Ameena Saiyid

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IPA: What can be done to boost literacy and reading habits? How can we ensure young people feel a love of, and a need for, books?

AS: Well, the literature festivals are one way to create a love for books and reading and they have worked really well. Another is to organize children’s literature festivals and similar events which we do in collaboration with other partners. These are as successful as the Karachi and Islamabad Literature Festivals. Schools bring bus-loads of pupils to these and we entertain them through story-telling, theatre, puppet shows, songs, dance and art all directed towards books, reading, and authors. The idea is to make reading and books fun.

We also organize a weekly programme called ‘Friendship with Books’ where we get a popular musician and actor to read and sing to children and play his guitar. The message of the importance of the reading habit is delivered through such activities. During the summer holidays, we organize programmes for children related to reading; the emphasis throughout is to make such activities enjoyable.

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