Special day to encourage reading
HA NOI — There are plans to set up an official National Reading Day in Viet Nam to encourage the once strong Vietnamese fondness for reading.
|Chapter one: Experts suggest children should be encouraged to read from a young age. — vns Photo Doan Tung
The idea was discussed on Monday at a conference at Ha Noi National Library.
Nguyen Kiem, deputy president of the Viet Nam Publishers Association, said April 21 should be chosen as Reading Day because it had often been used for World Book and Copyright Day organised by UNESCO.
According to experts, Reading Day might counter the decreasing interest in reading among Vietnamese.
While major bookstores in the country are still crowded, fewer people are buying.
Last year, 27,000 book titles were published in Viet Nam, creating nearly 294 million copies. This was a seven per cent increase on the same period last year.
Half of the 64 publishing houses in the country made profits of about VND100 millions (US$5,000). Six made VND1 billion.
"Statistics show people buy more books, even though they may not read more often," said Le Hong Ly, head of the Institute of Folk Culture Studies.
He said the number of people who used the institute's library for research was continually falling.
In 2008, there were 278 researchers, while in 2012, there have been only 56 people so far.
The number of students who read books is also modest. Normally, they only read books in the libraries of their universities during exams. But, after exams, the libraries are often deserted.
"Most students read books just for exams. They don't want to spend time reading to gain extra knowledge. And they rarely read books that might change their lives and their thinking," said an employee at Ha Noi National Library.
According to Le Bich Hong, from the Party Central Committee's education commission, many children are not encouraged to read.
She said a recent survey by the Children's Literature Centre at the Ha Noi University of Education revealed that money spent on newspapers amounted to only two per cent of total monthly family expenses.
Statistics show that the most-read books are compilations of cartoons (60 per cent of surveyed people), followed by short stories (50 per cent), and translated books (35 per cent). On average, a reader buys 2.7 books a year.
According to literature researcher Phan Trong Thuong, the reading culture in Viet Nam is declining as in other parts of the world. The rapid development of the internet, music and electronic games are blamed for the reversal. — VNS