New initiative aims to encourage reading among less-privileged children

The new initiative is part of the National Reading Movement, a five-year campaign launched in 2016 by the NLB to encourage reading.
The new initiative is part of the National Reading Movement, a five-year campaign launched in 2016 by the NLB to encourage reading.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - A new initiative to encourage children from less-privileged backgrounds to read was launched on Saturday (July 28), in conjunction with the annual National Reading Day.

The National Library Board (NLB) hopes to help 100,000 children, aged seven to 17, over the next four years under the new project, called WondeRead.

NLB content and services director Valerie Cheng said: "It's important for children to have easy access to good quality books."

The new initiative is part of the National Reading Movement, a five-year campaign launched in 2016 by the NLB to encourage reading.

Under WondeRead, the NLB will work with voluntary welfare organisations - such as the Singapore Boy's Home and the Lakeside Family Service Centre - to deliver books to children on a quarterly basis.

The books will be curated based on each child's interests, said Ms Cheng.

"They may not already have a favourite author so we will help them select the books," she said, adding each child will be given three books based on their preferences, as well as one aimed at "stretching their reading diet".

The NLB will also provide each of its partner organisations with a collection of 200 books to start a reading corner on their premises, as well as other resources aimed at facilitating discussions and activities centred around the books.

WondeRead was launched at an event on Saturday (July 28) at the National Library building by Minister for Communications and Information Mr S. Iswaran, who also helped distribute books to beneficiaries from the Lakeside Family Services as well as The Business Times Budding Artists Fund.

"The objective here is to reach out to a group of children who may not avail themselves of the facilities in our libraries," he said.

Mr Iswaran added he hoped to see more corporations volunteer their efforts, as well as voluntary welfare organisations.

Also held in conjunction with National Reading Day was the Big Book Giveaway, where members of the public could each take home three books given away by the NLB, held at the National Library building and VivoCity.

Separately, the NLB - together with the Early Childhood Development Agency and the Asian Civilisations Museum - launched Artful Conversations: Stories from the Past, a resource kit with activities and book recommendations aimed at deepening children's knowledge of Singapore's early culture and heritage, as well as encouraging parent-child bonding.

The resource kit was launched by Minister of State for Social and Family Development, Mr Sam Tan, at an event at the Woodlands Regional Library on Saturday morning.

More than 3,600 such resource kits will be distributed to all pre-schools here.