SINGAPORE – Songs and skits ushered in this year’s Joy of Reading programme, which aims to encourage reading and raise literacy levels among children.

The annual programme, organised by the PAP Community Foundation (PCF), was launched at the National Museum of Singapore’s Gallery Theatre on Tuesday (July 16).

Kids from PCF Sparkletots pre-schools danced as they sang Singapore, Our Home, a song written by PCF Sparkletots’s lead centre principal Kelly Chong to commemorate the bicentennial year.

They also performed a skit about the country’s past, present and future which began with a short verse sung by six-year-old kindergarten pupil and avid reader Jodilea Lu, who gave an assured performance – despite later admitting she had been “very nervous”.

The Joy of Reading event, which will last until Friday, will feature more than 300 students from 32 centres in various performances at the theatre.

PCF Sparkletots is Singapore’s largest pre-school operator with more than 350 centres across the island.

Its CEO Victor Bay said in a speech that the programme hopes to “promote a love for reading and inculcate the habit of reading among young children”.

“This will also help to enhance parents’ awareness in promoting the good habit of reading,” he said, adding that as well as helping to improve learning as well as cognitive and social development, it can also ignite youngsters’ imagination.

The pre-school operator’s executive principal Karen Lee, who is also the organising chairman of the Joy of Reading programme, said there had been a series of activities in the centres leading up to the event to encourage children to read more – such as days when they could dress up as their favourite characters to tell stories, and explore different genres of stories and rhymes.

Parent Melony Oh, 36, who was involved in the skit, said she reads two books to her four-year-old daughter before bedtime each day, adding: “It is good to cultivate reading habits at a young age due to its large role in language and literacy development.”

To listen to Singapore, Our Home, visit: http://tiny.cc/pcfsong