Cultivate a love for reading
Miss Denise Tan, of the #BuySingLit campaign working committee, says key to getting children to read is making more books available
How familiar are you with Singapore's literary scene? Do you know what our local literati has produced?
Miss Denise Tan says Singapore literature consists of "micro-fiction, memoirs, short stories, photo books, plays, historical fiction, speculative fiction and children's literature".
Miss Tan, who is part of the #BuySingLit campaign working committee, told The New Paper that many stories are in the four official languages.
#BuySingLit will be held from Friday to Sunday- there will be more than 40 activities in all four languages to promote Singapore literature, or SingLit.
"#BuySingLit was conceived because so few of us can name a Singaporean work. We don't know enough about how much the Singapore literary scene has grown," she said.
Miss Tan, 29, added that "if people are made aware of the quality and breadth of work we have produced here, they'll read more (of it)..."
She also hopes to help the campaign infiltrate schools.
Miss Tan cited access as a challenge to get children to read.
"I think many children are afraid to pick up a book. They'll grudgingly get through a book given to them by teachers.
"Stepping into their school's library or visiting public libraries may be too daunting a task, so how will they know there are high-interest books or books about a specific and appealing subject written for them?
"There are so many books for children, and there is such a variety of styles and reading levels," she said.
"A child who loves graphic novels must be praised as much as a child who completed (reading books from) a list of Newbery award (an American literary award) winners."
Making books accessible to children is one of the reasons Miss Tan cofounded Closetful Of Books, a specialist children's bookseller, three years ago.
"The main part of our business is visiting schools and setting up book fairs.
"We are in school canteens and they cannot avoid perusing our books since our varied display is in their faces for two days during recess periods," Miss Tan said, adding that she curates the book collection and makes it a point to read every book they sell.
Children, she said, must be given the chance to read for fun and they must be given a variety of stories to choose from.
Said Miss Tan: "A lot of us were subjected to boring and outdated books in school that tell of characters and topics that we cannot connect with, and that has put us off reading for too long."
She said her business partner, Mr Kelvin Ng, remembers reading just one book during his four years in secondary school.
"He only remembers it because it was so painful to get through. Now, he gets his literary fix from picture books."
Miss Tan stressed it is never too late to cultivate a child's reading habit, and #BuySingLit is a "wonderful way to start".
She said: "There are people from all facets of the literary community in the working committee, and we have been able to champion a slew of activities for readers and non-readers, for children and adults."
Miss Tan suggested having more contemporary local literature in schools, not just in secondary and tertiary institutions.
She said: "Stories about our world (Singapore) need to be read by all children, and it needs to be invasive - every child must have access to it."