Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Monday 25 March 2013

Kids' books in China - what are the challenges?

When the grandchildren of Tasmanian CBCA member Kim Boyer went (with their parents!) to live in Beijing 2 years  ago, access to quality children’s books was one of Kim’s key concerns.
She needn’t have worried! Lucy (now 6) and Jack (4) have remained avid readers and listeners, strongly supported by parents Daniel and Amy and their international school.
The family is two-thirds of the way into a three-year posting, based at the Australian Embassy in Beijing, and is enjoying, to the utmost, living in this vibrant and exciting city.
Books and language opportunities are plentiful. Amy is now capable in Mandarin, and Lucy is already displaying some of her mother’s aptitude for languages.
Lucy and Jack both attend the international British School at Beijing, where Lucy in now reading fluently in English, with her favourites including the Billie B Brown books and the Go Girl books. Jack’s reading is accelerating fast, and he is seriously into any books relating to Ninjas, the Gruffalo, Uno’s Garden, Pinkalicious, Dr Seuss books, and The Beach. Stories at bedtime at this stage (read by parents) are the Roald Dahl classics, which both the kids and parents are enjoying! As well, their Chinese babysitter reads Chinese stories in Mandarin as an extra challenge!

While school texts and the school library focus on English texts, the Australian Embassy also has an honours-system library, which is well stocked with favourite Aussie titles. There is a good bookshop in nearby Sanlitun called the Bookworm, which is actually running a literary festival next month featuring a number of Australian children’s writers and illustrators, including Alison Lester, Anna Spudvilas (a CBCA Picture Book of the Year winner), Meredith Badger, Robert Newton, Ann James  and Ambelin Kwaymullina.
When special titles are needed there is always the online Book Depository or fond grandparents in Tasmania!
Interestingly, where the gap really exists is access to good children’s DVDs and TV. DVDs are nearly all Disney-related, and TV is much the same.  Chinese-language DVDs are much better, and also great at helping the kids with their Mandarin speaking and reading. So ABC Children’s DVDs like the Octonauts, Angelina Ballerina and the various Playschool series have also made their way from Hobart into this multicultural melting pot.

Kim Boyer

1 comment:

  1. My Cake-eating Hippo picture books are available in Mandarin with Sichuan Children's Publishing and you may find relevant for your grandkids the picture book apps of Feymouse by Blue Quoll and available on Itunes
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