Literature has always been an important part of Finnish culture. Finns are avid readers,
largely owing to the excellent library system. Finns are the most active EU citizens when it comes
to using libraries.
In Finland, reading is a hobby that begins in the home at a young age: according to a study by Statistics Finland, about 70% of parents read out loud to their children. Every third Finn reads literature every month, and this figure has remained stable since 2000.
The library system plays a central role in maintaining and developing Finnish literacy and in advancing reading as a hobby. The Government supports the development of library activities and fosters cooperation between schools and libraries.
Public support for literature
The market for Finnish literature is small so public support is indispensable for authors. The creative work of writers and translators is supported by means of grants and subsidies, and through separate artist grants. These grants to authors are allocated by the National Council for Literature.
Besides scholarships for individual authors, financial aid is granted in the form of discretionary government grants to national literary organisations and other actors in the field of literature. Aid for purchasing literary works is used to make low circulation books more readily available. The aid is granted to libraries for book purchases.
The Ministry of Education and Culture grants separate appropriations to support publication of easy-to-read books and making them familiar to the general public. The disbursing of grants and subsidies for easy-to-read literature has been delegated to the The Finnish Centre for Easy to Read, which operates in connection with the Finnish Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (FAIDD).
Translations of Finnish literature
Finnish Literature Exchange (FILI) disseminates information about Finnish literature abroad and promotes the translation of Finnish fiction and non-fiction written in Finnish, Swedish and Sami.
Currently over 200 titles are published in 40–50 languages every year. The Finnish Literature in Translation database contains references to information on Finnish, Swedish, and Sami fiction and non-fiction translations.
Finland will be the Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2014. The Finnish Literature Exchange (FILI) and the Finnish Literature Society are in charge of the implementation of the Guest of Honour project. A cultural programme focusing on German-speaking Europe in 2014 is being coordinated by the Finnish Institute in Germany.