Chinese Picture Book Competition, connecting learning with creations.

Hosted by Dulwich College Beijing (DCB), the First International School Chinese Picture Book Competition Award Ceremony took place during the Junior School Assembly. Different schools joined the award ceremony virtually and together the students celebrated the amazing achievements they have accomplished. Working independently or in pairs, over a thousand students contributed many well-designed, beautiful picture books to this platform.

The themes of these creations cover everything that would interest young artists, from health to family, from dream to science, from culture to animals… Some students went further and explored more in-depth subjects including diversity and sustainability. The Dulwich values of respect, integrity, confidence, kindness, resilience, responsibility and open-mindedness are all integrated into the work of the DCB students. The linguistic skills, as well as the artistic skills represented, are outstanding. Some of the picture books might seem whimsical but flipping through the pages, the imaginations take readers onto a ride of fun and reflection.


The key organiser of the competition, DCB Junior School’s Head of Chinese Ms Lucy Lu, explained that the important aim of the competition is to build a platform that allows students across different schools to communicate and collaborate, to exchange ideas on Chinese learning. Schools everywhere have many initiatives that encourage students to read. In acquiring a language, reading is of course one of the most important forms of learning. It is the foundation of mastering and language. However, Ms Lu came to realise there was no real platform to encourage students to create. Creation allows students to express themselves, which motivates them to commit further to reading and learning the language.

“We would like to see students read more, build interest in writing, and be proud of what they can achieve. We hope, with the help of time, the success of the competition could eventually become a tradition, or even a brand, to promote the Chinese language and Chinese culture.” - Ms Lucy Lu


The outcomes of the event came as a surprise to almost everyone. When planning and preparing for the picture book competition, Ms Lu did not imagine receiving attention and support from over a thousand students in 21 different international schools across China, including many non-native Chinese learners from other countries including the USA and South Korea. The learning resulting from participating in the competition was also a surprise in the eyes of parents.


“第一次听说中文作业要做一个绘本时,我暗暗感觉有点痴人说梦。溪溪也是一副老虎吃天,无从下口的样子。老师给大家讲解,又请来同学的画家妈妈用绘本做示范,让溪溪逐渐找到了感觉,喜欢上做绘本了。通过绘本的制作,溪溪很直观地感受到了什么是故事的要素,如何用场景更生动地讲故事。虽然花了很多时间,但溪溪做绘本的时候比平时做任何中文作业都更主动积级投入。在回来告诉我们她得奖的时候,还找了个成语“呆若木鸡”来形容,虽然笑她有点迁强,但我们都感觉她对中文的兴趣提高了不少。特别欣喜学校和老师们能尝试新颖的形式,让孩子们在有限的中文学习时间里学习感受中文之美。”  - Cici's mom

(English translation: “At first, I thought it was impossible to finish this assignment, Cici also looked lost. But with some guidance and support from the teacher, Cici started to understand the elements it takes to make a picture book and she became so passionate and devoted to the process. I have never seen her so committed to any other Chinese assignments. Winning an award was never expected, even by herself. We were also surprised by the level of interests and motivation that Cici developed for the Chinese language while making the picture book.”)


Students who worked in pairs were exposed to a taste of teamwork and management in addition to building up their language learning.

“知道这个活动的当天放学时,孩子就和我说,妈妈,学校有个绘本活动,我和Olivia一起做!我们已经想好写什么样的故事了!随后,她有声有色地描述这个故事,有太空,有环保,逻辑也说得过去,看着她满脸的兴奋,我暗地里想:就咱这中文水平,能写出来就不错了。接下来的两天,她总是在那奋笔疾书,修修改改,可比写作文痛快多了。随后的几天她们在学校有空就讨论,回家时不时来个电话会议,插图风格,人物特点,封面,内页 … 颇有自己的计划。两个孩子发现一起折腾了几个小时并没有太多进展,决定还是分头行动,最后汇总更可行。期间俩人时不时网上交流,互通有无。交稿前一天晚上,她们视频对每个遗留问题最后敲定,然后各自修改补充。兴趣是最好的老师,付出就有回报。孩子的创造力,协作力和时间管理能力在这次活动中都得到了很好的提升。”  - Emma’s mom

(English translation: “When Emma told me the story she and Olivia prepared for the Chinese picture book, I found the story intriguing, but secretly, I did not believe the girls could write the story down, but they started right away and really sat down and discussed how to work together, and improved the process along the way. They kept exchanging ideas and improving their work until the last minute. Not only they practiced their language skills and put down their creation, but they also learned about teamwork and time management. I find it very impressive they did all that out of interest.”)


The excitement and joy were also shared by non-native Chinese learners, like Charlotte who won the best picture book illustration award with her partner Eva.

“I was really excited to have gotten the trophy for making a story with Eva. Eva and I put a lot of work in drawing the illustrations and writing the characters, so the trophy is a good reward for this!” - Charlotte


During the award ceremony keynote speech, honorary foundation fellow of Oxford University Mr Wang Qiang’s insight gave the competition a new level of meaning.

“Language skills allow creation to happen in full-grown ways, which contributed to the entire human civilisation. With that, we become whole human beings. It is a privilege and pleasure to witness the children devoting themselves to the process that in the long run that makes huge impacts on human history. The children are therefore happy, healthy, and also helpful to others.” - Mr Wang Qiang


In the eyes of these young students, they probably do not see the aspirational future of their picture books, but the small inspirations happening every day are already strong encouragement for them to create something they enjoy. Yuyui and Betty paired up and made something out of their lives.

“我过往的生活中,没有波澜壮阔的事迹,只有一些平平淡淡的点滴,但是把它记录下来就感觉特别的美好,因为成长就是最美好的记忆;每个人的人生当中,都有害怕的事情,可是慢慢地,我们就会克服那些恐惧,解决那些困难。”  - Yuyui & Betty

(English translation: “We do not see grand historical things happening in our daily life, but our daily challenges, and our courage to overcome these challenges are inspiring. I find it a wonderful thing that we can record all these [in the picture books]. Growth itself is beautiful and worth remembering.”