State wants to promote literacy and reading from an early age

Rashidah (seated centre) showing learning materials under its Reading Seeds programme to Fatimah (right)

KUCHING: Parents at govern­ment hospitals and clinics through­out Sarawak will receive special reading kits for their newborns.

The free distribution, courtesy of the Sarawak State Library in collaboration with the state Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Develop­ment Ministry, starts in May.

Sarawak State Library chief executive officer Rashidah Bolhassan said the kits were to promote early literacy and the reading culture among children.

It will include reading materials and playing blocks to stimulate their senses and cognitive development.

The ministry will also be giving out a home childcare manual to parents.

The programme is aimed at encouraging parents to read aloud to their babies to immerse them in the sounds and rhythms of speech, which is crucial for language development, as well as focus their eyes on patterns, shapes and colours, said Rashidah.

“Reading is an important skill that should be developed as soon as a child is born,” she told reporters after paying a courtesy visit to minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah at her office here.

The pilot project is targeting to distribute 6,000 reading kits annually over three years.

Each kit also comes with a membership form for the nearest public library as part of the initiative to encourage children to continue reading as they grow older.

“The content and illustrations for these books are developed by Sarawakians.

“The kit includes reading materials in English and Bahasa Malaysia,” said Rashidah.

The library will carry out workshops to train nurses who in turn will guide parents on how to use the kits.

Fatimah lauded the programme, saying that development of reading skills will have a lifelong impact and produce quality human capital.

“The Reading Seeds is a continuation of the Born to Read campaign implemented by the Sarawak State Library in 2004.

“This time, parents are given reading materials and guidelines to monitor their child’s progress,” said Fatimah.

She added that the kits will make quality learning materials accessible to rural parents (without access to libraries) and low-income families.

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