Viet Nam News
The children’s book market in Việt Nam has become more and more diversified with the launch of many new publishers and bookstores.
However, books for children by local authors have been somewhat overshadowed by those written by international authors.
Educational expert Nguyễn Thụy Anh, who initiated Đọc Sách Cùng Con (Reading with Children) Club, shares her views:
What do you think about the reading habits of children at a time that electronic devices offer too much entertainment?
In the era of technology, developing the reading habit in children requires careful research.
Is it true that a child who seldom touches a book doesn’t like reading? What if the school and parents support him/her to find the appropriate time to read and the proper way to approach books?
I think a child’s need to read is similar to the desire to play games, watch TV and meet friends. Books are a part of a child’s spirit.
There are currently too many factors hindering young readers from inculcating the “habit, interest and skills of reading”, which is essentially what reading is all about, according to writer Nguyễn Hữu Viêm.
For example, they have too much homework and no breaks between lessons.
The way they are taught literature in class is only targeted at the final exams and does not stimulate them to seek more books to expand their knowledge on subjects already mentioned in their lessons, which would make them motivated and more eager to learn.
Thus, one sees many children on the iPhone, iPad, TV or reading simple comic books, which are more suitable for the little amount of free time they get.
Yet, if you witnessed thousands of people queuing up for writer Nguyễn Nhật Ánh’s signature during his book launch ceremonies in the past four years in Hà Nội, you can see there are “potential readers". The question is how to develop that “potential".
As an initiator of the Reading with Children Club, what do you think about today’s writers for children in Việt Nam? Do they meet the reading requirements of children of various ages?
There aren’t many enthusiastic writers for children in recent years in comparison with the veteran writers of the past generation -- historical names such as Tô Hòai, Võ Quảng, Phạm Hổ, and Vũ Tú Nam, as well as Đoàn Giỏi and Xuân Quỳnh.
I have, however, still found that there are some authors who are enthusiastic about writing for young readers. Besides renowned authors such as Nguyễn Nhật Ánh, Trần Đức Tiến and Trần Quốc Toàn, more recent names like Nguyễn Ngọc Tư, Nguyễn Ngọc Thuần and Nguyên Hương are also remembered and loved by children throughout the country.
Some of them are amateur writers like film director Lê Hoàng, Đỗ Bích Thúy, Phong Điệp and Nguyễn Đình Tú.
The advantages of reading foreign authors are that the stories are timeless adventures with endless creativity. Peter Pan, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Harry Potter are among my favourite books. Vietnamese authors have the opportunity to write stories based on the current times and on realistic and relatable incidents.
Many stories present children’s feelings, guide them on how to behave and define spiritual concepts, such as sisterhood, friendship, honesty and mutual help, as well as trust, belief and joy. Take for example author Vũ Thị Thanh Tâm with Cuộc Chiến Tóc Dài (Fighting by Long-Haired Girls), Tuệ An with Đường Ra Biển Lớn (Way to High Sea) and Ngọc Linh with Tét Đại Ca-Cậu Thật Rắc Rối (Big Brother Tét: You Are Troublesome).
You have written stories and poems for children. Do you think there are special requirements for authors when composing for children, especially children aged between five and 10?
There are many special requirements in terms of content, form and small things like letter fonts, colour of illustrations and space between lines. In short, writing for children is a difficult task. Writers cannot ignore the feelings and demands of the age group they aim to please.
Subjects that interest children, such as adventure, knowledge, humour and romance, should be properly presented so that the works of those with more experience in life can act as a guide. The information in books will help children better understand the world they live in and themselves.
The understanding of children’s psychology, life, literature, talent and even luck can make one a favourite writer of children. — VNS