Educators and parents are concerned that many of the most popular books for children, especially those translated from foreign languages, contain too much violence and other adult content.

"When we were teens, we liked Vietnamese stories eulogising national heroes and examples of children doing well at home and school, but now these books are old-fashioned for most children," the father of an 11-year-old boy grumbles.

Children prefer Japanese and Chinese comics and books like Skip Beat Manga, A Half of Ranma, and Inu-Yasha which depict leading characters using guns and swords and carrying on adult love affairs.

"Violent and sexy comics can affect children because they are young and naive," Bui Chi Vinh, a popular children's book writer based in HCM City , says.

The best solution for the problem is for Vietnamese authors, artists, and designers to create more quality books that appeal to children, he says.

He points to the example of Than Dong Dat Viet (Vietnamese Child Prodigies), a recently published comic series that is exciting and has beautiful pictures, which is wildly popular among youngsters and their parents.

Many parents are also worried that children are exposed to violence through many DVDs and toys that are widely available.

Children's DVDs are often full of fights, with Fruity Robot and Slipp Jimmy Fri, sold this year in HCM City , being prime examples.

Instead of toy animals and dolls, shop shelves are piled with imported toy swords, guns, battery-powered tanks, and aeroplanes.

A shopkeeper in Kim Bien Market in District 5 says children take a liking to guns and swords after watching action films filled with fights./.