Born to Read, Read to Bond programme

The Born to Read, Read to Bond programme aimed to promote reading from young and deepen family ties by increasing parent-child bonding. The programme, introduced by the National Library Board on 27 November 2001, was designed for newly born children to children up to three years old.1

The project came about through the collaborative efforts of the then Ministry of Community Development and Sports (MCDS) and the National Library Board (NLB).2 Statistics revealed that while children borrowed the most number of library books, they formed only 16% of NLB’s 1.84 million member base. Parents were often using their own borrowing quota to borrow more books for their children.3

The rationale behind the programme came from research showing that a child starts learning from birth. Books help babies develop visual understanding as well as the ability to pick up details. Children also learn most actively from birth to five years of age.4

A free programme, Born to Read, Read to Born, was thus designed to meet the specific needs of children. Besides allowing children as young as a day old to register as independent library members, the programme encouraged parents to spend quality time with their children by reading books aloud to them and helping them borrow books.5

At the launch of the programme in 2001, a total of nine hospitals had joined the project.Private organisations, together with the NLB and MCDS, managed to raise S$1 million in cash and in kind towards the year-long programme.7

Under the programme, parents of newborn babies in nine participating hospitals, including KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Thomson Medical Centre, received kits containing items such as parenting tips, nursery rhymes, a library guide, a list of recommended titles and registration forms for library membership. Children up to three years old who are library members would receive a special membership card and a goodie bag. By mid-2002, about 26,000 packs had been distributed and 12,000 infants were registered as new members.8 The number of new young members reached 28,000 in the programme’s second year.9 In 2007, to encourage lifelong reading among new parents and parents-to-be, a parenting journal was also included in the kit.10

Programme Activities
The programme also offered reading and bonding activities in which parents and children could participate. Parents who registered their children as members were eligible to join the Read-N-Bond Parents Group and attend parenting talks, while children could take part in Read to Me programmes.11 A reading forum, known as Read to Bond, was organised on 15 March 2003 in conjunction with the programme to promote early literacy.12

Other events included the Raise a Reader series of workshops that discusses how to create a conducive reading environment for children at home, and the Born to Read fiesta held at the Atrium@Orchard on 18 and 19 September 2003. Two other reading programmes, Reading Cub and Reading Bear, also reached out to children from newborns to six and seven to 12 respectively.13

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

1. “Read from Young,” New Paper, 28 November 2001, 5; “Baby and Pouch,” Today, 22 August 2002, 28. (From NewspaperSG)
2. National Library Board, Singapore, Annual Report 2002/2003 (Singapore: National Library Board, 2002)
3. Elaine Young, “Bonding By Reading,” Straits Times, 21 February 2007, 70. (From NewspaperSG)
4. Tee Hun Ching, “Never Too Young,” Straits Times, 23 July 2002, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
5. “Be a Library Member from the Cradle,” Straits Times, 28 November 2001, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
6. Tee, “Never Too Young”; “Be a Library Member from the Cradle.”
7. Ngian Lek Choh, “Public Libraries in Singapore International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions,” 2001–2002, 4.
8. “Be a Library Member from the Cradle”; “Baby and Pouch”; Tee, “Never Too Young.”
9. National Library Board, Singapore, Annual Report 2002/2003.
10. Young, “Bonding By Reading.” 
11. “Baby and Pouch”; Tee, “Never Too Young.”
12. “Read from Young.”
13. National Library Board, Singapore, Annual Report 2004/2005 (Singapore: National Library Board, 2004)

Further resources
“Binding Ties By Reading Together,” Challenge (March 2002), 17. (Call no. RSING 354.595700147 C)

June Gwee and B. S. Neo, “A Library for the People: A Case Study of the National Library Board,” accessed 9 March 2016.

The information in this article is valid as of September 2018 and correct as far as we able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


National campaigns
Library outreach programs--Singapore
Parenting--Study and teaching--Singapore