Stories of Change

Students celebrate reading in Vietnam!

CWS efforts in Vietnam positively impacted 40,036 people in 69 communities last year.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

Making reading accessible (and fun!) in Vietnam

Our team knows that when it comes to a school’s ability to promote reading, having access to books is only the first step. Students have to WANT to read them, and parents have to want to support this habit in their children. And the students need a place to pick out books that are suited to their age and reading level.

That’s the idea behind the workshops that I help lead for teachers. These training courses are a space for teachers to learn about child-friendly school libraries as well as reading festivals. They are part of our NEW IDEA program in Vietnam, which is supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Duong Duc Trung is the Head Teacher at Muong Kim #2 primary school. The school is in Than Uyen, a rural area in northwest Vietnam. Trung recently joined one of these CWS-organized sessions that I helped lead. We were talking during a break, and he told me that this was the first time in the 10 years of his teaching and school administration career that worked in a school with a library and that he had a chance to learn about making that library child-friendly.

The sessions were led by two teachers from another CWS partner school. We relied on their knowledge and experience as a basis for the workshop, since they could help address the concerns and questions raised by participants as experienced peers.

One key part of the workshop focused on how to organize a school Reading Festival with student participation. It may sound simple, but this is actually a daunting task, especially for teachers like Trung who came from schools that are new to the program. It can be a challenge to find reading activities for both the youngest and oldest students that are fun and engaging.

Trung didn’t shy away from the challenge, though, and his school hosted the sample Reading Festival for the workshop. He told me that he was nervous and not confident ahead of time, since it was all new to him and the other teachers at the school. But with his leadership and the commitment of other teachers, they moved forward with support from the peer facilitators of the workshop.

The event was a success, to say the least. Nearly 300 students – both boys and girls – joined in the activities, which included introducing new books, painting, quizzes and games. Lots of parents came to the festival, too. Some even organized a team to compete against the teachers in a traditional game!

When the day was over, Trung and his team got lots of positive feedback. So did the workshop in general. The participating teachers shared that they appreciated the hands-on training. They are all planning to create child-friendly libraries and reading festivals at their own schools!