Hanoi (VNA) – To foster reading culture, it is necessary to improve public awareness of books and reading habit first, heard a seminar held by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) in Hanoi on April 17.

This must be implemented synchronously and continuously, not only in every April that marks Vietnam Book Day, said Nguyen Huu Gioi, President of the Vietnam Library Association.

Inadequate attention

A representative of the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism’s library department said at the seminar that in Vietnam, reading culture has yet to receive due attention, leading to negligence on books and knowledge building.

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Nguyen Quang Thach, who initiated the “Books for rural areas of Vietnam” programme, said most of Vietnamese people have no reading habit.

“While walking from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City in 2015, I conducted a survey of reading frequency. The results showed that only 38 out of 3,000 interviewees know the “Cuore” novel, 20 know “Robinson Cruiso” and 20 know “The Yard Corner and Sky Interval” poetry book. All the three works are introduced in textbooks,” Thach said.

In implementing his “Books for rural areas of Vietnam” programme, Thach also found that most of rural families, except teachers, have no other books apart from textbooks and advanced textbooks.

Developing reading culture based on learning fondness hinh anh 1Delegates at the seminar said that reading culture has yet to receive due attention in Vietnam. (Photo: VietnamPlus) 

“Students cannot build up reading habit when books are not available in their houses. Reading habit must be nurtured since childhood. Sadly, many parents and teachers think that students don’t need to read much but focus on textbooks to gain good academic results,” he said.

Statistics of the library department reveals that public libraries are preserving 41 million books, excluding e-documents, with each Vietnamese accessing 0.45 book. Each year, the libraries receive about 1 million new books.

Promoting reading culture based on fondness of learning

To encourage and develop reading culture and improve public awareness of the significance of reading, knowledge and skill improvement and personality development, the Prime Minister signed Decision No. 284/QD-TTg on February 24, 2014 to designate April 21 as Vietnam Book Day.

Chu Van Hoa, head of the MIC’s Authority of Publication, Printing and Distribution, said after five years of realising the decision, Vietnam Book Day has received the widespread attention of ministries, agencies, localities and people.

Following the launching of Vietnam Book Day, the numbers of readers at libraries and publications have increased significantly. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of people using libraries expanded from 24.07 million to 36.06 million. Meanwhile, the amount of publications at libraries increased from 51.92 million to 58.38 million.

At the seminar, delegates shared the view that developing reading culture in the community should not base on Vietnam Book Day only.

Developing reading culture based on learning fondness hinh anh 2The seminar forms part of activities marking the five-year implementation of Vietnam Book Day. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Thach suggested focusing on students first to build and develop reading movements in the community effectively.

“I think that the Ministry of Education and Training needs to drastically engage in the work, from the kindergarten level, helping them expose to books,” he said.

He also stressed the need for school libraries to take breakthrough changes, saying each class should have a bookcase and students of different classes can exchange books and read together. Besides, parents and teachers should set up their own bookshelves.

Bach Ngoc Chien, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Nam Dinh province, said book-related contests, exchanges between writers and readers and the duplication of library models are crucial to developing reading culture in the community.

However, he said, the reading culture can only be maintained with the fondness of learning, he said.

MIC Deputy Minister Hoang Vinh Bao said the ministry will devise specific plans on building and developing reading culture in the community and submit them to the Government, with specific responsibilities assigned to State management agencies, associations and localities./.