SINGAPORE - For Suri Rihanna, English used to be the main language spoken by all at home except her grandparents.
But since she was exposed to Malay language books in Primary 2, Suri has grown to love the language, so much so that she acts as a translator for her grandparents when her younger brother and sister speak in English to them.
In particular, what piqued her interest in reading Malay texts was the well-received Nabil Nabilah Reader Series launched in 2015 for Primary 1 and 2 pupils.
"What made me interested in reading the books was that they were all quite small and at the same time very colourful," said Suri, now 11 and a Primary 5 pupil at Shuqun Primary School.
Now, a new instalment of the Nabil Nabilah Reader Series, this time for Primary 3 and 4 pupils, has been developed by a group of teachers.
The new Reader Series was launched by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, on Saturday (July 7) at this year's Fiesta Bahasa at the Canopy @ J-Link in Jurong East.
The annual event, now into its fourth year, showcases efforts by the Ministry of Education and Malay Language Learning and Promotion Committee (MLLPC) to promote a love of reading among the young.
"Reading and language learning are interdependent and it is my sincere hope that the Nabil Nabilah Reader Series can be used as teaching and learning resources," said Professor Faishal, who is also chairman of the MLLPC.
He added: "My hope is that the characters in the book, Nabil and Nabilah will become an icon and role model for our children to inculcate them with good values as well learn more about the Malay language and culture."
The Reader Series comprises a set of 20 books, with stories that aim to encourage young readers to cultivate a positive disposition towards reading during and beyond their Malay language lessons.
The books, which are based on the life experiences of children in Singapore, will be distributed to all primary schools by September this year.
At the event, the theme song of Nabil Nabilah produced by MLLPC was also launched. There were also 20 exhibition booths featuring the books as well as reading and learning activities facilitated by teacher-authors.
About 800 participants took part in Fiesta Bahasa this year, which featured storytelling sessions by the National Library Board and children's book author Jumaini Ariff, who is also known as Nek Selampit.