THOUGH they enjoy playing electronic games, Liow Li Shyan and Liow Yu Shyan are unlike most of their peers, as the sisters also enjoy reading and volunteering with the Subang Jaya Book Exchange Programme (SJBEP).
Along with their parents Kelvin Liow and Kristen Yeoh, Li Shyan, 10, and Yu Shyan, eight, have been regular volunteers with SJBEP for about two years.
The girls’ duties include sorting and arranging books, stamping, helping with the refreshments and cleaning up.
Liow said: “We wanted to encourage our daughters to read and start them young on volunteering, and SJBEP was a platform that combined both.
“Since they started volunteering, we noticed that the girls are more responsible and comfortable when interacting with adults.”
Yu Shyan said she enjoyed reading the Geronimo Stilton series, while Li Shyan has read the entire Harry Potter collection.
“Between the two of them, they have read about 20 books since joining SJBEP,” said Yeoh.
“Besides the positive influence, SJBEP is an inexpensive way to encourage them to read more books at their own pace.”
SJBEP recently hosted an event to mark the launch of its new permanent home at a cabin located at Jalan USJ 12/2F, Subang Jaya.
The project was initiated by a group of residents from Subang Jaya and USJ to exchange and share books, and to promote the reading habit.
SJBEP offers an avenue for those who have unwanted books to exchange them for other books for free.
The programme that began in 2009 previously held its book exchange sessions along a five-foot way, before then Subang Jaya municipal councillor R. Rajiv acquired space for them at the USJ2 Community Hall.
However, as the hall was shared with other groups for various community events, the books had to be packed in boxes and transported in and out of the storage room during each exchange session.
The cabin that SJBEP now occupies was previously a dilapidated unit used by drug addicts, but was given a make-over for its present use.
The makeover was courtesy of Zone 3 JKP of MPSJ, which gave RM16,000 for the renovation, and Subang Jaya assemblyman Hannah Yeoh, whose office contributed RM4,000 to furnish the cabin.
Yeoh, who launched the event, said SJBEP provides a platform to encourage children to cultivate a love for books.
“The programme also uses a good partnership model that involves volunteers and residents in their community.
“I hope children in Subang Jaya will make good use of SJBEP, and parents will take the opportunity to introduce their children to books.
“I also urge the community to keep an eye out for the security of the cabin, as there had been an attempt to break into the unit,” she said, adding that people should not abuse the programme by simply dumping old books here.
SJBEP coordinator Yong Sheet Fay said the bulk of SJBEP’s book collection was English fiction.
There are smaller sections offering children English non-fiction and Malay books.
“We accept books that are in good condition and in all languages,” said Yong.
“We also welcome more volunteers to enable us to run the programme more frequently, compared to its present twice-monthly schedule.”
The launch included an interactive storytelling session by FuziMagic and a sale of crafts by children from Persatuan Kebajikan Kanak-Kanak Kurang Upaya Subang Jaya.
The book exchange is held on the first and third Sunday of the month, from 3pm to 5pm.
For details, visit facebook.com/sjusjbep