Finland since its launch three years ago, with the country's president Sauli Niinistö a patron, and the Moomin characters a prominent feature.

Thousands of Finns share their Read Hour participation on social media every year, and it is hoped that UK organisations taking part, which also include Sort Of Books, World Book Day, BookTrust and Love Reading will help boost the scheme. Anyone taking part is encouraged to share a photo of themselves or the book they are reading on social media using the hashtag #ReadHourUK.

There will be special Read Hour events taking place at Waterstones stores in London and Glasgow on 8th September at 4 p.m. The Glasgow event at the Sauchiehall Street store will see Moomin storyteller Liz Fost entertain audiences with interactive storytelling and crafts. In London’s Kingston store attendees will have the opportunity to meet and have a photo with Moomintroll and hear tales of Moominvalley from children’s author Philip Ardagh, the author of The World of Moominvalley (Macmillan Children's Books).

Roleff Kråkström, m.d of Moomin characters, said: “We have made a long-term commitment to helping spark a love of reading and writing in young people around the globe, and are delighted to be bringing Read Hour to the UK as part of that mission. We believe that being able to read and write opens up a world of possibilities for young people, allowing them to communicate their hopes and dreams, relate to others, engage with the big issues of our times, and create positive change.”

A range of Read Hour resources are available for bookshops, schools, and libraries who would like to take part in the initiative. For further information, contact

Olli Alanen, executive director of Finland's Children and Youth Foundation, blogs about the initiative here.