“A mobile game or a book? Both!”: presentation of the project promoting reading and social skills among pupils

Dvi mielos mergaitės skaito knygas gulėdamos ant grindų namuose
Two cute children reading books lying on the floor at home.

Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė Public Library of Panevėžys County together with partners Klaipėda County Ieva Simonaitytė Public Library, Kaunas County Public Library, and Institute of Science and Culture in Norway has started implementing the project “Innovative solutions for promoting the reading of Lithuanian libraries for the development of social relations of children and youth with the environment”. On the 2nd of September, 2021 the organisers presented the project in an online event named A mobile game or a book? Both!”.

The main goal of the project is to create a tool, i.e. a mobile game that will promote reading, improve children’s emotional well-being, and social connections. The content of the game will be linked to a selection of valuable books on current children’s topics. These books will be delivered to 39 libraries and will be available on special bookshelves. It is important that the benefits of the project will be available to children and libraries in other regions.

During the presentational event experts in education and psychology discussed the reading habits of today’s pupils and looked for innovative solutions, such as this project, to promote reading. Below we share some ideas presented in the event.

Child and adolescent psychologist Akvilija Kiburienė: “Impact of social networks on children’s perception “Who am I?” Distorted, scattered depictions of reality in social networks bring children the belief “that everyone is fine, but not me”. A feeling of insecurity or insignificance to the world is formed. With unacceptable behaviour a young child seeks to prove that they are meaningful or vice versa – want to close. Reading helps to reduce stress, improves sleep quality, helps to understand those who are around you, increases the feeling of happiness”. 

Inga Mitunevičiūtė, Chairwoman of the Lithuanian Chapter of the International Children’s and Youth Literature Association IBBY, Director of the Children and Youth Department of the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania: “The reading environment is shaped by the family environment, school, libraries, personal libraries. Becoming a reader is not easy, it requires a lot of ingredients. When asked what would encourage them to read, the children answer that they would like book clubs, meetings with writers, various quizzes, literary brain teasers, book presentations. Children do not read e-books and are reluctant to read them. Finding the right relationship between the traditional form of the book and between innovation is at the heart of this project”.

Anykščiai Antanas Baranauskas Basic School Lithuanian language and literature teacher-expert, member of the board of the association Lituanistų sambūris, methodologist of the National Education Agency project “Development and implementation of digital education content” activity “Renewal of digital teaching resources” Dangira Nefienė: ”If parents do not read, the book is not valued  at home and the child will not read either. If we don’t find time to read to or with children, the teenage “reading pit” will deepen. “But it is the task of teachers of Lithuanian literature and librarians to creatively use technologies in the reading process to add value. This project will contribute to the targeted use of technology. If we are able to “catch” technology when children play and get interested, it will be a great help for teachers of Lithuanian litearture“. 

Rūta Šileiko, a primary school teacher at Vilnius Spindulys Progymnasium and an alumnus of the program “I choose to teach!”, shared her experience about the application of technology in a reading project with students. The teacher notes that today the learning process needs to shift to inspire pupils. The students want to read when they succeed. In the implementation of the reading project, according to the teacher, it was important that the reading was targeted and that technology was used as a tool for creativity. Social issues also play a decisive role when you tell, discuss, share.

Project manager Kristina Jakubauskaitė-Veršelienė: “This is an applied reading project that aims to help children and adolescents in grades 5-8 in two areas: to understand themselves (their personality, to deal with psychological issues) and to build relationships (with the environment, friends, teachers, parents)”. 

Currently, a study of the reading situation of children and youth is being carried out: reading topics, social issues, existing research are being analyzed. Then a unique targeted 3000 books collection will be formed. The central focus of the project is to develop a reading promotion game app with a partner, the Norwegian Institute of Science and Culture, which has experience in the field of children’s literary education and the introduction of information technology into the educational process. Libraries will be provided with important facilities. The whole game will be accompanied by educational activities, children will be invited, taught to play and rewarded.

The project presenting online event “A mobile game or a book? Both!” in Lithuanian language:

The project is implemented in three regions of the country. Main partners: Panevėžys County Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė Public Library, Kaunas County Public Library and Klaipėda Ieva Simonaitytė Public Library. It is planned to involve 880 players, over 23 thousand participants will take part in educational, presentation and award events.

The project is funded by European Economic Area and Norwegian Financial Mechanisms Instrument 2014-2021 “Development of Cultural Accessibility and Strengthening Cultural Education”.