The government and private sector work together to promote reading
The introduction of Libraries of Love solved many problems people had with regard to reading. By checking out books from the Libraries, people living in remote areas have convenient access to more books. By exchanging books between the Libraries, children are able to read more and come into contact with a wider world.
In the last few years, the Ministry of Education has been strongly encouraging people to read in an effort to help children form good reading habits. From 2001 to 2003, the Ministry introduced the National Children Reading Program. Beginning 2004, it started implementing the Focus 300 Primary Schoolchildren Reading Program in primary schools attended by disadvantaged children. Starting 2006, the Ministry began carrying out a program to promote reading among junior high school students in remote areas. It invested $100 million in 2007 and $200 million in 2008 in books to help primary and junior high schools across the country improve their reading environment.
The private sector has contributed even more to promoting reading. The Foundation for the Promotion of Reading in April 2005 established the first Library of Love in Nantou. Since then, 81 Libraries of Love have been established in 19 cities and counties across the country, including remote areas such as Hualian and Mazu.
Libraries of Love
Based on a concept similar to that of regular libraries, the first Library of Love was established in Hushan Primary School, Nantou under the auspices of the 921 Earthquake Relief Foundation. In the beginning, there were only 4,000 books available for teachers to borrow. With the sponsorship of businesses, The Foundation for the Promotion of Reading was formed. To date, 81 Libraries of Love have been established in 19 cities and counties across the country, housing over 270,000 books. More than 48,500 people have registered as members and checked out over 5.8 million books. Meanwhile, the number of books is increasing.
Libraries of Love have been successively established across the country. Teachers can borrow wonderful books from the Libraries and share them with students. Books in different Libraries of Love are moved from one Library to another periodically so that everyone might enjoy them.
Teachers and students read together
Reading can stimulate children's mental faculties such as association and imagination. If teachers can apply the content of books to children's daily lives and discuss it with them, rather than lecturing children in the classroom or testing them, children should be able to learn better.
Reading is an important ability. The amount of effort teachers make to encourage reading affects the way they teach. When Libraries of Love had just been established, they aimed to attract only 10% of teachers to borrow books. It turned out about three out of ten teachers borrowed books, with more and more teachers borrowing as time progresses. Unlike before, when teachers took students to the library and let them read by themselves, teachers now borrow books from the library, and read and discuss the books with students. Teachers encourage students to understand the books better, share their ideas with others, and stimulate their imaginations.
As well as establishing Libraries of Love, The Foundation for the Promotion of Reading holds workshops to provide teachers with the opportunity to improve their teaching skills, and prepares learning and teaching aids for each book. The Foundation also urges teachers to encourage children to write, perform dramas, discuss, and develop other abilities.
After a long period of training, children see a great change in their reading habits. They used to flip through books rather than read them when they were taken to the library. Now they choose a book they like and sit and read quietly until they finish it. This is the long-term effect of reading.
Reading should be a lifelong habit. Training children to formreading habits is one of the Ministry's top priorities. The Ministry is thankful for the contribution the private sector has made to promote reading. In the future, apart from government funding and administrative assistance, the Ministry hopes the government and private sector can continue to work together to set up Libraries of Love in every village and town throughout the country.
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