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Vital chapter

By Li Yingxue | China Daily | Updated: 2023-04-19 07:44
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Various reading events for children have been held across the country, including in Beijing and Shanghai. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Country marks Book Day this year with events promoting reading among rural children, Li Yingxue reports.

The Soong Ching Ling Angel of Peace Art Group performed a song on April 2, International Children's Book Day, to raise awareness about the importance of reading among children in the country.

The lyrics are simple yet profound: "I am a book. You are a book. We are all books. My soul is the story that I tell. Every book tells its own story."

The Chinese-English song draws inspiration from the message by Greek writer Vagelis Iliopoulos and the poster by the Greek illustrator Photini Stephanidi for the 2023 International Children's Book Day. The lyrics have been adapted and composed by Chinese musician Wang Shimi.

The song was released at the Rural Children's Reading Forum, part of a series of events for International Children's Book Day, which aims to call for the improvement of reading resources and environment for rural children across society.

Hosted by the Children's Literature Working Committee of the Publishers Association of China and the Chinese branch of the International Board on Books for Young People (CBBY), the forum was held at the National Library of China in Beijing. It brought together well-known experts and scholars, as well as representatives from rural areas who are dedicated to promoting reading among children, to discuss the development of rural children's reading in the country. The speakers touched various topics related to the development of reading among rural children such as the functioning of rural libraries, improving other reading services, promoting reading with local features, and highlighting the importance of reading for children's growth.

Wu Shulin, head of the Publishers Association of China, says relevant organizations in cities should pay more attention to rural areas, as reading is an effective base for the prosperity of society.

Based on data from the latest National Population Census, there are approximately 89 million rural children aged up to 15 in the country, with over 6 million "left-behind" children of migrant workers.

In comparison to their urban counterparts, rural children experience a limited reading environment, face greater challenges in cultivating reading habits, and generally score lower on reading indicators.

Wei Yushan, head of the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication, says promoting reading among rural children is currently a top priority for nationwide reading initiatives that require collective efforts from parents, schools, rural library administrators and volunteers from all walks of life.

Wei says emphasis should be placed on cultivating children's reading habits, with the key approach being to enhance their ability to read texts.

"Text reading plays an essential role in a child's growth and future development, serving as the foundation for learning, comprehension, writing, language expression and logical thinking," he says.

Sun Zhu, CBBY president, says promoting reading among rural children is undoubtedly a key part of the national campaign and that by fostering good thoughts, habits and conduct through reading, rural children can contribute to the overall development of society.

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