Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Indonesia Celebrates World Book Day 2007

April 23 seemed to be an important day for literature as it related to the date of death or birth of certain known authors such as Cervantes, Shakespeare, and Garcilaso de la Vega. In 1995 UNESCO decided to honor the day as the World Book Day.

The tradition to give books on this day, formerly known as the celebration of Saint George’s day in Catalonia, was started in 1925 when Catalonian women give books in return to the roses they received.

To promote literacy Indonesia had its National Book Day and Library Visit Day, along with frequent book fairs for nation. Since 2006, Indonesia tried to participate in an international ambience by celebrating the World Book Day. Organized by Forum Indonesia Membaca (Indonesia Reads Forum) the event got a good response from Indonesian people. This year the celebration slogan is “Book for Changes”, to promote reading various books to the Indonesian people. The first day of celebration, April 26, it focused on children and the youth by stating that “today’s readers are tomorrow’s leader”

Analyzing Indonesian verbal culture and the regional dialect alphabets is one of the talk show performed in the second day on the theme “Back from the Past”.

On Saturday, the third day, the theme is “Reading for Recreation”. A lot of interesting talk shows are performed during the day. Some are really nice like “Reading Aloud” and the launch of the translated book of “How to Read a Book” and the upcoming translation of “Writing Without Teacher”.

The last day is dedicated to the Reading Community by giving the chance to see the growth of reading community in Indonesia. There will be a reunion for literacy mailing lists in a talk show with their moderators as speakers. Other grown community is the Indonesian fan of Harry Potter in the Indo Harry Potter group. They will also perform a talk show by presenting the translator, a journalist, and the moderator of Indo Harry Potter as the speakers.

Reading Aloud

I had the chance to attend the talk show titled “Reading Aloud”. Presented by Rito Triumbarto, the host from Forum Indonesia Membaca, and Walter Brownsword, a man dedicated himself to education. Brownsword read aloud a story in a way that made his audiences feel involved in the story. He also told the audience how her mother was touched when she heard him reading aloud her diary. She was written about the day she met her future husband (Brownsword’s dad), and having his son read it aloud in her old days was something that touched her. So reading aloud is not limited to the children audiences. The way to read it aloud should make the audience minds venture into creative imagination. That’s the seed of reading habit in the future!

Triumbarto’s children played along on the stage, sometimes they took their favorite book to read. It was really a day of family recreation with books. Their favorite books are not really depended on the book price. They love Roald Dahl’s book, the Tweets, which cost their parents some price. It will be their treat said the father. But they also love books they find in books offer, which is really affordable in price.

Brownsword reminded that beside the library as the free reading source, or the community basic reading club, people can also exchange books with friends. Other way to achieve affordable books is by looking through the garage sale. He mentioned that the advertisement’s column in the English daily Jakarta Post sometimes advertise the garage sale performed by leaving expatriates. Yes, this is the best way to get great books for children. I’ve got valuable children books from the charity sell performed by the French community in their school.
There is also the big market for used books in some regions in Indonesia, where we can find either ordinary used books or some rare antique (or even banned) books. This shop of used books is now entering the shopping mall as well. The high price of books in Indonesia made bookworms turn to used books as well.

Read and Write

I also had the chance to attend two sessions of an important talk show for readers and writers. The session opened by the well known politician, the former Minister of the Environment, Sarwono Kusumaatmaja. He talked about reading and writing, in theme context: “to be intellectually clever do not need high expense”.

He admits that schools in Indonesia were not encouraging creative thinking, while the global era needs creativity with the ability to develop lateral thinking. These days schools are struggling to meet the needs of the globalization.

The second session is introducing the translated version of “How to Read a Book”. This book is actually older than the Indonesian Republic, as it was first written in 1940. The Indonesian edition is a translation from the revised edition written by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles van Doren in 1972. Yet, the book is still very up date to Indonesian people who really need to break the myth that reading “heavy” books are the priviledge of scholars. This book is a good tool to help the readers to understand many kinds of writings. By having the ease on reading the subject readers will receive more information from various subjects. That is really the good seed of lateral thinking, which in other perspective could also help people to be a better writer.

A lot of audience presented the same problem; they buy a lot of books but never seemed to be able to finish it all. The two speakers, Ayu Utami and Bagus Takwin, and the moderator Oni Suryaman, are all writers. They explain how they fast reading their books, sometimes only skimming over the index and bibliographies to get their priorities in reading.

Ayu gave an advice to arrange one’s library in order of related topic, the books on health management could be put beside the books of cooking, and the book of religion history could be near the novel under religious topic. We can make an imaginary mapping to help us finding the book we need. It would also worth writing down good idea or topic we want to quote in a special note. Bagus added the valuable help from color to enhance the brain mapping.

Reading for children seemed to be an important issue too. Imported books are usually more attracting for children, but as the language is still foreign in their ears I had to translate it to avoid them from being bored. Yet, I am afraid if they feel cheated afterward as they are beginning to learn how to read by themselves. Pointing out the film “Life is Beautiful”, Bagus Takwin (who also teaches in the Department of Psychology in University of Indonesia) agreed with his co-speaker that lying for the benefit of the children will not affect them psychologically.

The interesting session was followed by another fascinating session as they were going to introduce the translated book to be published later “Writing Without Teachers”. Unfortunately I could not join this session.

Actually almost all of the activities to celebrate the World Book Day were interesting and enriching our knowledge. It would even be better if the celebration that was centered in Jakarta could be shared to the regions too. A lot of bookworms and keen writers will be sharing the enlightenment. Then, in turn will develop their creative talents to build the nation.


Oni Suryaman said...

Thanks for the nice report. It's good to know that someone really pays attention to our book launch.

We are preparing to do a workshop on the book in the following weeks at University of Indonesia.

Nice to meet you, I will visit your blog from time to time.

pro_bc said...

You can buy the books online if you want. Check out Indonesia Bookcorner's official website ( for more information.