Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis, usually a stage for protests and police crackdown, turned into an open library in the afternoon of 18 April. Armed with their books, adults, teenagers, children, men and women from different social classes occupied the avenue to take part in “the Avenue Reads”. The cultural event aims at encouraging people to embrace reading as a hobby. They were reading in Arabic, French, and English. They were reading novels, non-fiction, poetry, and magazines.

I wish there were more people. I am surrounded by people who read, but unfortunately reading is not rooted in our culture. It’s a good initiative, though”, said Wafa Ben Achour a high school student.

Read, this is my message for the Tunisian people” said Ikhtiyar, a university student.

Tunisia is mostly known for its clubs and beaches, so it’s good to show to the world that we are cultured, and that we are not only people who go out to party at night”, said Ons Ernez, a high school student.

The International Youth Chamber (JCI) organized a 10 minute “street coaching” on how to read quicker, and better grasp the meaning of a book. Amina, an English student was among those who benefited from such training. “The training was really beneficial; I feel that I used to read in the wrong way. Now I can easily grasp the meaning of what I read. I wish Tunisians would spend less time on Facebook, and more time reading”, she said.

Reading is certainly not Tunisians’ favorite hobby. Initiatives such as these can help develop a culture of reading.

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