On 28–29 November 2012, Deva Complex in Sliven hosted a regional thematic meeting on the topic “Innovative Practices for Promotion of Children’s Reading” held under the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program. Meeting participants included more than 65 librarians from GLB target libraries in Sliven district and more than 20 representatives of municipalities and educational and cultural institutions partners of libraries in the implementation of their educational initiatives.
The meeting was opened by the Mayor of Sliven Eng. Kolyo Milev. In his speech, he pointed out: “… It has been a year since the launch of my term of office as a Mayor of Sliven municipality and I can already evaluate the activities under the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program on the territory of our municipality and I think that my colleagues from other municipalities would agree with this evaluation. The program changed the image of chitalishte and libraries participating in it. They have become modern centers of knowledge and information, performing not only educational and cultural, but also important social functions. The program, through the organized training courses, has changed librarians’ image and self-esteem. Local communities’ attitude toward libraries has also changed – the latter are already a power of attraction not only for settlements’ youngest inhabitants, but for all citizens. They are places providing new knowledge and skills, implementing diverse initiatives and projects, bubbling with life… I am happy that the program has been funding initiatives targeted at the youngest, the children, our future. It is really very important to work with children from a very early age. If our children grow literate and knowing, our country’s future will be much better… I welcome today’s event and I wish you successful and fruitful work. May good practices for promotion of children’s reading very soon become a priority in all your activities.”
The essential work of the forum started with an inception paper on the topic “How to Provoke Children’s Interest in Reading” presented by the Director of Sava Dobroplodni District Library in Sliven Rositsa Petrova-Vasileva. Her paper answered the questions “Why is reading important for children?”, “Why do contemporary children read less and less?”, “How to provoke Children’s Interest in Reading?”, “How to promote children’s reading?”
The two plenary days included 12 papers and presentations. A reading workshop was conducted based on the methodology of the Italian actors Lorenzo Bassotto and Sabrina Carletti (piloted in Bulgaria under a joint project of Aida Theater Foundation from Verona, Italy, and Sava Dobroplodni DL in Sliven).
The first day included four papers and presentations on various initiatives of Sava Dobroplodni District Library for creating interest in books and reading (“In the Magical World of Fairy Tales” performances for kids, “Summer at the Library” creative workshop, “Reading Marathon”, “Christmas at the Library”, National Festival of Children’s Books, library competitions and celebrations, meetings with writers, book presentations, literary duels, quizzes and contests, etc.). In her paper on the topic “Children’s Creative Works: an Important Action Component for Introducing Children to the World of Books and Libraries”, Mira Tasich, Head of the Children’s Department of St. Stremats Public Library in Nis, Serbia, presented various educational workshops and initiatives for children’s creative development and the created literary and creative works and how their organization succeeded in introducing children to the library and mobilized their interest in books and reading. An interesting presentation showcased the experience of the library at Hristo Botev Public Chitalishte in the village of Byala in using educational computer games for promotion of children’s reading.
The meeting agenda also included the participation of the children’s authors Vesela Flamburari and Petya Alexandrova who talked about untraditional forms of creating interest in books and reading with the involvement of authors. In Vesela Flamburari’s opinion, “...Authors want to suggest the ideas of their books. To do that, when presenting their books to children, they need to use the means of expression of theater and children’s play…” By using puppet theater devices, she demonstrated to the audience the way in which she presents her books to children. Petya Alexandrova shared her impressions of her participation in the “troubadour duels” between children’s poets organized by Sava Dobroplodni DL within the National Festival of Children’s Books and highlighted that it is exactly the different and impressing method of presentation of authors and their works that strengthens children’s interest in them.
The reading workshop also enjoyed participants’ strong interest. The main objective of organizers was to unleash librarians’ potential, provide them with new skills helping them be successful children’s reading managers by presenting literary works in the most interesting manner. The first part of the workshop presented to librarians the methodology of Lorenzo Bassotto and Sabrina Carletti and creative methods for its implementation in their work. Key methodology elements were illustrated with examples from the practices of Sava Dobroplodni DL (dramatizations of works by Pushkin, Ran Bosilek, Andersen). During the second part, librarians were divided into four groups where they prepared and presented to the audience five creative assignments based on different literary works. Reading workshop moderators included Rositsa Petrova-Vasileva, Evgenia Nencheva, Tsena Markova, Yoana Dimitrova, Galya Getsova, Zlatina Petkova.
The second forum day was dedicated to the usage of new media – animation, cinema, computer games – to provoke children’s interest in books. Chief Ass. Prof. Dr. Radostina Neykova from the National Academy for Theater and Film Arts delivered an interesting presentation on the topic “The Classical Fairy Tale Story in the Different Media and How the Visual Version Provokes Interest in the Original Hard Copy”. The “Bukvenka” and “Pismenka” multimedia educational games of the Viksys Company were demonstrated. Snezhana Yaneva, Director of the Information Resource Center of the U.S. Embassy in Sofia presented the experience of U.S. libraries in supporting children’s reading through the Early Literacy Station (ELS) program. After the presentation, Ms. Yaneva, on behalf of the U.S. Embassy, donated to Sava Dobroplodni DL a computer and specialized software with ELS program modules. The two-day forum ended with a presentation of the GLB Regional Manager for South Bulgaria Krasimir Hristov on the topic “The Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program and Changes to Bulgarian Libraries (Vision, Services, Users)”.
The district meeting was moderated by Rositsa Petrova-Vasileva, GLB District Coordinator for Sliven district and Director of Sava Dobroplodni DL in Sliven.