What is called a “reading prescription” is called for in a parliamentary motion put forward by Korsholm municipal politician Rebecca Åkers of the Social Democrats. The background that Åkers states is that children no longer read or speak as they used to, and families should therefore, according to the MP’s proposal, be able to get a prescription for reading from a child counselor.
The idea of reading prescriptions for families is not unfamiliar to the staff at children’s counseling centers, where reading aloud and language development have often been discussed in the past.
– Story reading has disappeared, as people are happy to give children a phone as soon as they can open their eyes, says Katarina Palo, a nurse in the northern area of the Ostrobothnia welfare region, to the Finnish state broadcaster Yle.
– If you have many children at home, you don’t necessarily have to read stories for all different ages. But that books are part of everyday life, says Palo.
“Children’s language development is affected”
The Welfare Area Board also supports the proposal, with sector manager Pia-Maria Sjöström arguing that it is about seeing “the human being as a whole” and using “common sense”.
– Children’s language development is affected by reading less and we have many different families with different backgrounds and for some, reading is more natural than for others, she says.
About 20 years ago, Finland started to prescribe so-called exercise prescriptions, or physical activity on prescription, as a complement to or instead of medication. Today, almost all Finnish municipalities have some form of exercise counseling in health care, for children and adults. A Swedish study recently concluded that physical activity on prescription can help children who do not move enough.