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Books promote love for Vietnamese language among expats in Europe

Since late 2020, online stores selling Vietnamese books have bloomed in many European countries including Finland, Sweden, Demark, France, Germany and Belgium.

It is likely that the frustration of the self-quarantine period due to the COVID-19 pandemic has also had a positive impact on the increasing demand for books among the Overseas Vietnamese communities in Europe.

Quynh Hanh and her daughter share the joy of reading a Vietnamese picture book.

Tiem Mot (Bookworm Store) was opened in 2018 by Quynh Hanh, a former flight attendant who moved her husband to settle in Finland, with the aim of bringing Vietnamese books closer to Vietnamese expatriates.

Hanh came up with the idea of opening the store when she had her first-born daughter. She wanted her daughter to be fully aware that she is a Vietnamese person and have the ability speak to her parents in Vietnamese as she grows up.

At a meeting with experts from Neuvola, a Finnish agency of maternity and child care, Hanh said that reading books and talking to children in their mother language both play a crucial role in inspiring children’s pride in their Vietnamese culture and language.

“I hope that children who are not born or grow up in Vietnam can still read and speak Vietnamese,” Hanh said, adding that her bookstore has received much appreciation from not only Vietnamese parents, but also students, workers, and the elderly.

Her store also receives orders from schools who want to buy books on Vietnamese culture and on teaching the Vietnamese language.

Hanh revealed that thanks to her customers’ recommendations, she has kept up to date on many fascinating and useful books covering various topics such as business and skill development.

Sharing the same vision of nurturing a love for the Vietnamese language among children, Hoang Trang and her husband have built an online community named ‘Let’s read Vietnamese books to our children’ at the end of 2020.

While translating and reading French books and stories to her four-year-old daughter Minh Anh, Hoang Trang realised it would be more interesting if she read books in her mother language to her child.

The majority of the available Vietnamese books in Europe are children’s stories, books on teaching the Vietnamese language, bilingual books on Vietnamese culture, and books on life skills and success in business.

The majority of the available Vietnamese books in Europe are children’s stories, books on teaching the Vietnamese language, and bilingual books on Vietnamese culture.

According to Trang, the highest risk in regards to selling Vietnamese books abroad is calculating shipping costs, which are often double the price of the book. Sometimes, when books are on the way from Vietnam to the store, Trang estimates the shipping cost based on the publishing house’s description. If the book is heavier than her assumption, she’d rather suffer the losses rather than adjust the book’s price.

In addition, the change in border policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic has also made shipping times longer, thus making many customers cancel their orders.

However, Trang feels happy to hear customer feedback on how their children respond to the Vietnamese books and how they are interested in reading the Vietnamese language.

‘Vietnamese bookcases in Belgium’ was launched in mid-2020 at a time when businesses in Belgium were required to close their doors and people had to work from home, encouraging each Vietnamese family in the host country to have its own bookcase of Vietnamese books.

The programme has so far attracted more than 200 members, who all share a common interest in reading.

The biggest reward Hanh and Trang have earned from their business is that their children and many friends from Vietnamese families in the host countries now have a better understanding of their homeland thanks to the reading time spent on Vietnamese books provided by their stores.

Nhan Dan

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