As parents, we all know that reading plays a critical role in children’s growth and development. Reading has been proven through research to be the most effective way to acquire new vocabulary.  However, we may often assume that our children will just learn to love reading on their own.  But kids don’t just arrive at a love of reading by watching other people read. That passion results from exposure to lots of books, opportunities to explore a variety of interests, and the pleasurable memories associated with these experiences.  There’s no better place to achieve these goals than the library!

Libraries might not be the first thing you think of when you’re spending your days with young kids, but if you look a little closer, you’ll find that your local library is a treasure trove of fun that will fill your child’s mind with wonder as well as set up some healthy habits for life.  It opens up new worlds, sparks imagination, encourages reading, helps develop critical thinking and provide extra resources not available in your home. Particularly, libraries these days are no longer just about books – they are increasingly becoming the educational, technological, and social hub of communities across the country.

Fortunately, in Ho Chi Minh city, there are numerous libraries providing creative learning spaces for students and families to choose as their weekend destination.  Here are some of our favourite kid-friendly libraries around Ho Chi Minh City and what they offer your family – here’s a hint, it’s more than just books! 

1. General Science Library of Ho Chi Minh City

  • Address: 69 Ly Tu Trong Street, District 1
  • Opening hours:  Monday to Thursday: from 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM
    Saturday and Sunday: from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
    Closed: Friday and public holidays.

Nestled on the busy Ly Tu Trong Street and in close proximity to high-end commercial and financial centers. The General Sciences Library has been well-known as one of the oldest libraries in HCMC attached to university life for many generations of Vietnamese students.  The long-established library came into operation in 1972 and has captured the attention of a large number of visitors thanks to the greenery space filled with trees and other ornamental plants, as well as a spacious reading space and abundant materials.

As one of the largest libraries in Southern Vietnam, the library now is having more than 500 thousand book titles and 300 thousand newspapers. The magazines range from education, literature, economics, psychology to reference books, and continually updated materials from all around the world.   Foreign audiences and English lovers will be able to find publications of leading English-language newspapers and magazines such as Forbes, The Saigon Times Daily and Vietnam News.

Especially, since 2015, a new modern library space called S.hub Kids has recently opened inside the General Sciences Library, offering a new place for young Vietnamese readers.  The S.hub space is the first library in the city being run under the model of Library 2.0, which is equipped with many tablets and modern devices that allow users to access high-speed Internet.  S.hub Kids was designed for students from 3 to 18 year old, and is an ideal destination for families during the weekend. The facility has been furnished with modern equipment, abundant learning materials and numerous advanced devices meeting international standards where children can feel free to gain access to thousands of foreign-language books, references, and experience hi-tech services.  

Pros

Cons

  • Has thousands of book titles in a wide range of topics
  • Provides modern equipment such as tablets, interactive boards, electronic flip chart, robot toolkits…
  • Well-designed and kid-friendly spaces divided into functional areas such as STEM classrooms, astronomy room, reading, science and multimedia spaces…
  • Provides weekend events on life skills held by international student organizations
  • Offers STEM, coding, robotics, and astronomy classes for children
  • Free of charge
  • Very crowded on the weekend
  • Childrens’ books are not classified by reading levels, thus it would be hard for kids to choose a book that fits for their reading level

 

One of the most attractive aspects of the space is that its books and equipment are free of charge.  The only thing users need to do is register for a library membership card for a fee of VND10,000 (US$0.45) for one year, then make reservations for the books and equipment you want to use on a booked date.

 

>> Learn more about S.hub Kids at: http://www.s-hubkids.vn/

2. Idecaf Library: 

  • Address: 31 Thai Van Lung Street, District 1
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Thursday: from 1:30 PM to 6:00 PM
    Friday and Saturday: from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM
    Closed: Sunday, Monday and national holidays

The Idecaf Multi-Library has emerged as a top place of choice for French-speaking students and the French community in the city, where they can browse for more than 25,000 French-language materials ranging from newspapers, magazines to novels, literature works and dictionaries.  The library is also where a range of cultural and entertainment events of the French community such as Reading Day, French Language Week, Cannes Film Festival and a Charity Book Fair are held for the public.

In addition, the venue is designed with a private space for kids, featuring comic books, novels, educational books and a collection of CD/DVDs This includes French documentaries, cartoon movies, educational collection series and some French study series.

Pros

Cons

  • Small, quiet and well-designed reading spots for both adults and children
  • Provides more than 25+ thousands of books, 800 CDs and 2500 DVDs to watch on site or borrow
  • Has more than 5 hundred childrens’, comics, and educational books for kids at all ages
  • Provide audio books and CD/ DVD players to watch movies on the spot
  • Frequently organizes film screening, cultural exchange days, information seminars, keynote speeches… about French culture, people and language
  • Provide a wide range of French textbooks, multimedia documents, and test-prep books (TCF, DELF, DALF…) for French learners
  • Free of charge
  • More suitable for reading than working 
  • Has limited chairs and tables
  • Mainly for French learners and French lovers

 

>> Learn more about Idecaf library at:
http://www.idecaf.gov.vn/vn/item/giang-day-tieng-phap/diem-tin/kham-pha-thu-vien-idecaf.html

3. Everest Education library

  • Address: 18 Street #1, Him Lam Area, Tan Hung, D.7, HCMC
                    354A Cong Hoa, W.13, Tan Binh Dist., HCMC
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday: from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
    Closed: Sunday, Monday and national holidays

Everest Education (E2) has just opened two libraries this year, one in District 7 and the other is in Tan Binh district, to redefine what people think of as a library.  E2 Library provides a good selection of childrens’ books classified by reading levels. Once having the library card, students can get access to books, e-books, digital audio books, movies, magazines, games, and many other traditional and digital resources available.  At E2 Library, students can get recommendations on their reading level based on their interests, check out books, and be part of a reading community. The teachers will come to know your child, check their reading level, help them find the right books, and even better, guide them on the value of rhyme, music, finger plays and reading out loud.

Besides providing books and study equipment, E2 library also offers a chance for its members to participate in a variety of activities, including English clubs, debating clubs, guided reading time, interactive games and role-plays. 

Pros

Cons

  • Provides a very well-designed reading space that makes the book very inviting
  • Books are classified by reading levels
  • Offers guided reading for library members
  • Children can be tested for their English level
  • Provides many books, chromebooks, kindles, robots and other devices for children to explore
  • Provides many types of textbooks (IELTS, TOEFL, IB, IGCSE, National Geographic…)
  • Has interactive game zones for children to play with their friends
  • Organizes English clubs for children from grades 1 to 9 to help them improve their English and presentation skills while still having fun 
  • Does not provide Vietnamese books
  • The number of books is still limited
  • Does not have a private reading space

>> Learn more about E2 Library at: https://e2.com.vn/e2-library/

4. American Center Library: 

  • Address: 34 Le Duan Boulevard, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
  • Opening hours: Monday to Friday: from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM (No lunch break)
    Closed: Saturday, Sunday, American and Vietnamese holidays.

Located on the eighth floor of the Diamond Plaza building in District 1, the American Center library under the Public Affairs Section of the US Consulate General in HCM City is a popular address frequented by students of English and the expat community.

This venue is equipped with modern facilities and a library of over 2,500 books,50 magazine titles,600 documentary videos and entertainment DVDs. It’s where Vietnamese people can get updated on new policies on the economy, trade, security, foreign affairs, culture and education of the US.  Those wishing to search for opportunities to study abroad in the US, practice their English skills and delve into American history and culture should think about dropping by the library. 

Visitors are simply required to show their ID to gain access to the library.   Those coming to the center on a regular basis can sign-up for a membership card, which grants you book-borrowing privileges of up to 2 books at a time, for 2 weeks each.

Pros

Cons

  • Has a respectable set of books and reference materials, including a few items you can’t find elsewhere
  • Provides a fairly open modern and quiet spot to work and study
  • Has a rich source of textbooks, test prep materials (for IELTS, TOEFL, SAT, GMAT, GRE, IELTS) and other resources about US universities, colleges, courses of study, and scholarships
  • Provides free digital devices, including big-screen computer monitors, iPads, headphones, CD players… 
  • Often organizes public events, such as  film screenings, U.S. speaker programs, exhibitions & fairs, book discussions English clubs, and MOOC camps
  • Free of charge
  • Children under 15 are not allowed, except for special events.
  • Library users have to show their ID card and undergo a security check before getting in.
  • Library does not open on the weekend.

The American Center has a special role in promoting cultural exchange.  In the words of former Consulate General Rena Bitter: “The purpose of the American Center is to be the place in Ho Chi Minh City where people can come to learn about American culture, practice their English, and receive free and unbiased advising about educational opportunities in America.”  This place is highly recommended for middle school, high school and college students who want to improve their English or want to learn more about studying abroad in the U.S.

>> Learn more about The American Center at: https://vn.usembassy.gov/education-culture/american-center-hcmc/

Come On Over!

When children have broad experiences, they become better readers because they can connect previous learning to new learning.  The library is a veritable community center that will engage your child, increase their skills, and expand their imagination. Hopefully after reading this, you can’t wait to hustle over to one of these libraries, where fun and learning undoubtedly await you with the children in your life.  Let’s start a family tradition by making regular family dates at the library. Where else in the community can you spend time with the whole family in a place that has something for everyone…for free!

Reference:
https://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/art-entertainment/193353/top-libraries-for-students-in-hcm-city.html

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