Repatriates Assembly

“We don’t have a body that controls the quality of books”

Coverage of children’s literature

On the auspicious occasion of the International Day of Children’s Books, a special event “The World is Kind and Bright with a Book” was held by the Central Library System of Nur-Sultan City. The creative intelligentsia and librarians of the capital talked about the problems of libraries and children’s literature at the round table.

On April 2, in honor of the birthday of H.C.Andersen, the entire world celebrates International Children’s Book Day. The program of the event, which took place in the capital city of CBS, was eventful and aimed at a wide range of readers, primarily the youngest readers and their parents. First of all, the guests were given an excursion to the municipal children’s library No. 5.

- “Due to the world situation, there was a period when we communicated with readers online. When the pandemic began to subside, we wanted to spend the international day of children’s books in a festive, colorful way along with our readers. Acting in the Central Children’s and Youth Library, the puppet theater “Yerketai” presented the production of a mini-play “Lying doesn’t work” based on an excerpt from the book “Deer Hunting Day” by Tolymbek Abdrayimov. Children’s writer Zaure Turehanova held a mini-quiz called “Find out whether you’re smart” in her fairy tale. “A cartoon laboratory was presented, where Kazakhstan animated cartoons promoting the promotion of national values and cultural upbringing of children aroused the interest of adults and young readers”, - said the methodist of the library, Lyazzat Khairullakyzy.

During the festival, young readers were able to have fun, playing with animators, reading fairy tales with librarians, watching cartoons, and even chatting with the director-cartoonist Zhanibek Orazaly.

The partners of the Central Library System and Kazakh publishing houses prepared for the guests a book exhibition, where anyone could buy and obtain an interesting book for themselves. A creative workshop, “School of the Sun”, demonstrated a master-class for the children on performing decorative and applied art. Especially for visually impaired readers, the Specialized Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired people conducted a review of decorative crafts, as well as special guests could listen to various audiobooks.

- “The purpose of the event — popularization of reading among the younger generation, creativity of children’s poets and writers, preservation of our spiritual heritage”, - added the employee of the library.

As part of the children’s book week in the online format on the Instagram page @kitap_qala_reserve, the drawing “Book Name Day” was held, its results were summed up, and 10 winners were selected at the end of the competition.

- “We want to extend and replenish our collections with new books, so that readers will be interested in visiting the library and so that they will be drawn to reading. To popularize and promote children’s reading, it is necessary that many interesting books by our modern authors and libraries be replenished with new equipment, technology, innovations, and technology”, - she emphasized.

Creative intelligentsia, such as poets, writers, journalists: Nurlan Kalka, Bayangali Alimzhanov, Dauletkerey Kapuly, Tolymbek Abdrayimov, Jadi Shakenuly, Dinara Orazbekova, Zaure Turehanova, Tatyana Nikitina, the representative of the publishing house “Foliant” Gulzat Akzholova to discuss the issues and problems of children’s literature, its future, measures to support reading within the project “Reading Nation”.

The event was opened by the Director of KSU “Centralized library system” of Nur-Sultan Gulbadan Madibayeva. According to her, there are 18 city libraries in the capital, including five children’s libraries.

- “Over the past three years, the number of libraries has improved, with 53,000 children’s books in the fund, 23,000 of them in the Kazakh language”, - she noted.

The moderator of the round table was the chairman of the branch of the Union of Writers of Kazakhstan in Nur-Sultan city, Dauletkerey Kapul. According to his memoirs, he practically grew up in the school library, surrounded by books.

- “Our mother has been the director of the school library for about 30 years. There was no kindergarten in our village. We went to the library, looked at the drawings and books, grew up in this atmosphere of the smell of books. Our father was a teacher of the Kazakh language and literature. All four corners of the house were full of books”, - he said.

Dauletkerey Kapuly talked about the closure of libraries in the city in the past, about the fact that now they are being given attention again. He also discussed the lack of textbooks of Kazakh literature for children, that they have not been published for a long time, and he hopes that they will pay attention to this. He believes that if they do not involve the younger generation in reading, they will completely stop reading.

- “Today, we are handling a very important event. We need to raise the culture of reading, educate and attract the younger generation to reading. It is extremely difficult to write creations for children because one must consider their psychology and worldview, and not every writer is capable of doing so. As the President of our country said, this year is dedicated to children. Our duty is to support children's authors and literature”, - the moderator emphasized, expressing his gratitude to the writers.

A poet, Nurlan Kalka, also noted that if such kinds of events were held in the future, it would be great. Besides that, he spoke about the recent release of an anthology of Kazakhstani writers.

- “We need a large building for a children's library. Write a letter about this and collect signatures. Raise this issue with the deputies”, - he suggested to the participants of the event.

The writer, Bayangali Alimzhanov, was pleasantly surprised by the interest and playfulness of the actors of the children's puppet theater.

- “It would be nice if the works of the authors were staged in theaters and films and cartoons were made. When we were little, everyone used to read books, especially world literature. What kind of book a child reads, is the kind of person he’ll be in the future. We do not have a body that checks the quality of books; there is no textual censorship, we do not know what is written in children's books. I am invited to various events, but I cannot always participate in them. However, when I am invited to the meetings with children on the topic of children's literature, I will definitely come. I am a friend of libraries. Unfortunately, we do not have a connection between the writer, the reader, - the library. We need to establish it”, - Bayangali Alimzhanov stated.

He donated his author's books to the library, one of which was from the story “The Drop” and told us that during the pandemic he shot a children's film in the village by himself, using two mobile phones for this.

The writer, Tolymbek Abdrayimov, shared his observation that they celebrate Teacher's Day once a year, and in Japan every day is a holiday for teachers because they are highly valued, respected, and revered there.

- “Kazakh literature is the spirit, soul, and blood of our people, which is reflected in the songs of Mahambet and in the works of Abai and Shakarim. Without quality literature, we will not get anywhere and will not grow. Literature should be beautiful; it should raise the spirit and educate children's patriotism”, - he emphasized.

The poet Dinara Orazbekova asked the audience to pay attention to the fact that it is difficult for a modern author to find a good publishing house with affordable prices.

- “The author often publishes and distributes his own works. He or she needs the support of the Writers' Union and the State. Meetings, events, and festivals are not well publicized to writers and poets. Because of high prices, books are not available to every child. What is needed is a law or a program that would radically change the current situation of writers, poets, illustrators, artists, and translators. Modern authors need access to publication in children’s magazines and newspapers. It is necessary to conduct research and monitor the demand for literature by young readers. There should be an organ and censorship on television programmes and cartoons for children. It would be good to release a collection or anthology of fairy tales now by modern Kazakh writers with the support of the Union of Writers, libraries, and state bodies”, - Dinara said.

The writer Zaure Turehanova suggested that the publishers should be given a tax break in order to reduce the price of children’s books. She noted that we lack children’s Kazakh-speaking resources, content, websites, audio books and books.

- “We have opened a volunteer site, named "Soz Otau". As they bought the domain, its number reached 1800 people, with readers from the USA, Ireland, Poland, Germany and other countries. This shows that there is a demand and readers too”, - Zaure said.

The teacher, Rosa Tugelbaykyzy, proposed holding meetings with young readers in the form of a joint reading of "Fairy Tales". 

Tatiana Nikitina started writing children’s books because of her children and grandchildren. She likes being on the same page with them. Before she retired, she had worked at the Department of Culture for a long time.

- “Children’s literature has always been on a residual principle as far as I have heard and know. There are a lot of children's books; the question is about quality here. Not every children’s book interests a child. I think that you should write about what surrounds children, somewhere with humor, somewhere with some phrases that are understandable to the modern child. If the works are out of date, the children must explain why. My daughter always says: “Mom, do not use words they do not understand. Sometimes I simply argue and say, “Explain to them”. Some incomprehensible words must be explained by adults”, - Tatiana said.

The poet believes that the problem with children’s literature is that authors lack good translators and readers from family libraries.

- “We have no one who controls the quality of books. Everything that is paid for is published. Children’s book translators are in demand, but there are few. I had a wonderful translator, Zhumagaliev. They say that he translated my poems very well, even better than the original version. I wish everyone was so lucky”, - she added.

Therefore, the author believes that we have everything ahead of us because he sees how much interest has arisen in children’s libraries in our Republic.

- “I was at a forum dedicated to children’s libraries. In particular, children want to have children’s libraries. Because they are not just reading, they are communicating, drawing, and learning new things. Our libraries are obsolete. We are talking about a modern library, and there are already some projects. I was surprised by the performance of moms who said: "My child wanted to come, read, that there was peace, they offered to drink some drink, that he liked it there." I was surprised because a lot of kids are online. From an early age, they get phones and they don’t get them out, and then, when there was a pandemic, apparently, it definitely showed our families that reading books is better than sitting on the web, getting their eyes messed up and making the child much less imaginative. When a child reads a book, and a wise adult is next to him, he gains real wisdom. And, in the network of what is not, it is called a dump. So I’m glad that the network of libraries is changing and progressing now”, - she stated.

Tatiana also said that there are children who do not need to be forced to reading, on the contrary they have been pestering and encouraging their parents to buy them books. There is such a category of children, they need to be introduced into teams to cultivate their enthusiasm in a collective way.

- “I remember me with the urge to read my excellent friend. She read extensively and told me about mature works. I had no choice but I found them by myself and read them. This should be done by teachers along with librarians. And, the forums like this need to be organized in the future”, - she recalled.

In conclusion, Tatiana noted that young readers always have a good imagination. I think, having read the books of some writers, they could supplement them with their thoughts and representations. First of all, it would be useful for the writer to take into account what young readers want to see next time.

Finalizing the event of writers and all, its participants expressed hope for the successful development of children’s literature in Kazakhstan.

(Photos are provided by the event organizers)