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Kids enjoy reading as an outdoor sport

Update: October, 23/2017 - 09:00
Students read books at the outdoor library during recess at the Nghĩa Chánh Elementary School, Quảng Ngãi City. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Recess at the Nghĩa Chánh Elementary School in Quảng Ngãi City is a surprisingly quiet affair, far from the usual din of students enjoying their break from classes.

Instead of running around all over the school yard, the pupils gather in a corner under the shade of green trees.

They are drawn to racks made up of colorful cardboards, serving as book shelves for an outdoor library. Sitting on stools that are re-decorated paint buckets, the children flip through the pages of many books, and chat enthusiastically about their content.

Since it was established at the beginning of the school year this September, the outdoor library has become a favourite spot, says a Lao Động (Labour) newspaper report.

The report says that a number of schools in the central region have implemented the “green library” initiative in the last two years.

Part of the Việt Nam Escuela Nueva (VNEN) project (2012-2015) on building a new schooling model, the outdoor library initiative continues to be implemented in schools across the country after the project’s completion. 

Made up of recycled materials and placed in open school yards, the libraries aim to encourage the habit of reading and self-study among students.

“Before we had this library, I either hung out with my friends or went to buy some snacks during the break,” said third-grader Trần Thị Kim Phụng of the Nghĩa Chánh Elementary School. “I like reading out here. It’s more comfortable than our indoor library.”

“We have also been taught to recycle waste materials,” she added, pointing at a plastic bottle with drawings of elephants placed on a pile of coloured tires. “I decorated it so it can be used as flower vase. Previously I just threw all plastic bottles away.”

The green library of the Triệu Trạch Elementary School No 1 in Quảng Trị Province consists of wooden boxes hung on branches in the school yard. Each box contains 5-10 books on mathematics, literature, history and geography, as well as newspapers and magazines that suit the students’ ages.

“We don’t need to present library cards or use book loan cards to ‘borrow’ books from this library. We just have to put the books back after reading,” said fifth-grader Nguyễn Ngọc Bảo Nam. “It definitely doesn’t feel stuffy like the indoor library.”

Lots of stools are placed under the trees for students can sit and read, said school principal Bùi Thị Hương Lam, adding: “We’re planning to raise funds to buy more books, containers and umbrellas to expand the library.”

Đoàn Thị Hà, the school’s librarian, said that the borrowing and returning procedures for the outdoor library were less troublesome than the indoor one. “We can see that more students are drawn to the new library,” she said.

Students at the Trà Don Secondary Boarding School for Ethnic Minorities in Quảng Nam Province are also engaged more in reading thanks to its newly established outdoor library, the Dân Trí online newspaper reported. Bookshelves are placed in easily seen spots in the school playground. A sheltered row of benches offers ample space for students to sit and read.

Eight-grader Nguyễn Thị Hà My, a frequent visitor to the library, said she likes it so much she feels responsible for protecting the books.

“I feel like I understand the content more when reading outside,” she said. 

About 4,000 books, newspapers and magazines are rotated every week between the school’s indoor and outdoor libraries so that students can access a wide variety of information, said principal Võ Đăng Chín.

“Our students have been doing a very good job protecting the books. Some of them, who did not enjoy reading at first, frequently approach the outdoor bookshelves.”

They are hoping that the outdoor library will promote a reading culture among students, Chín said.

The books are introduced to students during weekly school meetings and story-telling classes, based on weekly and monthly themes, he said.

Furthermore, the school’s administrators and teachers have worked together to call for donors and sponsors of new books that reinforce knowledge about the country’s islands and territories, its laws and traditional values, he added. — VNS

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