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Hanna Pöyliö

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Ribbon FINLAND 100
Want to engage the community & improve reading literacy?

Reading Grandmas and Grandpas

Jyväskylä, Finland
Reading Grandmas and Grandpas visit schools to help students struggling with reading. During the reading session, the student gets positive reinforcement and the undivided attention of a trained Reading Grandma or Grandpa.

What is Reading Grandmas and Grandpas?

“I learnt kind of a lot from grandma. I learnt what's a smell and what's a scent – a lot of new words.”

– 10-year-old student

Reading is one of the most fundamental life skills. Reading proficiency encompasses a range of different aspects, with comprehension and technical reading skills at its core.  

Many countries have witnessed a decline in children's comprehensive reading skills. This should be addressed in and outside of school. Poor reading skills negatively impact a child's school success and education choices, can limit career options or even cause exclusion from working life. 

Globalization and international mobilization have increased the number of students from immigrant backgrounds. For these students, learning the language can play a crucial role in their schoolwork, sense of inclusion in the school and integration into society. 

One solution to the issue of declining reading skills is to recruit and train Reading Grandmas and Grandpas, who support students struggling with reading. This model presents a framework to support reading skills from an early age with senior support.

Trained Reading Grandmas and Grandpas are happy to help teachers and improve students' reading skills, visiting schools for half a lesson to read with the children. During these sessions children and seniors read and discuss a variety of books, including both fiction and nonfiction. 

The sessions are designed mainly for those struggling the most and in need of additional support. Reading Grandmas and Grandpas are highly trained in researched reading techniques relating to reading fluency and learning new vocabulary. During these sessions, the Reading Grandmas and Grandpas give their undivided attention to the child, providing encouragement and perhaps even sparking a life long interest in reading. 

This innovation has been adopted by over 60 schools in Finland.

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Innovation Overview
8 - 12
Age Group
4 965
Tips for implementation
Facilities for reading sessions, time to find and train volunteers
Contact information
Hanna Pöyliö
HundrED Review

Reading Grandmas and Grandpas brings seniors to schools in a pedagogically meaningful way.


Trained volunteers boost the students' confidence in learning and increase their motivation.


The innovation can be implemented anywhere, as the school trains volunteers with materials provided.


See this innovation in action

The meaning of Reading Grandmas and Grandpas program for its volunteers
Word explanation game filled with grandmas and grandpas!
Reading Grandma Leena encourages everyone to refresh themselves by volunteering


Achievements & Awards


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Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Mapping the need
Consider which students could benefit from additional support with their reading and decide how the sessions would fit in with the students' curriculum.
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Finding volunteer seniors
Find a motivated senior with enough time to visit your class once a week for half an hour to support the child's reading. Exchange contact information as soon as you find a suitable senior so you can schedule Reading Grandmas and Grandpas training and make other arrangements.
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Contacting the Reading Grandmas and Grandpas program
Contact the program coordinator and inform you want to engage in the Reading Grandmas and Grandpas program.
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Informing the school and homes
Get the support of your principal and inform the parents and guardians of the program. You can find help with this in the materials provided.
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Reading the material
Carefully read through the Teacher Manual provided by the program coordinator. In this manual you can find the answer to frequently asked questions and advice to help you avoid common obstacles, as well as to make implementation as easy as possible.
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Training a senior to be a Reading Grandma or Grandpa
Everything you need to train the seniors is provided in the materials, including a detailed outline of the training session. Simply schedule a time and location for the training.
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