Date

On 25-26 March 2024, EIBF attended the second annual Day of European Authors conference, held at the central art museum M Leuven in Leuven, Belgium.

The conference, organised by the European Commission, sought to foster interdisciplinary, cross-sectorial collaboration between the book and education sectors to address the widespread issue of worsening reading skills and habits among the youth. The event was a part of a wider web of Europe-wide events aimed at bolstering participation in the world of literature and reading, including the organisation of reading events in school, libraries, and bookshops all around Europe as well as a tour featuring 120 European authors who met with young readers in all 40 Creative Europe countries.

Indeed, the conference could not have chosen a more pressing issue, as the annual Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, intended to evaluate educational systems by measuring 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance on mathematics, science, and reading, has revealed a deeply worrying drop in reading skills among the youth. Even more worrying is the gap between male and female students, with reading skills of boys worsening in virtually every EU country bar Ireland and Spain, while the opposite was true for mathematics, in which boys on average outperformed girls. These issues were highlighted in the keynote speech by Iliana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. 

Held over the course of two days, the event consisted in a series of presentations and panels followed by interactive workshops where various stakeholders in the field of culture had the opportunity to discuss important themes in the sector. The first day’s panels revolved around the themes of current challenges in the education sector, reading promotion initiatives across the entire book sector, and youth participation in reading. A panel of young readers shared their views on various reading initiatives in their respective countries.

On the second day, the EIBF team had the opportunity to participate in a workshop revolving around the topic of reading promotion through formal and non-formal education, where we represented the perspective of booksellers and bookshops. All participants agreed on the urgency of breaking barriers and silos between the respective Ministries of Culture and Education to encourage more dialogue between policymakers; the need for transnational exchange of best practices, knowledge and experience between peers of the same sectors (e.g. booksellers, authors, teachers); and the need for higher budgets and financial support across the entire cultural supply chain through sector-specific policies.

All in all, this was a deeply enriching opportunity for EIBF and we’re looking forward to new stimulating ideas and projects that will emerge from it. We cannot wait to be back next year!