Stories of Change

Students reading at an outdoor library in Vietnam.

A new library makes reading more fun in Vietnam

With just under 300 students, Muong Kim #1 is one of the larger primary schools in its commune in Vietnam. So when I visited the school about 18 months ago, I was interested in seeing the library. To my disappointment, I was taken to a tiny room stuffed with books and supplies. It was more of a storage closet than a library. Plus, I found out that no reading activities were being organized for the students.

After that visit, my colleagues and I suggested that the faculty of Muong Kim #1 consider an outdoor library. Lots of people asked, “An outdoor library? What does that look like?”

Well, if you were to visit Muong Kim #1 today, you would see storybooks placed neatly on small, colorful shelves under the canopy of the school yard trees. Students are sitting here and there around the yard. They’re reading.

One student, Hoang Mai Chi, told us, “I was one of the 10 students who joined the student group to help our teacher, who is also the librarian. My duty is to take books from library room in the building each school day and place them on the shelves for my friends to read. Then, I return the books to the library store room at the end of the day. I see that my schoolmates like reading in the yard because it has nice breezes and is more comfortable than being in a stuffy room.”

Thanks to the success of the open-air library and our team’s other work to promote child-friendly libraries, the district’s Department of Education has decided to create a new indoor library at the school! It is much larger than the store room that I saw 18 months ago. It has lots of books, and games, too!

“I like playing a traditional game, Ô ăn quan [Mandarin Square Capturing] and reading comic books,” the student on duty as a library aid told me. Hoang Mai Chi told me that she likes guiding young students to find books, reading the books aloud to younger students who aren’t at the needed reading level yet for that story, and helping the library teacher continue to make the library more beautiful. “I also hope our library will have more games and new books,” she adds.

Our team is so proud of all the ways we’ve been able to promote reading both for learning and for fun in Vietnam!

Story told by Nguyen Thi Hai Yen, CWS Vietnam Program Officer.