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Clever Ways to Create a Reading Culture

Clever Ways to Create a Reading Culture
Students at SMPN I Cikoneng engage in silent reading for fifteen minutes before the lessons begin.

The atmosphere in the classroom is calm and quiet. Students sit in groups. Each one reads a book. Some read folk tales or novels, and others read non-fiction books. A good selection of books is available from the classroom's reading corner. This is the scene every morning at SMPN 1 Cikoneng in Ciamis District. Silent reading takes place after the students recite the Qu'ran and before the lessons begin.

In addition to reading in silence like this for fifteen minutes each day, the students of SMPN 1 Cikoneng also have a period of communal reading lasting 25 minutes on Fridays. This communal reading time is used by the students to read books and make notes on books that they have already read.

"Every student has a notebook for writing book summaries," said one of the teachers. Children can also borrow books to take home. "On average, twenty children borrow books to take home every day," said Dadan Ramdhani, the librarian.

The school library provides the books for the reading corners in each class. "The books in the classrooms are replaced based on the requests from the class. If the books have been read, then the students will take them to the library to be exchanged," said Dadan.

This regular turnover of books ensures that the choice in the classroom reading corners is ever-changing. With a collection of 1,700 fiction books and 1,564 non-fiction books, the library can provide enough books for nine classes. Apart from books, the library also provides newspapers and magazines. Not only that, it provides a reading cart to bring books closer to the students. The books on the reading cart vary. And students can choose titles from the cart while they are on their breaks.

The library at SMPN 1 Cikoneng is not very big. But the way it is arranged is very neat. Books are displayed on the lower shelves. There are also small reading tables on blue and red carpets. Books for the academic subjects are kept separately in a special room so they do not take up the library's space. Encyclopedias and important books that shouldn't be taken out of the library are stored in a glass cabinet.

"We buy new books each year,” added Dadan. “We use money from the school operational funds (BOS) to buy books." BOS funds have been used to purchase books since 2014 when SMP 1 Cikoneng received training on how to create a reading culture from USAID PRIORITAS. The titles of books to be purchased are proposed by Indonesian language teachers. They mostly know what books are suitable for junior-secondary school students to read. By using BOS funds, and with the books being carefully chosen by Indonesian teachers, SMPN 1 Cikoneng can add the necessary number of new books each year.

Reading Culture is one of the school programs at SMPN 1 Cikoneng. "Activities?and the budget allocation?for the reading culture program is in the annual school plan and budget (RKAS)," explained Dindin Hardi, principal. The principal also seeks book donations (infaq buku) from parents every year. The parents bought books for their children when the school held a book bazaar.

“This way we can be sure that the books donated by parents are suitable to be read by junior-secondary school students. The books sold at the book bazaar have been selected by publishers along with Indonesian language teachers," explained Elsye Rosliana, an Indonesian language teacher.

"At the annual bazaar held at the beginning of this school year, we managed to get book donations worth Rp 45 million from parents!" she added.

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