Speech by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, at the Launch of National Reading Movement at Read! Fest 2016, on 3 June 2016

Mr Chan Heng Kee, Chairman of the National Library Board

Mrs Elaine Ng, Chief Executive Officer of the National Library Board

Distinguished guests,

NLB volunteers,

1 Good morning. I am happy to join you today at Read! Fest 2016. Thank you Dylan for your sharing.  It is inspiring that you and your father worked on The Big Red Dot together.  Yours is a good example of how books bring people together to learn and share ideas.

2 We all read for many different reasons.  In March, I attended an SGfuture session with other Singaporeans on the topic of promoting reading as a tool for learning.  We asked a simple question – “Why do I read?” Some shared that they read to de-stress or to shorten travel and waiting times; others shared that they read to explore different worlds and perspectives.

3        Today, we are launching the National Reading Movement, to encourage everyone to “Read More, Read Widely and Read Together”.  What do these mean for us?

Read More

4 First, to ‘Read More’ means to dedicate time to read both for leisure as well as for learning.

5 Last year, when avid reader Ms Nicole Kang, realised that she had not been reading enough since she started working full-time as a teacher, she made a resolution to read more. Nicole started by reading on her daily commute and setting aside just 15 minutes to read every night before bed. In 2015, she managed to read a total of 40 books. That’s almost one book a week!

6 Dedicating some time to read in our week can go a long way, and now with e-books and audiobooks, bringing our reading on the go is easier than ever.

7 Nicole gained a lot from making that personal commitment to read more. Along the way, she read and discovered new ideas and knowledge through a wide range of genres from graphic novels to poetry and science fiction. This brings me to the next point, ‘Read Widely’.

Read Widely

8 Reading widely is about reading and learning beyond the topics and perspectives that we usually choose to read.  By expanding the range of what we read, we have a chance to step into someone else’s shoes, and learn about our world through other points of view. We also get to learn about different topics that could benefit us in the most unexpected ways.

9 Take 4 year-old Sin Jun, for instance.  Reading in Chinese, his Mother Tongue, opened up a world of different stories and ideas, and new channels of communication. Sin Jun and his mother Mdm Ong were introduced to the Little Avid Readers reading club at Bishan Public Library, where Sin Jun first picked up reading in Chinese through fun activities and parent-child reading sessions. Sin Jun discovered new stories, cultures and legends that he wasn’t exposed to in his English books.  Now, he takes the initiative to choose from a wider range of books, absorbing new ideas that enrich his thinking.  Mdm Ong also shared that Sin Jun used to think of Chinese as a language of the older generation! Now, the language has become a new means of communication for him with both adults and new friends his age who are more used to conversing in Mandarin.

Read Together

10 We also want to encourage everyone to go beyond independent reading. Reading together allows us to learn from and encourage each other while sharing in the joy of reading.

11 As someone once said, “No two persons ever read the same book.”  The same book can mean many different things to different people. We all bring our own experiences and knowledge to the books that we read, and take away new ideas that are worth sharing with each other. 

12 The seniors of ‘The Next Chapter’ reading club at Yishun Public Library are great role models in staying active and reading together as a community. Ms Hasanah Mohamed Sohdi started the book club for seniors in her community to get together and exchange their thoughts on topics that concern them such as health, retirement and active living.  Hasanah said that the book club has brought more dimension to her thinking and enriched her life.  She has expanded her perspective on many topics and bonded with a community of fellow readers and new friends by reading together and discussing their ideas.

13 I am encouraged by readers like Nicole, Sin Jun and Hasanah who are actively making a commitment to read more and read widely, and sharing their joy for reading with others in their community. Reading more, reading widely and reading together enriches our lives and is something we can all do.


14 Each and every one of us has a part to play in making the National Reading Movement a truly national one. I am encouraged that organisations like NEXUS, UniSIM, DP Architects, ASME and SINDA have come on-board to support the Movement in different ways such as bringing reading to their staff and students or partnering us in programmes such as curated reads and the National Reading Day.

Pledging Campaign

15 To launch the National Reading Movement, we are starting a pledging campaign for all of us to make a commitment to read more, read widely and read together in the 2 months leading up to National Reading Day.

16 I will also do my part to promote this campaign by pledging to read more and widely. But given my position I better not make any definitive promises. I will do my best.  


17 Let me now challenge you to come forward and join me in the National Reading Movement.  Take up the challenge!  Help cultivate reading as a habit for ourselves, and our children.

18  I wish you an enriching season of new joys and discoveries through reading!

Thank you.