Imagine a primary school library consisting of a single bookshelf tucked away in a dusty corner, a selection of old, worn textbooks the only books on the shelves. The rusty metal card catalogue is not accessible to the children, and no computers, media or listening equipment is available. Teachers seldom incorporate reading or a visit to the library into their weekly lesson plans. This has been the reality for many of the primary schools in the communities where we work.


Yet, it is well established that having the habit of reading and being a strong reader is highly correlated with success in school and life.


Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thanh (above) has been Headmaster of Bao Son Primary School No.1 since 2009. Networking with other Headmasters in her area, she became aware of the importance of child-friendly libraries in helping children develop good reading habits. Mrs. Thanh shared,

Our school is located in a poor community with a large minority population (of 568 students 29% are from minority groups). Because of their financial situation they struggle to pay school fees already. It’s really difficult to have enough resources to build and upgrade the school facility.

Mrs. Thanh

When YWAM Mercy began working with local leaders to improve education in the area, Mrs. Thanh was very proactive in inviting the project to her school, wanting to serve as a model for others to follow.

Knowing YWAM Mercy Vietnam had experience installing child-friendly libraries, she saw working together as a good opportunity for her school upgrade their facility as well as improve the knowledge and skills of all teachers and staff in her school. She used her contacts with other Headmasters to identify a well functioning library nearby and YWAM Mercy facilitated a study trip for her teachers in conjunction with the Department of Education.  Room to Read, another NGO promoting libraries and reading in schools, has done some training in the District so YWAM Mercy was able to invite experienced trainers to train Mrs. Thanh’s teachers.

Mrs. Thanh shared,

Even now we are just in the first steps, however I have put a lot of effort into this activity and have called for the participation of all our teachers. We all have a strong motivation to establish a successful library in our school.

Mrs. Thanh

Mrs. Thanh and her teachers in training

Training classes help teachers understand how to:

  • select appropriate books
  • catalogue them for ease of access by children, parents and teachers
  • develop outdoor libraries
  • implement reading corners in classrooms and hallways
  • incorporate reading into the weekly classroom schedule

Mrs. Thanh meeting with teachers to discuss their plans for the child-friendly library implementation at their school.

Teachers visiting another child-friendly library

Mrs. Thanh preparing for the new library with a plan for classroom visits and book classification by color..

Mrs. Thanh has been quick to seize opportunities to improve the quality of education available to her students.  She has also been active in informing and eliciting support from teachers and parents and is eager to share her experiences with others so such opportunities can be broadly available.

The new library is scheduled to be opened at the beginning of the new school year in September.  Meanwhile, teachers are preparing the library room and participating in training.

YWAM Mercy Vietnam is currently in the process of implementing child-friendly libraries in two additional schools.

The habit of daily reading overwhelmingly correlates with better reading skills and higher academic achievement… Regular reading not only boosts the likelihood of an individual’s academic and economic success—facts that are not especially surprising—but it also seems to awaken a person’s social and civic sense. Reading correlates with almost every measurement of positive personal and social behavior surveyed.

Dana Gioia, Writer, Poet & Businessman

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