Book fairs: Using exhibitions to enhance reading and writing culture – The New Times

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Children’s books publishers say that the culture of reading and writing is set to get a boost if children’s book exhibitions are strengthened.
 From September 27 to October 1 this year, there is an ongoing children’s book fair that has attracted 14 publishers at Kigali’s Public Library located in Kacyiru sector, Kigali City.
Isae Micomyiza, Head of Rwanda Children’s Books Organization, says that it is an opportunity for publishers to even exhibit newly published children’s books.
“We are working together to ensure publishers issue quality books and help them get the market for them. The collaboration with libraries will help to enhance the culture of reading and writing among children,” he says.

Children read books at the fair.
He adds that the best published children’s books will be awarded. These include the best children’s book, the book with outstanding illustration, and the book with outstanding design.
He says that the publishers are still facing challenges to get to the market due to low reading culture and parents’ poor mind-set.
“The reading culture is still very low. Today the main challenge is that books are published, but there are very few sellers of books and most are based in Kigali. Normally, publishers should not be the ones to sell books. There must be sellers of books as another chain,” he says.

An exhibitor explains the content of a book to children at the fair in Kacyiru. 
Micomyiza also says that the book fair benefits publishers, children and parents, as well as people who are interested in book selling.
Sylvain Mudahinyuka, the acting managing director of Kigali’s Public Library, says that the library is offering space for book fairs so as to stimulate the culture of writing and reading.
He says that the library houses over 56,000 books that are physically accessible and about 800 digital books.
“We have also allowed digital books in other libraries including international libraries as a way of collaboration,” he says.

Some of the books exhibited. Publishers say there are still very few book sellers in the country.
Mudahinyuka adds that exhibiting books and giving them space in libraries will also attract buyers and those who seek to invest in book selling.
“We have to prepare our kids very early to stimulate their interest in reading. This will address challenges where publishers’ books are not accessing the market. We are going to dedicate a space for more children’s books publishers at the library so that those who come to read can also be interested in buying the books,” he says.
Only nine per cent of parents read a story to a child, according to data by Save the Children, and three per cent of the children have at least read a Kinyarwanda storybook.
75 per cent of the parents point to the scarcity of children storybooks as one of the major challenges.
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