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Thai children lag among Asian readers

Thai children read only two to five books per year, while those in Singapore and Vietnam read 50-60 books annually, a specialist from the Office of the Non-Formal and Information Education (ONIE) said yesterday.

Kulthorn Lerdsuriyakul, specialist in curriculum development at the ONIE, said Thai children must be encouraged to read more books, as reading influences people's education and economic status.

He said reading should be promoted among people with low education and living in poverty, as they are the largest group in the community. Reading should be included as part of their way of life.

Authorities should start by helping them understand how reading can influence their lives and careers.

Kulthorn and Worapan Lokitsataporn, president of the Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand, were speaking at a news conference of Book Expo Thailand 2012 at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre.

Worapan cited a National Statistical Office reading survey from May-June 2011 on 53,000 households. It found that 68.8 per cent of Thais aged from six years read books outside their studying and working time. The figure is higher than the record set in 2008 at 66.3 per cent.

Men have a higher proportion of readers, 69.3 per cent, while 68.3 per cent of women read. Each read for 35 minutes per day on average. Children and juveniles spent the longest time on reading - 40-41 minutes daily, while people of working age and the elderly people spent 31-32 minutes on reading a day.

Worapan said Bangkok had the most readers, 89.3 per cent, while the smallest number of readers were in the Northeast with 62.8 per cent.

Newspapers are the most popular among people who read outside their studying and working time; 63.4 per cent said they read newspapers. They were followed by textbooks, knowledge books or documents, fiction, cartoon books, books for leisure reading, magazines and textbooks - 32.4-36.6 per cent of the respondents chose them.

"New lifestyles in which people spend their time playing games or surfing the Internet will probably affect their reading time. They are likely to spend a shorter time on reading," Worapan said.

About 1,000 booths of publishers and booksellers will be available at the 17th Book Expo, the most exhibitors since the association began holding the event. About 5,000 book titles will be sold there. At least 1.5 million visitors are expected to join the event and a million books will be sold to generate revenue of Bt400 million.

The Book Expo Thailand 2012 will run from October 18-28 from 10am-9pm at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre. For more information visit www.pubat.or.th or www.facebook.com/BookThai.


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