A common theme in modern-day western children’s publishing is reflecting social issues and challenges. Climate change is hot right now, for example.
Elsewhere in the world climate change is certainly an important issue for children’s publishing, but there are often more pressing dangers to confront.
UXO, for instance. That’s Unexploded Ordnance, or what we in the west probably think of as UXBs. Unexploded Bombs, landmines, etc.
Younger readers may be unaware of the “Vietnam War” that cast a dark shadow over SE Asia and the USA in the 1970s. If so, the internet can tell you all about it.
Here just to say that after the war ended in 1975 some 800,000 tonnes of UXOs were left, contaminating 6.13 million hectares, or almost 20%, of the Vietnamese countryside.
Since 1975, UXO incidents have killed more than 40,000 people and injured 60,000 more. Many of them children.
Educating children about the dangers of UXOs is a constant battle, that this week took the form of the publication of sets of comic books compiled by the Vietnam Bomb and Mine Action Support Association.
There are three collections:
- Peter va mua he tren dat Viet (Peter and the summer in Vietnam) (5 volumes)
- Bi mat lang da tang (The secret of the stone village) (3 volumes
- Nhat ky Sau heo (The diary of Sau heo) (3 volumes)
3,000 copies of the comics have been printed and will be distributed to primary schools in the 19 most UXO-contaminated provinces and cities.
No mention here of any plans to digitise these comic books, which may be a missed opportunity, as these comics could easily be digitised and made available to a far wider audience, allowing parents and responsible adults with smartphones or tablets to share these potentially life-saving stories with more children than 3,000 printed comic books can ever hope to reach.
With 64 million people on line Vietnam has more internet users than the UK, France or Italy and in fact is the 13th largest country in the world by internet use.