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Emmanuel Macron improvises a visit to the Paris Book Festival

This morning, Emmanuel Macron went unexpectedly to the Book Festival.

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Emmanuel Macron improvises a visit to the Paris Book Festival

This morning, Emmanuel Macron went unexpectedly to the Book Festival. The onlookers, surprised to see the President, had their little words there. “It’s a bit confusing, isn’t it?”, “We can’t move forward, the president is here!” Sighs of annoyance responded to cell phone flashes. The visit was in fact not scheduled on the Élysée agenda. It must be said that by choosing to walk the aisles of the Book Festival on a Friday, Emmanuel Macron spared himself the risk of reliving the whistles and scuffles of the Agricultural Show last February. It was therefore in a relatively calm, but charged, atmosphere that the Head of State, accompanied by the Minister of Culture Rachida Dati, spoke with around thirty publishers and authors for almost two hours wanderings devoted to reading.

“The president seemed very receptive to me and very happy to be able to discuss here,” confides Antoine Caro, director of Seghers editions. “I offered him several collections of poems, including A Wave of Dreams from Aragon, the Last Love Poems of Eluard and The Address, by Arthur Teboul. He told me that nothing could please him more than books as a gift.” An interest in the poetic genre which echoes the collection Mes Forêts by Hélène Dorion, which the President praised. Like the Quebec author, whose work is on the baccalaureate program this year, her compatriots Michel Jean and Alain Beaulieu spoke with the President, whose country is the guest of honor at the Festival.

This presidential visit comes as the National Book Center (CNL) published a study, revealed by Le Figaro, on the catastrophic drop in the practice of reading among young people aged 7 to 19. The latter spend on average 3h11 of their daily time on screens, for only 19 minutes devoted to reading. “The President is very aware of these figures,” Jean-Baptiste Passé, general director of the Book Festival, told us. “The fierce competition from screens is wreaking havoc among young people and competes with the meditation and concentration that reading requires.” As if to double the point of the CNL, he then did not fail to offer the Head of State the essay Make them read!, by doctor in neuroscience Michel Desmurget, which warns of the overexposure of children to screens.

“We need reading,” said Emmanuel Macron at the microphone of BFM. “This is what allows you to have access to knowledge and sensitivity.” Still in the middle of the Festival aisles, he recalled the government's actions for better access to culture and books: Library Plan, Culture Pass, reading aloud in schools... Likewise, as he called the Frenchman to “do at least 30 minutes of sport every day”, in January, he confided his wish to “systematize daily reading rites, a quarter of an hour, twenty minutes, half an hour every day” and to allow better access to books in nurseries and schools. Finally, the President committed to setting up a contribution to the second-hand book market, in order to prevent its players from circumventing the law providing for a single price for new books in France. The Minister of Culture, Rachida Dati, is expected to make other announcements before the end of the Book Festival, this Sunday, April 14.

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