A series of private initiatives aimed at encouraging children to read books have appeared in Romania.
A series of private
initiatives aimed at encouraging children to read books have recently appeared
in Romania. One such initiative is a book fair for children entitled BOOKerini.
For a whole weekend, the children who visited the Carturesti Bookstore in the
centre of Bucharest had access to low-priced books as well as to a series of
book and reading-related activities. Valentina Bacu, one of the organisers,
tells us more:
"We lay emphasis here on quality books and we
help children get acquainted with book characters. For this reason the way we
have staged this fair is very important. We have built these stands especially
for children, not very tall so that they may easily reach the books. They can
sit down on the floor, on pillows or chairs. We are also running a series of
activities here at the Carturesti Bookstore. In the attic we have an exhibition
made by children for children a month before the fair. Also in the attic there
are workshops for children and book launches."
The huge number of
visitors the fair saw during its three days could invalidate the impression
that young people no longer read nowadays. Here is Valentina Bacu at the
"In spite of this opinion, children read a lot
without being obliged by the school curricula. I have noticed this while
working with them and I believe that teachers and parents should understand
that children don't like to be obliged to read certain books; they don't read
the books recommended by parents or teachers as being masterpieces. We should
let them discover the pleasure of reading for themselves and that's why we have
staged this fair, which is different than any other event of its kind. We have
created unconventional reading spaces, in a tent, for instance. We have story
workshops where children can create illustrations for the stories they have
read. My conclusion is that children do ead and this first edition of BOOKerini
confirms that. In the first day of the fair we had over 700 children attending
Children not only
read, they also write, says Delia Calancia, "the youngest Humanitas writer", as
she introduces herself. This 9-years old girl is the author of an illustrated
volume entitled A Day in the Life of Delia. She started drawing at the
age of 3 and after she learnt how to read, her drawings have mainly been
inspired from books. This is what she told us:
"The books I like the most are fantasy books as
well as those by Roald Dahl, such as Matilda or Charlie and the
Chocolate Factory. In fact I like all his books and read every day. No day
passes without me reading something."
Another young author
is ten-year old Petru Buzea. Petru and his baby sister Smaranda wrote and
illustrated the book Short but Funny Stories. Petru tells us how he got
"One evening, when I had nothing to do, I
thought to write a story. I started writing it, then I read it and showed it to
my mum, who said she liked it. My style is that of fairy-tales which I like
reading. However, a short while ago, I got the idea to write stories inspired
from my life."
11-year old Petra has also tried her hand at
writing, the girl being an addicted book reader:
"I started writing a book this very day, but I
also like to illustrate books. My parents used to read to me. Then I learnt to
read, and because grandma would fall asleep reading to me, one day I made up my
mind to read books all by myself."
The parents' role in stimulating their
children's thirst for reading is decisive, just like in education as a whole.
That is why, the Narrative children's reading festival equally targets parents.
Ana, the mother of a little boy and a little girl, told us why she had brought
her kids to the festival:
"I want them to be attracted to reading more,
given that nowadays, children are tempted more by TVs, tablets, the Internet
and mobile phones. They don't seem to be attracted to books any more. My
ten-year old boy started reading all by himself, but now and then, he needs my
stimulus. I still read to my daughter; actually we read together because she is
in the first grade and has just started to learn how to read. We read together
but we don't have much time to do that. So that is why I started coming to the
Narrative festival, to make my children read by themselves."
The Narrative Festival, which is in its third
year, is organised by the Curtea Veche Association and gives over 3,000
children the opportunity to attend various workshops for free meant to
stimulate their interest in reading. Miruna Meirosu, the vice-president of the
Curtea Veche Association, explains:
"We run workshops with various themes showing
children that reading can be fun. Moreover, we try to develop their creativity,
critical mind and ability to reason by blending reading with various techniques
specific to visual arts, shadow theatre and architecture. There are also
workshops for story-telling in various foreign languages. We also run workshops
for the visually and hearing-impaired children. In addition to these events, we
also hold conferences for parents. For three years now, we've been trying to
promote the 'parenting for reading' concept, to teach parents modern techniques
to stimulate their children's interest in reading."
Parents and teachers should join their efforts
in this respect because according to a survey by the Curtea Veche Association,
only 8% of schoolchildren in Bucharest read for pleasure.