Stories of Change

Child-friendly libraries promote better reading habits among students.

CWS efforts to help schools establish child-friend libraries reached 657 students in January 2018 alone.

One workshop means better access to books for hundreds of students in Vietnam

Inspired after a CWS-led workshop about child-friendly libraries, Le Thi Kim Lan, from the Than Uyen district Education Department, shared her thoughts when we met again after some time: “You know, Yen, we teachers used to share ideas about child-friendly libraries during summer vacation times; but we were just learning on our own. We never had a chance to join a professional training like the one CWS organized.”

The workshop was the Than Uyen primary school teachers’ first time for learning and sharing with outside help. “What we have learned is great,” Teacher Lan said, “Now we understand that a child-friendly library is where children are at the center; it is not developing a library just to meet the required ‘fancy’ criteria set by education professional — that is inconvenient and unfriendly for children to use.” It is just the opposite! “We now know how to organize the library in a child-friendly way and use color codes to categorize the books so that even a first grader can easily find a book of interest.”

Teacher Lan went on to say, “One example I want to tell you about is Pha Mu primary school, which did not have a library. So, after the CWS workshop, the teachers mobilized parents to contribute bamboo and labor to make an outdoor reading place near the bike park.” And, “In other schools, teachers and parents worked together to make bookshelves, reading tables and chairs; and, more importantly, it was children who were the ones to arrange the books, and to freely to take them out and return them to the proper place after their reading.” And finally, “What we appreciate the most from the workshop is that it helped us truly understand the ‘child-friendly’ concept [so that now our students really are the center]; also, we realized we could mobilize the community and local resources in making it happen.