A book festival will officially kick off on April 19 to commemorate Vietnam's first ever Book Day on April 21, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications.

Accordingly, the square in front of the State Bank of Vietnam headquarters (on Ly Thai To street) and the nearby Ngo Quyen and Dinh Le streets will be transformed into a major platform for book streets and stalls to showcase the works of publishers and distributors nationwide.

Book streets will exhibit typical subjects, such as Dien Bien Phu Victory, national seas and islands, 60th anniversary of the capital city, and Vietnam's World Cultural Heritage sites. In the meanwhile, festival goers can visit book stalls to have a look at the publications in literature, culture and art, science and technology, education, and child-related books.

Within this area, specific sections have been designed for donating books to the needy, books with special prices, meetings between readers and writers, book signing, and so on.

On April 19 afternoon, a procession will start from the Ly Thai To Square by the side of Hoan Kiem Lake and will run through major streets in Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Dong Da and Hai Ba Trung districts, and end in Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature).

Of note, a solemn ceremony to pronounce the Prime Minister's Decision on the Book Day will be held on April 19 night at the Ly Thai To Square and will be broadcast live on Vietnam Television Channel 1 (VTV 1).

The event is aimed to highlight the importance, role, and position of books in social life and honour the reading culture; promote reading habit in the community; and raise awareness about competent authorities among all social strata, especially youth, about the importance of book reading.

As per statistics revealed by the Publishing and Printing Department, on an average, a Vietnamese reads only 3.2 books, including text books last year.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's figures show that the average Vietnamese reads only 0.8 books per year from the library.

These figures reveal that the demand for books among the Vietnamese people was still too low, the ministry claimed.

Head of the organising board and director of the ministry's Publishing Department Chu Van Hoa believes that Vietnam's Book Day will be a traditional event for the entire nation, emphasising that the Vietnamese people harbour a traditional fondness for learning.

"We are ultimately aiming for everyone to develop a passion for reading books and consider it as a driving force for social development," Hoa reiterated.

"To make the day a success, we must carry out practical activities to promote the related sectors, individuals, and organisations. All intend to honour the reading culture and develop the reading habit in the community," he remarked.

"I look forward to reading works by young writers and specialised activities to enable readers to learn more about Vietnam's composition trend in the recent years," noted Tran Thanh Huyen, a student from University of Culture.

Within the framework of the event, exhibitions, book fairs, book donations for rural and remote areas, and activities will be held to promote reading culture within families, schools, and localities.

Seminars and workshops on books targeting young readers, books for enhancing knowledge and reading skills, books for the blind, e-books and printed books, among others, will be organised during the three-day event.

Moreover, a range of art programmes of ca tru (ceremonial singing), quan ho folk songs, and cheo (popular theatre) will be held on April 20, which will not only promote the country's intangible culture, but also promote the tradition of reading and edification.

For making the Book Day eventful, the ministries of Education and Training, and Culture, Sports and Tourism will assign relevant authorities, localities, and organisations throughout the country the task of organising numerous activities and promoting the reading habit.

Rare books will be exhibited on April 19-26 to celebrate Vietnam Book Day.

Titled Itinerary of Books, the exhibition showcases books printed between 1870 and 1975, ranging from pocket books to heavy volumes. Visitors will have the chance to see the works of Vietnamese authors as well as translated books written by foreign authors.

All entries have been borrowed from private collections and will be displayed for the public for the first time.

The exhibition will take place at the Dong Tay Culture and Language Centre, located at Building N11A, Tran Quy Kien street, Ha Noi.

For the occasion, the centre is also organising seminars on books and exchanges between authors and readers.-VNA