Free book bonanza for underprivileged children

Schoolchildren browsing at the book carnival organised by the All Saints Home. The four-day event raised almost $30,000, including donations for four nursing homes.
Schoolchildren browsing at the book carnival organised by the All Saints Home. The four-day event raised almost $30,000, including donations for four nursing homes. ST PHOTO: TAMARA CRAIU

Ten-year-old Winson Tan visits Yishun library every month to read books on two of his favourite topics, sharks and dinosaurs.

Last Friday, the Xishan Primary School pupil got to choose books on these topics at a charity carnival and take them home for free.

He was among 50 underprivileged schoolchildren from seven schools in Yishun who were able to pick from about 40,000 books before they went on sale to the public on Saturday.

The four-day book carnival, organised by the All Saints Home at its Yishun nursing home, ended on Monday.

It attracted about 200 visitors, and around 4,500 second-hand books were sold.

The event raised $28,986, including donations for the four nursing homes run by the All Saints Home.

Of the remaining 35,500 books, 10,000 will be donated to the North West Community Development Council for its mobile library points. The All Saints Home is looking for a home for the rest of the books.

The books were donated by second-hand bookshop owner Yap Hui Hong, 65.

She had amassed the collection along with her late husband, Mr Aravinakhsan Nair.

When her shop's lease ended on Nov 23 last year and she had to vacate the premises at Irving Industrial Building in Irving Road, near Paya Lebar, she donated the books to the All Saints Home, whose four homes care for more than 560 underprivileged elderly residents.

Mr Richard Quah, centre director for the Yishun and Hougang branches, said: "Madam Yap was very kind to donate the books to us. Letting the underprivileged schoolchildren pick up books for free is our way of giving back to the community."

Xishan Primary's discipline master Gabriel Chua, who accompanied the pupils on their trip last Friday, said the book carnival was especially meaningful for them.

"We told the pupils Madam Yap's story before coming on this trip. It's an opportunity for us to teach them the concept of 'paying it forward'," he said.

Zen Lim, 11, a Primary 5 pupil at Northland Primary School, said: "I really like horror and mystery books because they keep me in suspense. But I don't have a lot of books at home. My dad doesn't work any more, so it's hard for us to go out and buy books."

Madam Yap said: "I am very happy the books will be going to people who need and love books... my husband would have been very happy, too."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'Free book bonanza for underprivileged children'. Print Edition | Subscribe