Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah (centre) handing over a reading kit to a mother at the maternity ward of the Sarawak General Hospital in Kuching. PIC BY GOH PEI PEI

KUCHING: Reading kits containing specially designed baby books with reading manuals for parents will be given to women who deliver their babies at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here.

State Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said the kits would be distributed under the Reading Seeds programme to promote literacy in the early stages of childhood.

She said the kits were an essential tool for the younger generation to acquire the ability to survive in the digital age.

“We start this programme here (SGH) and will expand it to the other hospitals soon, such as in Sibu, Bintulu and Miri,” she added.

Fatimah handed 70 kits to mothers at the hospital’s maternity ward.

The kit, which contains five books, were created by volunteers, including illustrator Angeline Lim Sueh Hong, graphic designer Chai Yang Fung and teacher Suminah Samsolmoharip.

The programme, she said, was an initiative of the Sarawak State Library in collaboration with SGH and the state Health Department.

“Reading is a way to achieve lifelong learning and this necessary skill should be developed as soon as a child is born,” she said.

“It can boost synapse development and strengthen a child’s vocabulary and boost its confidence.”

Fatimah said it was important for children to develop a passion for reading so that it became a habit as they got older.

“We need to create a reading culture in the community to produce quality and knowledgeable human capital as the state continues to progress,” she said.

Sarawak State Library chief executive officer Rashidah Bolhassan said the project would be ongoing to ensure that Sarawakians became lifelong learners.