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Reading Culture: Beyond Just Providing Books to Kids

Innovative Approaches to Foster Reading Culture Among Vietnamese Children

Observing how a non-profit foundation formed by Japanese and Vietnamese friends has fostered a reading culture among Vietnamese children in recent years offers valuable lessons for organizations and institutions advocating for children’s reading development.

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Bắc Cầu Foundation’s Impactful Initiatives

Inspired by Japanese Empress Michiko, lifelong friends Katsu Megumi and Lê Thị Thu Hiền founded the Bắc Cầu Foundation in 2018. The foundation organizes the “Hội sách kết nối” (Connection Book Fair) annually on October 20, Empress Michiko’s birthday, celebrating her love for books and commitment to enriching children’s lives through reading.

The 2022 report of the Connection Book Fair revealed that, over five years, the foundation has established 93 bookcases for children in pediatric hospitals and schools in underserved areas across 36 provinces nationwide. It provided over 46,000 beautifully illustrated children’s books, including translations of Japan’s renowned Ehon series and collections of Vietnamese fairy tales, awarded in the foundation’s annual “Đóa hoa đồng thoại” (Fairy Tale Flower) storytelling contest.

More Than Just Book Donation

The Bắc Cầu Foundation goes beyond the usual practice of simply donating books. They organize hundreds of free storytelling sessions for children, guide parents and teachers in selecting and reading books to their children, and host a unique fairy tale writing contest targeting young writers. This contest nourishes literary talent and cultivates beautiful souls through the expansive world of fairy tales.

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A Model Worth Emulating in Vietnam

The contest’s methodology is particularly noteworthy. Unlike typical Vietnamese literary contests, which often involve merely submitting and judging entries, the “Đóa hoa đồng thoại” contest includes writing workshops led by renowned children’s authors from both Vietnam and Japan (via online platforms). These sessions provide on-the-spot writing exercises and guidance, fostering a deeper engagement with literature among young participants.

(Adapted from Tuổi Trẻ Newspaper)

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