Friday, June 30, 2006

Read Singapore!

So how do you build a nation of readers?

It seems to me that Singapore is so much more proactive than Malaysia, where much lip-service is paid to the importance of reading, but little actually happens in the end after everyone has done their hand-wringing bit about the two pages a year are supposed to read. (A myth that gets perpetuated ad-nauseam.)

I was interested to read on Channelnewsasia's website about a great project, now in its second year, called READ! Singapore. Its mission:
... to promote a culture of reading among Singaporeans ... (and) an opportunity to rediscover the joys of reading, by creating a common topic of discussion and conversation amongst the people.
The National Library Board organises a variety of activities and issues downloadable kits for folks wishing to start their own reading groups, which are apparently:
... popping up at the most unlikely places, even among hairstylists and taxi drivers.
This year eight books reflecting the theme Looking In, Looking Out have been chosen for discussion. Two of the books are in English (The Kite Runner, which I'd say is an excellent choice, and Tuesdays with Morrie), two are in Malay, two in Chinese and two in Tamil - so there's something for every language group. (Not to mention the political correctness factor!) The books were selected on the basis of their appeal for readers of different races and ages, and their ability to move readers emotionally. The books also had to be affordable, easy to obtain and easy to read.

More about the project and pictures of the launch on the Rambling Librarian's blog.

Related Post:

Get KL Reading? (27/1/06)


Lydia Teh said...

Sharon, is there a more uptodate statistics than that 2 books or is it pages per year number?

In Honk if you're Malaysian, there's one chapter on how to get Msians to read. Watch out for it.

bibliobibuli said...

Yeah kid ... i'm being facetious.

A survey done in the 80's cam up with that number. a survey in the '90's came up with 2 books a year. Indications are that the actual figure is a lot higher.

But Raman of silverfish is still is adamant that the figure is 2 pages a year, and i heard one of the speakers from the National library say it too!

It kind of got mythologised!!!!!

My point is that there are all these doomsayers shaking their heads about how awful malaysian readers are instead of taking action to create a readership.

glad you are tackling the topic in your book.

Ted Mahsun said...

I think it's wonderful that there are 2 books chosen for each language. If ever there was anything like this campaign launched over here, I bet the best we'd get would be some books in Malay or some books in English and that'll be it. I mean books in Tamil! I don't even know where you can buy them, let alone seen any of my Tamil-speaking (and reading) friends read one!

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you're well enough to blog. Hope you're not doing so from bed! Take care and let me know if you need anything,

Peace out

ufukhati said...

Hopefully "the two pages a year" will not fall down to "one page a year".

In fact I think (or I guess) the amount of pages being read by Malaysians are much higher. The question is : Reading what? Books/newspapers/magazines/other materials on the internet...

Terima kasih.

Chet said...

2 books per year - depending on how thick (or thin) the books are

2 pages per year - depending on size of the page

Really prolific readers have been known to even read the back of their cereal boxes as they eat their breakfast.

I guess there's some good to wrapping nasi lemak in old newspapers? You can read the paper with eating your nasi lemak.

Fadzilah said...

The books in different languages is not a sign of political correctness. Most probably, it's so that all S'poreans will improve two languages - English and their 'mother tongue.' Proficiency in Mandarin is particularly crucial in Singapore education right now, because of economic reasons.

bibliobibuli said...

ufukhati, chet - yes, it is vague indeed and i don't know how it was measured ...

fadzilah - good point, hadn't thought of it that way