Parvela is the acclaimed author of over 80 children’s books, including the Ella series, which has been translated from Finnish into several languages. For him, reading and laughing out loud with his Uncle Reijo is one of his fondest childhood memories. He says these moments are the reason he’s still writing.
He’s also convinced of the power of words to shape perception in a world of populist politics and mass media.
“Without reading skills you’re unarmed,” he says. “You need to know how to compare different kinds of truths. Reading is the answer. Get children to read!”
As manual jobs die out, reading is a life skill that’s only becoming more valuable for our children. However, for them it should be just fun, or sad, or exciting, says Parvela. They don’t need to know it’s educational.
“Every child should have a castle around them. And the castle should be built up by stories,” explains the writer. “As adults it’s our job to build those castles.”
The famous author points out that while e-books are now readily available for children, research in Finland shows that kids themselves actually prefer the look and feel of a book in hand. So for him, building castles is best done with a bit of (pleasurable) manual labour!
It seems that whichever way you do it, the simple act of sharing a book with a child lays foundations that will last a lifetime.