Book Festival Activities and Community Libraries
The World Book and Copyright Day was held in almost all the big provinces of Viet Nam and lasted for seven days (23 - 30 April, 2009).
It turned out to be a Book Festival where publishers organised book readings, meetings between writers, historical heroes and readers etc.
Book prices were reduced from 10 % to 90 % on this occasion.
There were seminars, workshops on understanding books and how to read together in the family, competitions for book illustration and making impressive bookmarks, and improvised plays performed by kids from their favourite books, as well as a quiz.
Acknowledging that the greatest resource for development is the human resource, and that having an educated population is essential to achieving economic progress,
people in various clans have started establishing their own clan libraries, which are like community libraries, where the books are voluntarily collected, contributed by members wherever they are living, sent back to their native villages and named after the clan.
The library is run by a retired educated member of the village, aiming to help the younger generation to involve themselves in self education via reading culture.
These libraries are recently being found more and more in the countryside as well as in the remotest areas of Viet Nam.
Thousands of books were bought during the recent week for these above-mentioned libraries.
(May 2009, Phan Thanh Hao)
Poetry Exists - alongside with reading culture
For ten years now, a poetry day has been organised at the first full moon day of the lunar year in Vietnam,
in the Temple of Literature in Hanoi - a thousand-year-old temple which was the first University of Vietnam.
However, this year, the poetry day was organised not only in Hanoi, the capital, but also in various provinces.
The poetry day is always an opportunity for old and young generations of poets and poem-loving people to meet each other, and enjoy beautiful works as well as cultural festival activities.
Reading culture is gradually coming back. Translated books on soft skills are among the best sellers, as more small libraries are encouraged to be set up in the provinces.
This year , the Kim Dong Publishing House continues its 100-library project, in setting up libraries for various schools in remote areas .
25 libraries have been completed.
A Vietnamese students'club in the United States was organised in 2007, with the aim of gathering precious secondhand books to send back to different universities at home.
From 1000 books sent back in 2007, this year, their target is to collect 5000 more, among them 2000 medical books.
American professors as well as students have been supporting this club in consulting and contributing the most up-to-date items.
(February 2009, Phan Thanh Hao, APPREB correspondent)
Vietnamese Children's Literature on the Move
Facing the reality that children's literature is being overrun by translated and illustrated books , in which sometimes bad contents like sex and violence are sneaking into the kids' mind, a lot of articles have appeared recently in the big newspapers of Vietnam, reminding Vietnamese writers to pay more attention to the young readers.
So, in parallel with the Children's Literature Project titled "Fairytales Story Express" which is being sponsored by Kim Dong Publishing Co. and the Danish Writers Association, in co-ordination with the Ha Noi Writers Association and the Danish Embassy to support the development of children's literature in Viet Nam as well as to promote the use of children's books as educational tools in schools and within families, the Vietnamese Writers' Association has just started various training courses and competitions to look for skilfull writers who would devote themselves to children's literature.
Last November, the competing works were developed in a workshop, entitled A Mysterious Story in Life, held by the Kim Dong Publishing Co. Another workshop was scheduled in early December this year, followed by an awards ceremony to announce and honour the winners. The winning stories are now being brought from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, directly to children by the "Fairytales Story Express" which will make stops in Can Tho, An Giang and Ho Chi Minh City in the Southern part of Vietnam. Hopefully, Vietnamese children's literature will really be on the move.
(December 2008, Pham Thanh Hao, APPREB correspondent)
Month for Books, Electronic Bookstore and ASEAN Literature Prize to "Boundless Ricefield"
A full month for books (10 Oct - 10 Nov. 08) was held in Hanoi, with the participation of 12 publishing agencies in Hanoi. An exhibition of more than 10,000 books on various topics was shown, with the discount from 10 to 80% on prices. During this occasion, meetings between authors, translators, publishers and readers are organized every Saturday.
At the same time, more good news for readers at home and abroad is that an electronic bookstore with 5-million titles will be launched by the Lac Viet Computing Corporation, with the cooperation of various publishing houses in Vietnam. Lac Viet has been setting up a website titled http.//vietgle.vn to provide an Encyclopedia on Vietnam as well.
Finally, last September, the young female writer Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tu was awarded the ASEAN Literature Prize for her famous, best-selling short story Boundless Ricefield, a classic and yet very contemporary issue, published in 2006. She was also winner of the best short story prize from the Vietnam Writer's Association in 2007. "Boundless Ricefield" is being made into a film.
(October 2008, Pham Thanh Hao, APPREB correspondent)
Do Vietnamese People Love Books？
"Do Vietnamese People Love Books?" was one of the seminars and cultural activities organised by the 2008 Book Fair in Ho Chi Minh City in early March - which was considered the most successful book event so far. A recent report said that in 2007, 299.7 million copies were published, an increase of 100.02% compared with 2006, so the percentage might double this year, as predicted by the book entrepreneurs.
With the participation of 123 domestic and foreign publishing houses, 150,000 titles were displayed, and thousands of readers had opportunities not only to buy their favourite books, but also to contact famous stars, writers, poets, publishers, literary critics and librarians. A new website titled www.sachHay.com was launched. Quick surveys were made and once more, the answers proved that Vietnamese people, mostly young people, love reading. With more than 50,000 people visiting the fair, the daily average turnover was about 2 billion dong (equivalent to 130,000 USD) for the whole one-week long fair.
In the competition on Family Library, the first prize was won by Nguyen Huu Chau Phan from Hue (Central Vietnam). His library has over 10,000 titles on culture, fine arts, philosophy, history… including those by French researchers on birds and fish in Indochina. The second prize was shared by Cultural researcher Nguyen Dac Xuan(Hue) and poet Le Minh Quoc (Ho Chi Minh City), with books on Hue's history and culture, valuable documents about the Nguyen dynasty, etc…collected by researcher Nguyen Dac Xuan and thousands of books on literature and arts of Vietnam collected by poet Le Minh Quoc.
(April 2008, Phan Thanh Hao, APPREB correspondent)