Child-friendly Libraries: Inside and Out

CWS Vietnam | April 6, 2019

    Students playing and reading books at outdoor library. Photo: CWS

    Students reading books at outdoor library. Photo: CWS

    By Nguyen Thi Hai Yen, Program Officer.

    With 296 students, Muong Kim #1 primary school is considered a large school with its commune. Yet, about 18 months ago, when I visited the school and asked to visit the library, I was taken to such a small room that was full of books and supplies – more of a store room than a library. In addition to which, no student reading activity organized anywhere in the school. It was from this visit that the outdoor library idea was introduced and promoted by CWS. “An outdoor library? What does that look like?”, many people have asked me.

    Well, what visitors see when they come to the school is story books placed neatly on small colorful shelves under tree canopies with students sitting to read here and there around the school yard.

    One young reader, Hoang Mai Chi, praises the new library: “I was one of the 10 students who joined the student group whose members helped their teacher, who is also the librarian. My duty is to take books from library room in the building each school day and place them on the shelves for my friends to read. Then, I return the books to the library store room at the day end. I see my schoolmates like reading in the yard because it has nice breezes and is more comfortable than being in a stuffy room”.

    Now, along with the success of the open-air library, separate momentum from other work on child-friendly libraries, district education department staff decided to create a new indoor library for the school. The new library room is much larger than the store room Yen saw 18 months ago. It has many books plus games. “I like playing a traditional game, Ô ăn quan (Mandarin Square Capturing), and reading comic books”, the student library aid says. Other things Hoang Mai Chi likes are these: guiding young students to find books and sometimes reading them aloud because some 1st graders do not read well enough for some books and helping the library teacher make the library more beautiful. “I also wish our library to have more games and new books”, she ends.

    CWS is proud of successful efforts over the years to promote reading for fun and more learning in Vietnam.

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