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First year of “Read to Me!” campaign in Croatia exceeds expectations

ZAGREB, 4 April 2014 - The first anniversary of “Read to Me!”, a national campaign promoting reading aloud to children from the earliest age, was celebrated today in the “Cvrčak” kindergarten with a play in which the campaign organisers, actors and children presented in a fun way the excellent results of the campaign that has united the whole country with the aim of making reading a daily habit of all parents and children.

UNICEF Croatia / Igor Nobilo / 2014

The reach and success of the first year of the “Read to Me” campaign implementation is best seen in the positive experiences of its participants, as well as the impressive figures: almost 4,000 picture books were collected for poorer families, children’s wards in hospitals, kindergartens and children’s homes; there was an increase in the number of children joining libraries, and more than a hundred libraries and a thousand volunteers participated in more than 200 events that gathered ten thousand children and parents for book reading sessions – with numerous artists, mayors and government ministers among them.

All this was told in verse by actors Mirna Medaković and Silvio Vovk, UNICEF’s goodwill ambassador Maja Vučić, Head of UNICEF Croatia office Valentina Otmačić, campaign coordinator Kristina Čunović, and the author of the play on the campaign and children’s writer Josipa Franjić Radulović. The merry play reminded everybody of fairy tale workshops, storytelling events, reading aloud to children in city squares, libraries and hospitals, of travelling picture books in bookmobiles, of the photography contest with prizes and the millennium photograph titled “Read to Me”, taken in Dubrovnik. They were joined by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Policy and Youth Milanka Opačić, under whose auspices the campaign is being implemented, who read the local version picture book “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” by Sanja Pilić to the children.

“Reading is important because it stimulates and develops pre-reading and reading skills in children, which facilitates communication and better achievements in school. Therefore, our aim is for every child to receive his or her first picture book, and for every parent to become acquainted with the benefits of reading aloud to children from the earliest age. I’m particularly happy to see this campaign really taking root in all parts of Croatia. In places where there are no libraries, books were delivered to children on wheels or in trunks, and soon they will become a part of the ‘inventory’ in paediatric practices because every child has a right to have access to books and picture books”, said Valentina Otmačić, Head of UNICEF Office in Croatia.

UNICEF Croatia / Igor Nobilo / 2014

“Today, when children are exposed to the modern technology more than ever, books are often put aside, while the importance of reading aloud to children is neglected. This campaign sends out the message that picture books should take precedence when choosing toys from the earliest age, and that parents can change the lives of their children by their own example by fostering reading habits that have an impact on their overall development. Therefore, all these precious moments of closeness with the child through reading stories together should be nurtured from the first days onwards because reading makes every child very happy, and that lifelong love remains”, said Milanka Opačić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Policy and Youth.

The campaign has been advertised on a thousand poster sites throughout Croatia. It has been supported by many publishers, as well as the media, which have broadcast around 200 campaign spots. For example, in Koprivnica 33 % more children joined a library in 2013 compared to 2012, while the number of visits of parents with children doubled. Libraries in Zadar, Rijeka, Karlovac, Split and Vinkovci have recorded a similar trend. Creative librarians throughout the country are preparing numerous new surprises for their members: bed-time story readings, picture book exhibitions and round table discussions, openings of small libraries in paediatric practices, and promoting regional literature by reading in the local dialect. This year, the campaign was joined by the Croatian Logopedic Association, which will organise workshops for parents, educators and the wider public on early literacy, language, reading and writing.    

The research carried out by the Ipsos Puls agency for UNICEF in 2012 shows that 23 % of parents of six-month-old children in Croatia do not read or look at picture books with their babies, and that reading together does not count among the daily habits of 9 % of the parents of one-year-old children, 7 % of the parents of three-year-old children and 14 % of the parents of six-year-old children. The research also shows that 4 % of one-year-old children, 2 % of three-year-old children and 1 % of six-year-old children do not own a single picture book. The aim of the “Read to Me” campaign is to include all parents and children, and to make reading a regular habit of parents and children, for which as little time as 15 minutes a day is enough.

The campaign is organised by the Commission for Library Services for Children and Youth of the Croatian Library Association, Croatian Pediatric Society, Croatian Reading Association, Croatian Association of Researchers in Children's Literature, Croatian Logopedic Association and UNICEF Croatia under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth.

For more information about the campaign in Croatian language, visit

For all additional information, please contact:

Gorana Dojčinović
Tel: 01 3031620 or 098 226681



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