French Focus on Reading : La lecture déclarée Grande Cause Nationale

Reading has become a great national cause in France. Visiting Château-Thierry earlier this summer, as part of the 400th anniversary of the birth of Jean de La Fontaine, President Emmanuel Macron proclaimed the declaration placing reading at the heart of the life of all French people. La Lecture: Grande Cause Nationale aims to revitalize the relationship that younger generations have with books. The one-year program includes initiatives intended to promote the learning and practice of reading at all ages, and in particular by schoolchildren, middle and high school students. The program is an extension of Macron’s efforts since 2017 to carry out a proactive language policy to fight against illiteracy and promote the French language around the world.

The multi-faceted program includes public events, contests and even a personal Culture Pass for students to apply toward local cultural activities and products as they wish (books, concerts, theaters, museums, music lessons, digital subscriptions, and more). Moreover, Un Livre pour les Vacances, equips each 10-11 year old student with a book to take with them on summer holidays while Partir en Livre keeps reading top of mind with coordinated literary events held throughout France on beaches, in campsites, parks and gardens bringing books closer to children, adolescents and their families during summer vacations. The contest entitled Les Petit Champions de la Lecture promote reading among young people through oral communication with an emphasis on sociability and sharing. Middle school students are invited to read in public a short text of their choice for a maximum of three minutes, taken from a work of fiction. Regional finalists are invited to a grand national final in Paris. Nuits de la Lecture promotes books and reading to all audiences with thousands of events across France and abroad held continuously throughout a complete evening and night spanning multiple time zones.

Another great initiative of the Grande Cause Nationale includes the President’s plan to reopen the Château de François 1st, in Villers-Cotterêts, creating an International City of the French Language. The town of Villers-Cotterêts is of symbolic importance as it was there that an edict was signed in 1539 making French the official language of France. With this renovation, the aim is to make the Château de Villers-Cotterêts a living place, like the French language, rich in multiple influences. Exhibitions, Performances and Panels will share the diversity of creations from the French-speaking world. La Cité will also be a place for training and learning French for all audiences. The Cité Internationale de la Langue Française will open to the public in spring 2022. Que vive la lecture !

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