In 2020, the Taiwan Reading Festival's most extravagant reading activity—the Reading Carnival—was held on December 5 at Freedom Square park area. Under the direction of the Ministry of Education, National Central Library hosted the carnival and started the opening ceremony with a lively performance by the Lungyun Drum Troupe from Lunghwa University of Science and Technology. Administrative Deputy Minister of Education Teng-chiao Lin and Deputy Minister of Culture Kevin Peng both spoke. The opening ceremony attracted close to three hundred adults and children. There was a lot of happiness on site, and those in attendance were warmed on the cold winter day by their passion for reading.
Deputy Minister Lin stated, lifelong learning is the key to increasing public literacy and strengthening Taiwan's competitiveness in the age of knowledge economies. “Reading” is the foundation of lifelong learning. Through reading, one can cultivate language ability, learning ability, thinking skills, and improve one's ability to react, to image, and to create. Therefore, reading promotion is critical. The cultivation of a public reading atmosphere will increase the public's ability to embrace the future, lessen knowledge gaps in society, and thus improve the nation's competitive edge. The Taiwan Reading Festival is a brand item in Taiwan's reading promotion efforts. It was awarded the 2020 American Library Association's Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects, fully showcasing Taiwan's abundance of reading vigor to the world and allowing other countries to discover the deep cultural literacy that exists on this beautiful island of Taiwan.
The opening ceremony used throwable gliders as a symbol of “Reading Takes Flight.” They symbolize the takeoff that happens to language abilities, focus, observation, reactions, memory, learning abilities, thinking skills, imagination, creativity, and competitiveness when one reads. The Netherlands Office Taipei Representative Guido Tielman also took time to introduce Utrecht's Miffy, as well as Sinterklaas who watches over children. This brought even more joy and a lively atmosphere to this year's Taiwan Reading Festival.
Certificates of appreciation were given to participating institutions, including libraries, museums, schools, publishers, bookstores, reading groups, and foreign representative offices. It was a warm, inviting atmosphere where passion from the government, domestic institutions, and international organizations came together to support reading promotion. After the ceremony, Teng-chiao transformed into a secret guest and read two stories to children in the Happy Story Village: My Son Threw Up and The Banana's Secret. There was non-stop laughing during the reading.
This year's Taiwan Reading Festival carnival was comprised of 24 themes and more than 250 innovative reading events. Cosponsoring institutions and the size of the event were both much more than previous years. In addition to the classic favorites of Happy Story Village, Science – Flying – Crazy Bubbles, Reading Kaleidoscope: A Joyful Gathering, The Time Travel Classroom, Studies in the City, and Reading Fair, there was also the Little Readers, which was for children 0-6 years old that helps them listen, speak, read, write, and play. An invitation was extended to the Library Association of the Republic of China to host the event “Why Is My Library So Adorable?”, which brought together schools, museums, and libraries to jointly promote the Youth Academy, Museum Game Island, and Shortcuts on the Travel Map.
Other booths, such as AI Robot's Creations: A Book Maze World, Reading to Draw, A Mini Financial Genius, Plant Ecology Fair Fun, and innovative and unique events like Puzzle Games, A Romantic Stroll Down Aiguo East Road, and A Grand Plan: An Exhibition of a Mobile Book Cart were also available. The event A World Symphony of Reading Enjoyment invited the representative offices in Taiwan of the U.S., the Netherlands, German, France, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Israel, Mexico, and Japan, as well as the European Economic and Trade Office, the European Union Centre in Taiwan, and the Nederlandse School Taipei to participate. The collaborative plan was to use world cultures as the theme in designing creative and interactive booths and games, opening an “anywhere” door for attendees so that they could travel abroad in seconds. The result was a meaningful foreign feel to their reading experience. The Netherlands Office Taipei Representative Guido Tielman personally invited Miffy to come and read stories about herself. Sinterklass also came to hand out traditional cookies from Holland to the children. Dutch illustrator Marloes Huijsmans guided children in making their own cards. All of these attracted even more parents and children, many of which took pictures and made cards to remember the occasion.
National Central Library Director-General Shu-hsien Tseng stated that this year's Reading Carnival not only supported the new curriculum outline and included the five educational trends of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) in its planning, but also incorporated dual language education and multiculturalism in its event design. It is hoped that these innovative reading promotion events and digital learning content will break through limitations in traditional reading promotion and continue to ignite the public's passion for reading. The aim is to create a nationwide reading movement that involves everyone—from 0 to 100—in enjoying and delighting in reading.
This year's Reading Festival was the grandest Taiwan has put on. Over 150 institutions joined in, attracting a total of almost 20,000 attendees. Each of the reading event booths were filled with an endless stream of people. The park area of Freedom Square was lively and colorful on this winter day.