When Khalid, an intern from Nanyang Polytechnic assisted with “Make & Play,” a weekly craft programme attended by 10 to 15 children, he noticed volunteers taking a few children aside to read to them. It was the first time he was attending the session and he wondered why. After the session, he learnt from the volunteers that they were there to teach craft and to encourage children to create toys and knick-knacks with their hands but in the process, they realised that many could not read. This disturbed Khalid and at that moment, he decided that he had to do something to improve the situation.
Back at the office, he checked our database and discovered that there were 59 children aged 4 to 6 years old residing at the 3 blocks of flats we were supporting. So, during the past month, he knocked on their doors and invited them to spend some time with us every Thursday learning to read. He secured the support of 11 caregivers who promised to ensure that their child showed up at the reading programme he was starting.
Yesterday, 11 children were greeted by a green dragon whose fire was not in his breath but in his belly. The dragon assured the children that he was not going to burn them but to help them acquire a burning desire to read. “We all want to have fun and when we can read, reading is fun!” the dragon bellowed. Not all the children could read but nonetheless, they had much fun listening to the story of a baby dragon told by a rather friendly and older one.
It is said that children are made readers on the laps of their parents and this is a statement that Khalid resonates with. He is certain that he learnt to read mainly from members of his family, and he recognises that children will be disadvantaged if their parents are unable to read to them. We do not choose the circumstances we were born into, and sometimes they are a trap that we find hard to escape from. Hence, we are deeply heartened that Khalid and many others have chosen to believe that once we learn to read, we will be forever free
Enjoy your week.
It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. – S.I. Hayakawa