PM Lee Hsien Loong at Kidsread’s 10th Anniversary at AMK Public Library
Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at Kidsread’s 10th Anniversary on 4 October 2014 at Ang Mo Kio Public Library.
Minister Yaacob Ibrahim,
Ms Yeoh Chee Yan, Chairman of the National Library Board (NLB)
Volunteers, parents, boys and girls
Good morning to all of you. Very happy to be here this morning in the Ang Mo Kio Library for the 10th anniversary of kidsREAD. You saw the video just now. That was a picture of me looking a little bit younger, a little less grey hair ten years ago, with Minister Yaacob also similarly launching kidsREAD. I think it was at Woodlands Community Library.
Dr Yaacob had suggested that NLB work with self-help groups to create a nation-wide reading programme for children from less privileged families, to help them learn to read because their parents may not be able to read to them. So Mrs Kiang Lai Lin, who was then Director of Programme Development in NLB, saw a great need for this and she took up the suggestion eagerly and together with the self-help groups, and PA, NLB launched kidsREAD.
The goal at the beginning was modest – just 2,000 children in three years. And over the last 10 years in fact we have succeeded beyond expectations. We have benefitted 27,000 students through more than 1,000 kidsREAD clubs over the last ten years. And from next year, kidsREAD will reach even more children because we will extend the programme to children from families with a gross monthly household income of up to $6,000, which is a higher limit because that limit now is only $3,500.
KidsREAD has been a great success because NLB has been passionate and enthusiastic doing this and I particularly like to thank Mrs Kiang Lai Lin and her volunteers. Where is Mrs Kiang, I think she was downstairs? Take a bow! Everytime I see her she says kidsREAD. But I would also like to thank the partners and volunteers who have contributed their time. It is not easy to spend three hours a week for reading sessions, and not just the three hours reading but also planning the reading beforehand. I am glad that we have volunteers from all walks of life, and from all ages, from 11 years old to 71 years old. And over the last decade we have had more than 9,000 volunteers take part in the programme so congratulations!
In Singapore, we want our children to have the best possible start in life. That is why we take education very seriously. We invest heavily in it, starting at pre-school. And when the child is young, one of the best gift we can give the child is the gift of reading. So to the boys and girls here: I hope you enjoy reading! When I was a little boy, my mother used to read stories to me and one of my favourite books was “The Story of Ping” – who was little duck on the Yangtze River. When we launched the kidsREAD programme ten years ago, I read “The Story of Ping” with the little kids. As I read with my mother, or as my mother read to me, soon I began to learn to read. One day, I brought the book to my mother and said, “Please can you read mama, read me this story again?” She said, “You go and read it yourself. You know how to read now.” I think some of you may be reaching that point and I think you will enjoy reading a lot when you can do it on your own too. When I had children of my own, and they were young, I also used to read to them. I hope at home you have older siblings or your parents when they can, they also read with you. Because many of the older kor-kors and jie-jies who have joined kidsREAD are reading a lot of books and enjoying themselves. For example Saajidah Yusro bte Abdul, who attended kidsREAD every week with her mother and has grown to love books. Is Saajidah down here? Thank you!
We have a chance to read a story book together later. I had choice of what storybook to read and looked through a few and had a chance to read a few storybooks at work and I chose a nice one, “Go to sleep, Gecko!” If you know the story, please keep the secret to yourself. I enjoyed reading it the first time, the second time and I think we will have a lot of fun reading it together later. Congratulations once again to kidsRead and to all the boys and girls here, I hope you will continue to give and to enjoy the gift of reading to many more kids for many years to come.
Thank you very much.
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