Promoting the joy of reading

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Free train ride with a book in Holland
By Michelle Robertson
Encouraging passengers of all ages to put down their phones and pick up a book, the Dutch state railway gives free travel on special days to anyone who presents a book to the ticket inspectors. Boekenweek is the name of this celebration of literature. As part of the Netherlands’ literary celebrations, every year a well-known Dutch author writes a special novel – the “book week gift” – which is given free to people who buy books during the festivities. Those who present this special book can ride the tram and train network for free the whole day.

The Dutch state railway company even organised book readings and signings by top authors on its trains. Author Jan Siebelink boarded a train for the city of Utrecht to meet passengers and read his book. He said: “We are talking about everything, including their journey. A traveller just said he was on his way to Velp, my birthplace. Often there are also children and I naturally hope that they start reading. That's what we do it for.”


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