Celebrating a day dedicated to reading

Pupils from Da Qiao Primary School at the National Library Building yesterday taking part in the Read For Books campaign, which sees one book donated to less privileged children for every 10 people who read for 15 minutes.
Pupils from Da Qiao Primary School at the National Library Building yesterday taking part in the Read For Books campaign, which sees one book donated to less privileged children for every 10 people who read for 15 minutes.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

National Reading Day, part of a 5-year reading movement, kicks off with activities islandwide

Passengers boarding selected Jetstar Asia flights at Changi Airport were being offered novels, children's books and non-fiction titles, starting yesterday.

They can keep the books but are encouraged to put the same book or another one in the seat pocket on their return Jetstar flight, in a book exchange at cloud level.

Called the Big Book Swap, it is part of the first nationwide celebration of the joy and importance of reading, which kicked off yesterday with a slew of literary activities.

National Reading Day, which will fall on the last Saturday of July each year, was launched by Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim at the National Library Building.

Some 300 people, including students and families, gathered there to take part in the Read For Books campaign. For every 10 people who read for 15 minutes, one book was donated to a reading programme run by the National Library Board (NLB) for less privileged children.

By the end of the week-long campaign yesterday, more than 6,000 books had been donated by OCBC Bank and publisher Scholastic.

As for the book swop on Jetstar Asia flights, a total of 500 books donated by the National Library Board (NLB) and publishers were given out yesterday.

Over at Muhammadiyah Welfare Home in Bedok, 76 staff and boys also spent time reading as part of the campaign over the last week.

They were joined yesterday by Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin and eight fellow alumni of Min Xin Primary School, which used to be situated where the home is now.

National Reading Day is part of the five-year National Reading Movement launched on June 3, which aims to encourage Singaporeans to "read more, read widely and read together" with family and friends.

The NLB will continue to offer different programmes to accommodate a variety of interests and reading habits, said Dr Yaacob at yesterday's event.

"There are multiple platforms now. People are reading on social media; people are reading on their smartphones. I think as long as they read something, that is important for us," he said.

He added: "Going forward with the Smart Nation (initiative), with how knowledge is going to be very pervasive, reading becomes important also as a lifelong habit for you to upgrade yourself, train and pick up new skills necessary to gain employment."

Yesterday, music and drama performances as well as talks and storytelling sessions were held throughout the day at libraries islandwide.

Athletes from TeamSG were at the plaza of the National Library Building to meet visitors and share their book recommendations with them. On display at the plaza was the Library Quilt, sewn by a group of expatriate women and presented to the NLB.

Visitors to the building were also invited to pick up a free former library book to keep and sign a pledge to read. More than 420,000 pledges have been made over the two months since June.

Hunched over a copy of Reader's Digest and a Sherlock Sam book at the National Library Building yesterday, Mr Aminuddin Abdul Aziz, 47, and his son Izz Hamzah, nine, shared some quiet minutes reading for the Read For Books campaign.

The project manager in a social enterprise said he took his son to the event as the Primary 3 pupil likes to read. "This is a good opportunity to spend time with him, reading for a good cause," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 31, 2016, with the headline 'Celebrating a day dedicated to reading'. Print Edition | Subscribe