A small market for good children’s books

Illustrations from a picture book. Photo provided

For decades, the books and textbooks essential for a good education have been scarce in Cambodia, and the materials available are lacking in many respects. This is particularly the case when it comes to educational books for children under 5 years old.

Tan Ponleuk, owner of Ta Prom bookstore, says book publishing is a dying art and that small-run children’s books have been among the first victims. Yet while most new educational materials for children are geared towards digital media such as computers and smartphones, Ponleuk says her family’s love for paper books inspired them to fill a gap.

To date, they have published nearly half a dozen books, including three titles intended for the education of children under 5, teaching the alphabet, vowels and numbers. The books are printed in primary colors with images of people, animals, plants and food.

“It’s an object of interest for young children when they read these kinds of books,” Ponleuk said.

All three titles of books for young children were published in 2017. Copies are sold in many bookstores in Phnom Penh for one dollar each.

Hok Sothi, director of Sipar, an independent publishing institution specializing in a number of educational materials and books, said his organization is working closely with the Ministry of Education to collect and publish educational books for children. students. He also began publishing his own books for young children.

He said the books describe the general anatomy of humans, jobs, animals, nature and everything around us. They are published in bright colors and intended for children aged 3 and over.

Each title published by Sipar is “imbued with pedagogical values ​​essential to the education of young children, and these books require the help of guardians, parents or older siblings to help show the way to young people, by reading page by page and gently pointing give them the pictures, names and letters so that their cognitive functions can begin to absorb all the information”.

Sothi said that according to the standards of pedagogy, children should get used to looking at pictures, texts and letters.

“The important work will be done in kindergarten, where children do not have to start learning letters or numbers. Instead, the focus will be on having fun, watching and listening to educational content,” he said. “Once children get used to seeing letters and pictures, they will remember and understand their lessons better than children who have never been to kindergarten.”