Sunday November 9, 2008
United, we read ...
By ALYCIA LIM
A CHILD in Malaysia reads an average of two books a year. According to Social Welfare Department deputy director-general Halijah Yahya, this may be because many children associate reading with educational books, which can be boring for some people.
To encourage young people to read, Scholastic Malaysia recently organised the Scholastic’s Read2008: One Nation Reading Together event, where students from primary and secondary schools throughout the nation read for 2,008 seconds. For every student who participated in the event, a book was donated to the less privileged.
Scholastic Malaysia general manager Selina Lee said that reading opens doors and minds.
“To give a child a book is to arm him for any challenges that he may face in the future,” said Lee, at the launch of the event.
According to Lee, the response to the programme was better than expected.
“We only expected 10,000 children to participate in the event but the response has been overwhelming,” she said.
True to its promise, the event which drew 39,036 participants, saw Scholastic donating a total of 39,036 books to 34 children’s homes and institutions throughout the nation.
Present at the launch were Malaysian celebrities like director, actress and producer Ida Nerina, Miss Malaysia/World 2007 Deborah Henry, director and producer Low Ngai Yuen, and Malaysian Child Reforce Institute governor Ruth Liew.
“I enjoy reading books about teenagers,” said Siti Aishah Zainal Abidin, a Year Six pupil from SK Putrajaya Presinct 8 (1) who participated by reading The Wind in the Willows.
“I love to read: I usually do so outside school hours,” she said.
Another book lover is her schoolmate, Faiqah Nelli Mohamad Fauzi, who said that she often goes to the school library to read during recess.
Although it was held for the first time in Malaysia, Read2008 is not new.
“It first started in the United States in the year 2000, where the wife of the governor in every state will read and Scholastic will donate books to a school of her choice,” said Lee.
However, to make it more meaningful, Scholastic Malaysia decided to donate the books to the less privileged in homes and institutions, based on the institution’s size and need.
“The books that will be given out will be interesting ones, with lots of pictures,” said Halijah, adding that training sessions will be held for the staff in the homes so that they can guide the children in their reading.
“Very few schools actually allocate time for recreational reading. Many students leave school without a love for reading because they have only read textbooks, which is a different thing altogether.
“By getting them to read books of their choice, we hope to send out the message that reading can be fun,” she added.
A similar event will be held next year, with the children reading for 2,009 seconds instead.