Reading, Writing and the Moomins

I share a few thoughts on the official launch of the new Moomin initiative

It is language that distinguishes us from other species. The ability to express fears, dreams, the future and the past are central to humanity, and without a nuanced language we lose the connection to our feelings.”
Sophia Jansson 

Last Thursday, I spent a congenial hour in the company of an array of publishers, authors, book brainiacs and Moomin maestros at the official launch of Reading, Writing and the Moomins.

The live-stream event, presented by Andrea Reuter, was broadcast from the Courage, Freedom, Love! exhibition (celebrating 75 years of the Moomins) at The National Museum of Finland in Helsinki – birthplace of writer and artist Tove Jansson. Conceived to spark enthusiasm for reading and writing among the Moomin community and beyond, I am delighted to confirm that it reignited my already keen interest in the importance of words.

This paean of praise to the written word comprised a fascinating selection of guests from a wide range of organizations involved in the project, including representatives and Moominites from UNICEF, Oxfam, the Red Cross, Macmillan, Otava and PEN International. Of particular interest to me, however, was listening to Tove’s niece, Sophia Jansson, the artistic director at Moomin Characters Ltd with her son, James Zambra, a designer at Kobra, explaining how Reading, Writing and the Moomins came about and the process of designing unique Moomin alphabets from Tove’s maps and novels. Sophia also expressed her anxieties over coming generations losing the use of language to digitisation – a concern one often hears voiced by fellow lexophiles.

Natania Jansz from Sort of Books, the publisher responsible for printing Tove’s work in English was another personal highlight, as were the Finnish school children sharing their thoughts on reading, which they delivered in perfect English. Oh, that I could converse so well in Finnish, or perhaps I should say, ‘Suomen kieli’.

You can still watch Reading, Writing and the Moomins on the official YouTube channel. Please follow #MoominABC on Twitter to stay up to date with this inspiring initiative.

Reading and writing skills and education are key to equal and peaceful societies. As the pandemic has disrupted the education of millions of children, this is more important than ever”
–  Nina Vähäpassi (Corporate Alliances Manager, Finnish Committee for UNICEF)

Image © Moomin Characters™



Categories: Features, Tove Jansson

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16 replies

  1. This sounds like a wonderful initiative – the written word is so important and the Moomins are definitely well placed to encourage love of reading. Off to check out the video, thank you for the link!

    (Just a minor thing – I think Sophia is Tove’s great-niece…?)

  2. I’ve just had a watch and it’s inspiring, they are so right about the importance of language. I must think about it some more and continue my exploring of Tove Jansson!

  3. That was a thoroughly fun watch and I love that there’s an official Moomins YouTube channel. Great initiative too.

  4. I had completely missed this, Paula so thank you and I shall settle down to watch the video later. The concept and resources will be so useful for schools and parents. What a wonderful idea!

  5. Brilliant! Go The National Museum of Finland!

  6. What fun, and I’m glad to see a new installment in your Tove Trove series. I’ve thought of your project a few times during recent months but I’m having enough trouble timing pick-ups for my library holds without asking for backlisted books that I’m just interested in but don’t HAVE to read for one reason or another; but I’m fortunate to have a public library and doubly fortunate that they are staffing it during the pandemic (after having shut down for the first six months) so this is not a complaint. On a tangent, I just finished watching a Finnish crime series and was amazed by how different/similar the language sounds compared to Swedish/Norwegian/Icelandic shows I’ve watched. Yes, everything I know about Scandi-languages, I’ve learned from TV. LOL

    • I really must get a wriggle on with the TT project. Like so much else this year, it has fallen by the wayside. 😕

      My local library isn’t open to the public at present but it’s possible to order titles online. When it is ready for collection, one knocks on the door and the librarian appears wearing a mask. She brings the book in a white paper bag bearing the words: “Now wash your hands”. Such peculiar times.

      I hope all is good with you, Marcie. Stay safe. 😊

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