National Reading Day is one of the most important events as it aims to promote reading culture to locals. As per tradition for the past five years, the annual celebration takes place on March 11.
In Cambodia, the culture of reading seems to have declined after the Khmer Rouge genocide. The devastating effects of the tragedy include deaths of scholars, elimination of important reading documents and closure of educational institutes.
After the dark days are over, most people are forced to abandon dreams of pursuing education as they had to focus on putting food on the table. The mission was merely to survive, leaving all academic pursuit behind.
This draws a sad image for Cambodia’s education landscape and subsequently, this affects the quality of the youth’s future.
However, for the past six years, the government has worked hard to reform the entire education system by putting more emphasis on reading as a culture. This is done through multiple initiatives such as the National Reading Day and Cambodia Book Fair.
This year, the celebration took place at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia and it also coincided with the birthday of legendary figure Chuon Nath, who was the former head monk and the founder of the official Khmer dictionary dubbed the Chuon Nath Dictionary.
As Cambodia welcomes the fifth edition of the campaign, the commemoration this year came with more improvements and saw a bigger celebration than the previous years.
For book enthusiasts, Reading Day is not only a platform to find good reading materials, it is also about engaging with other to propagate the love for reading.
The organising committees, for instance, have created a special workshop to promote early reading where parents and children are invited. The experts, consisting of seasoned teachers from the Education Ministry, shared useful tips to encourage this healthy habit while playing fun games like trivia.
Meanwhile, the event also hosted a concert to attract adult readers in the Kingdom.
Today, changes are abound. It can be observed that more and more young people start to feel proud when they read. They start to figure out that reading is a way to change their lives as the knowledge sets them on the right path towards achieving their goals.
For others, reading is a leisure activity that can keep them focused and shake them out of their daily blues – or in some cases, even depression.
At the Reading Day’s Book Fair, many people from all across the age groups made some time to check out heavily discounted books by their favourite writers. The slash-downs are highly appealing to young adults as it makes good books affordable.
Before purchasing a book, the reader usually spends a few minutes going through the content, to see the cover and check the reviews – some important steps to ensure you get the right book.
For both children and parents, there are many activities that can spur interest for reading. The designated space at the Book Fair was also meant to cater to parent readers as their children play freely in their vicinity. In addition, many youth volunteers were there to support visitors who want to discover the many benefits of reading.
For publishers and writers, the celebration created a connection between them and readers. It is a golden chance to promote their books and achievements. To date, many new publishing houses and writers are slowly emerging in the country as Cambodians pick up the pace on reading.
The fact is, despite the innovative technology and social media influences, a Book Fair is still the best way for book producers to promote their crafts in the context in Cambodia. This contributes to why the National Reading Day is an important event across the board.
For youth volunteers, it’s another great platform for them to learn and experience how to organise a successful event. From booth arrangement to space decoration and security guide, everything was orchestrated by the volunteers themselves. It is that important time of the year for them to meet more friends and learn about crowd management.
On top of that, the National Reading Day also hosted a few contests related to reading with many great prizes, including one that sought for Khmer language talents. This year, the event also featured poem recital as an effort to bridge literature fans with the local poets.
The Book Fair, which is a part of the National Reading Day, was a three-day event at ITC and was held last weekend, ahead of the March 11 main event. In spite of the 50 percent decrease in visitors compared to last year, the Book Fair still managed to rake in some 30,000 visitors – a good sign of progress on the reading culture.