I've appended the official press release below for reference. The official site for READ! Singapore is readsingapore.nlb.gov.sg. Updates and blog posts would be featured over at the book blog, High Browse Online (www.nlb.gov.sg/highbrowseonline).
While posting an update at High Browse Online the night before the launch, I was delighted to learn that some enterprising readers have started a bookclub in support of this year's READ! Singapore. Check out their blog at Bookish Clubbers.
I'll be posting more updates on READ! Singapore in the next few posts, as it'll be something that will occupy me (and my Public Library Service colleagues) for the duration of the event. BTW, I'm just a bit player in this nationwide event, in case you're wondering.
There's really a lot to talk about for this year's events. For one, I'm pretty sure the English book selection would go down well with Adults and older teens -- "Kite Runner" and "Tuesdays With Morrie".
We've got a few Online Book Chats lined up. Any overseas libraries interested?
This year is also special because the selected Singapore Short Stories have each been translated into the other official languages. I'll blog more about this later.
Here's the official press release:
Hairstylists and beauticians among the 32 new reading clubs formed READ! First-ever launch of translated local short stories will cross-community reading and discussions
Singapore, 25 May 2006 - The READ! Singapore campaign was launched today at the Woodlands Regional Library by the Guest-of-Honour, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen. The campaign will end 10 weeks later on 5 August 06. Into its second year, READ! Singapore, carries on from where it left off last year - to not only engage Singaporeans in a journey of discovery and reflection through an appreciation of literature but also to step back and take an analytical look into themselves and their society, and thereafter have the openness to embrace the differences around them.
READ! Singapore saw an increase in the number of reading clubs set up by the National Library Board (NLB) from six in 2005 to a total of 38 in 2006. The initiative, last year, led to the birth of a taxi driver's reading club, the Taxi Sifu Reading Club, which has an average attendance of 40 at every meeting. With the continued challenge to ensure that everyone in society continually upgrade themselves, READ! Singapore 2006 has now brought in the beauty industry, namely the hairdressers and beauticians, and has seen encouraging results in getting these workers to pick up a READ! Singapore book, and read and discuss it with their peers. This community effort has seen the formation of new reading clubs at hairstyling chains such as Kimage and Jean Yip Hairdressing, as well as at Dania, a beauty salon, whose members will meet regularly to discuss their thoughts and feelings arising from reading the books.
To facilitate community bonding and shared experiences through reading the same books, four of the selected 12 titles are short stories which have been translated into the other three official languages respectively and published by NLB. This is NLB's first effort in adopting the role of translator and publisher. Through these short stories, entitled "Looking In, Looking Out", which is also the theme of their year's READ! Singapore, NLB hopes to create opportunities for knowledge transfer and community bonding, especially as people will have an opportunity to read the same titles across communities and later on, form book clubs and discussions with friends from different communities.
Complementing works by Singapore writers such as Tan Hwee Hwee, Noor Hasnah Adam, Ai Yu and Puthumaithasan, are acclaimed books by international and well-known writers such as Mitch Albom, Anwar Ridhwan and Ashokamitran.
Said Professor Tommy Koh, Patron of READ! Singapore, "Last year's READ! Singapore was a great success. Citizens of all ages and from all walks of life actively participated in the festival. Book clubs and book circles were formed. Through the discussions, we gained from one another's insights and interpretations. It made reading a book a much more pleasurable, social and educational experience. The joy of reading is one of the greatest joys of my life. I am very happy to see that Singaporeans have become a book-loving and book-reading people. This is one of the hallmarks of a civilised society."
Singaporeans can also expect to see their politicians and media personalities get into the reading act. Said Mrs Amy Khor, Mayor for South West CDC and Reading Ambassador, "As always, I am very excited to be part of READ! Singapore as reading is something very dear to my heart. I hope more Singaporeans will set aside some time from their busy schedule to pick up a book and read. It's absolutely therapeutic and good for the soul!"
Throughout this year's campaign, there will be many book-based activities from reading clubs conducting book discussions, meet-the-author sessions, dramatisations among others. Some programmes that Singaporeans can look forward to include the Reading Fiesta on 3 June 2006 at the National Library with activities on reading and booths showcasing selected stories from the four languages, a print-to-screen collaboration with Canon Digital Video Fest '06, Chinese SMS contest, where the public can SMS their comments and thoughts on the three Chinese books and the fun-filled family event of Kite Runners @West Coast Park, themed to one of the books, 'Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini. Please refer to attached fact sheet and programme booklet for details.
More information about READ! Singapore, its programmes and resource kits for starting book clubs can be found at the READ! Singapore website - http://readsingapore.nlb.gov.sg