Sunday, April 22, 2007

Little Books with a Big Mission

My article about World Book Day and how we get to celebrate it twice in Malaysia is in StarMag today. I have to tell you that it was written in record time (for me, anyway! Had to pretend to myself I was writing a blog entry between first and second cups of tea!)

Anyway, the article allowed me to do a little bit of tub-thumping over a couple of issues close to my heart - reading campaigns and books for marginal readers.

The Quick Reads series I mention in the article is I think a very exciting innovation - short, exciting reads by top writers, which are accessible to those who might find a longer book a bit of a struggle. They are not in any sense simplified readers and there is nothing dumbed down about them. This I think is a very important point.

New titles have just been released in conjunction with World Book Day 2007 including Lily by Adele Geras, Twenty Tales from the War Zone by John Simpson, Dr Who: Made of Steel by Terrance Dicks, The Sun Book of Short Stories and the delightfully titled Reading: My Arse! a novel by Ricky Thomlinson. The series is also supported by extensive resource material.

I have seen the books in Times in Bangsar Shopping Complex, but they were just mixed in with everything else. Other bookstores seem to sadly have missed the boat. (I have, though, ordered the whole set for the British Council Library and feel they will be ideal for the language learners who use the resources there.)

I reckon that if Britain has almost a fifth of the population who are sub-literate, Malaysia is likely to have a much higher proportion. You can't simply issue a government directive and tell people that they should read books. Many people can't read books!

But perhaps they can be lead to reading books if the stepping stones are put in place for them.

The simple equation is this: if a marginal reader picks up a little book that they can finish without too much of a struggle, and has a very enjoyable reading experience, they will be looking to repeat the experience.

Anyway, it's World Book Day tomorrow, so why not buy a book for a close friend as a gift and present it with a red rose?

13 comments:

Azmi said...

Hi Sharon, I happily share your idea of using books as gifts for friends! During the recent KLILF, I o'd on book purchases so that I could get them authors to inscribe something to the friends who would be receiving them in the next couple of months!Now I learn Kinokuniya is giving 25% dicounts on all titles in their Lit/Fic section...aiyaa!

sympozium said...

Lovely article! Btw 23 April is also Nabokov's birthday in 1899 in Russia...

Jane Sunshine said...

There are lots of great novellas around which I sometimes reach out for a quick read. Last weekend, I sat in a park and finished in two hours Banana Yoshimoto's v.interesting Kitchen. Short story collections work very well as well.

bibliobibuli said...

very true jane. but sometimes folks don't know what is accessible without a little guidance and signposting.

i love "kitchen"

sunset_at_dawn said...

nice article! btw, do you happen to know the best places to get book vouchers? i think they make excellent gifts, but not sure whr to get any. appreciate the help =]

Chet said...

Ooo, I love Kitchen, too.

bibliobibuli said...

sunset - mph has book vouchers and so does kinokuniya. not sure about times though.

Chet said...

Borders, too. They also have electronic book cards that can be topped up.

gRaCe said...

chet,
electronic book cards? sounds interesting..how do they work? like touch & go?

Chet said...

Grace! I don't have one, so I dunno how they work, but I don't think you can swipe them at a touch n go point, lah.

bibliobibuli said...

you put credit on a card which the recipient uses in lieu of money

like a voucher but electronic, and you can choose a pretty card

Chet said...

I think such cards will be more sale-able if the pictures can be customised and you are allowed to choose your favourite book cover to go on it.

Anonymous said...

Why not ? let's see :

(1) They're expensive. Roses are cheaper, but red roses _and_ a book ?

(2) No close friends

Hey, why not write a book for a close friend as a gift ? nothing says you care more than something handmade. Or a letter even, doesn't even have to be a book.

Do you need to buy something to show you care ?