Viet Nam News
The Kim Đồng Publishing House recently launched a children’s anthology of Russian literary works titled Văn Học Nga - Tác Phẩm Chọn Lọc (Russian Literature - Selected Works). In an interview Vũ Thị Quỳnh Liên, editor-in-chief and deputy director of Kim Đồng, says the collection, which includes classics, is a focused effort to encourage reading, especially of literature, among children.
What do you want to achieve from publishing an anthology of Russian literature?
Kim Đồng Publishing House’s Russian Literature Bookcase published books the first time back in 1960s-70s. Every year we reprint many books from the Bookcase, such as Scarlet Sails, The Adventures of Dunno and His Friends and Doctor Aybolit.
When we were selecting Russian literary works for the Bookcase, we wondered whether the new generation of readers would appreciate these classics, but we received many letters and phone calls from readers born in 1970s and 80s who want to buy these books – which are among their favourites – for their children. Nothing is better than parents selecting and introducing books to their children as they know what is best for their children. This motivated us to republish some Russian works. And we decided to publish the anthology, which is a new style for the Bookcase.
I love the statement made by a well-known Vietnamese translator, who says: “A publishing house’s mission is to inspire generations of readers.”
The book market is expanding and offers almost any books that readers want, and publishing houses have to compete fiercely to sell high-quality products to their readers.
But why not publish contemporary literary works? Is it about copyright?
We do publish new works of Russian literature, the most recent being Maria Bershadskaya’s six-volume book, Người Lớn Bé Nhỏ, (Little Adult) for junior readers, translated by Quỳnh Hương. Earlier, we printed Sergey Sedov’s Truyện Cổ Tích Về Mẹ (Fairy Tales about Mum).
It’s true that only a few Russian books are published in Vietnamese, compared to all the European and American books. One reason for that is, not many Russian publishing houses participate in international book fairs.
Going ahead, with the support of Vietnamese contributors living in Russia, the Kim Đồng Publishing House will introduce more modern works by Russian writers to its Vietnamese readers.
Is it tough to find translators?
I think it is difficult to find good translators in any language, not only in Russian. Besides using veteran translators, we are always on the lookout for skilful young translators.
How should we encourage children to develop a reading hobby so that their exposure to high-tech games can be limited?
I’m both a mother and publisher. Encouraging children to read is not just the job of an individual or an organisation. Both parents and teachers must inspire children to read. I believe that reading should begin as early as possible. If children don’t have much time for books, their parents should focus on selecting age-appropriate and relevant books for them.
One way to involve a child in reading is for parents and children to read books together, or for parents to talk about the book they are reading. It will help children read indirectly.
I meet children at book launches and on talk shows, and it pleasantly surprises me that many children read so much. Most recently, during a talk show with translator and researcher Bùi Văn Nam Sơn, there were many high school students who asked him a lot of questions about philosophy, which surprised him. It shows that children read books on diverse subjects, including philosophy.
A positive thing about the social media is that it disperses information about good books; many children discover good books thanks to it.
How has the Kim Đồng Publishing House performed in recent years?
We are a general publisher of children’s books. We want to provide children with books on a variety of subjects such as science, history, philosophy, living skills and entertainment, books that will inspire them to be true, good and beautiful. We also focus on organising activities to encourage reading and to raise awareness about the benefits of reading. In addition, we build libraries for schools and culture centres.
We live in a high-technology world, and there are many kinds of books, such as ebooks, pop-up books and 3D books. Similarly, technology has changed the interaction between the publisher and the reader, from just face-to-face meetings to livestreams. Readers also share comments on our online forum. We believe it is important to interact with authors and readers and listen to their opinions so that we can improve the quality of our service.
In 2017, the publishing house will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Doraemon – the Japanese cartoon series – in Việt Nam. Its first generation of readers is middle-aged now. This year, for the 20th year of Doraemon Scholarship, we granted around 10,000 scholarships to underprivileged children. Last August, character Doraemon became the traffic safety ambassador in Việt Nam. All this is encouraging as we are the ones who bring Doraemon to Việt Nam. — VNS