Eu-Reading Circles, mapping and supporting local reading groups with a European project
In the Italian region Abruzzo there is a new project with European partners that supports reading groups. The mapping is still ongoing.
The occasion of World Book and Copyright Day, celebrated every 23 April since 1996, is the ideal starting point for discussing how the promotion of reading plays a central role in supporting key educational objectives for community programs.
The celebration appears even the more significant considering the fact that almost seventy-five million European adults lack adequate reading skills.
Books and reading represent an essential means of gaining knowledge, having information and cultural learning, indispensable for living in a globalized and constantly changing world – and something essential in preventing forms of social exclusion. In modern societies, knowing how to read represents a primary skill that allows citizens to live fully in a complex world, to work toward a better future and enjoy life more completely. (1)
The project starts from this premise and from the growing attention of international research and European documents. The quality of education is a strategic factor from early childhood for the cultural and social growth of individuals and communities. The European Erasmus + project "Eu- Reading Circles" (strategic partnership - key action 2), co-financed by the European Union, was conceived with the aim of increasing literacy and communication and social skills indispensable for the exercise of active citizenship in adults. The partnership (2), made up of universities, libraries and associations from five European countries (Italy, France, Poland, Greece, Spain) will be assisted by two partners from Abruzzo: the Department of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences of the Gabriele d'Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara and the Cultural Association “ SmartLab Europe” of Pescara.
Professor Ilaria Filograsso, project manager for the Department of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences of the University "d'Annunzio" of Chieti-Pescara, reiterates that what is innovative about the program lies above all in the active involvement of the educating community; this is especially felt in poor areas struggling with a dearth of educational and cultural opportunities. “The intergenerational transmission of disadvantage and social vulnerability - says Prof. Filograsso - has its roots in some specific risk factors experienced in childhood: among them the low level of education of parents is of crucial importance. It is therefore essential to invest in the role of adults (teachers, educators, cultural operators, parents, grandparents) appropriately trained and updated, capable of activating processes of inclusion in the younger generations and designing qualitatively significant educational contexts, and to do so in a way that touches all citizens: adults, and children and teenagers alike. ”
The project started in January 2021. It initiated a first phase that sought the acquisition of reliable data that could be used to build a map of the reading groups present and operating in the local and European territory. To this end, the two Abruzzo partners contacted libraries, municipalities, bookshops, associations, publishing houses and citizens in their region.
After a provisional assessment, Annarita Bini, President of SmartLab Europe Association , stated that the “mapping of the existing reading groups in Abruzzo is a work-in-progress, but it is possible to offer a first partial interpretation of the date collected. At the moment, over 20 reading groups have been mapped throughout the region: of these, over 30% are in the province of Pescara, over 20% in the provinces of Chieti and L'Aquila and just over 10% in the province of Teramo. In more than 30% of cases the reading groups are inserted in the context of Associations, over 20% refer to libraries (especially independent ones) and informal groups, just over 10% come from municipal libraries, while a very small percentage involves school libraries. "
The data collection continued till 15 May 2021. Participants of reading groups in the region could participate by filling out the online questionnaire .
There are also expressions of interest on the part of small municipalities and cultural associations. They have expressed the desire to be informed and involved in the subsequent phases of the planned activities.
In fact, in addition to the mapping, the project provides for the implementation of reading groups and the training of cultural operators capable of running them effectively, guiding them and giving them continuity in the territories; of course, the goal is for them to become active and multifunctional centers, networked with other formal agencies. and non-formal ones that work to combat educational poverty. The target of consolidating the reading skills of adults represents a strategic methodology also for the literacy of children and adolescents, for the well-being of families and neighborhoods. From the perspective of generative welfare, we are aiming to mobilize individual and community resources and skills.
Annarita Bini and Ilaria Filograsso
(1) European Commission, Directorate-General for Education and Culture (2012). EU High Level Group of Experts on Literacy: Final Report.
(2) Project partnership:
- University of Seville, coordinating institution (Seville, Spain)
- "Gabriele d'Annunzio" University of Chieti-Pescara, Department of Arts and Social Sciences (Chieti, Italy)
- SmartLab Europe Cultural Association (Pescara, Italy)
- University of Thessaloniki (Thessaloniki, Greece)
- University of Szczecin (Szczecin, Poland)
- Benilde Association (Seville, Spain)
- Solution Association: Solidarité & Inclusion (Paris, France)
- Pomeranian Library (Szczecin, Poland)