‘My Reading Life’ ignites young generation’s passion for books

Li Yuche
Global Times

*The original text can be found here: https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202309/1298297.shtml

A book-sharing event aimed at encouraging the youth's passion for reading was launched at Dulwich College Beijing on Saturday.

My Reading Life event

The event was inspired by the "My Reading Life" essay contest that the Global Times launched in early 2023 to encourage middle school students to write about and share their reading experiences. So far, a total of 21 essays have been published in the newspaper.

The Saturday event was jointly organised by the Global Times, the Taofen Foundation as well Dulwich College Beijing. Several different sections have been designed for the event. Following two jazz songs — Bossa Madeira and All of Me — performed by the Dulwich student music band, speeches of guest representatives from three organisers were the event's first major highlight.

Bailong and Anthony Coles at My Reading Life event

Bai Long, deputy editor-in-chief of the Global Time expressed his gratitude towards the event's two other partners. The veteran media industry insider also shared one of his favourite books with audiences titled An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and An Epic, penned by US author Daniel Mendelsohn.

Weaving together classic plots of ancient Greek heroic epics with stories of the father and his son's profound thoughts on lives, Bai said the book made him "feel touched," not only because the 'Odyssey' topic was once his academic interest, but also because he was able to share the book with his own child.

"Reading the same book allows people of different times and different generations to have a common spiritual resonance," Bai said.

Bai also appreciated the support of Nie Zhenning, Chairman of Taofen Foundation at the event. He noted that it was with Nie and his foundation's support that the Global Times could successfully facilitate the "My Reading Life" essay contest.

Following Bai's remarks, Nie of Taofen Foundation also shared his insight on reading. Nie, a senior insider of the Chinese publishing industry, said that to improve students' reading ability is a "significant task," since the reading ability is in correlation to a student's ability of learning.

''Using mind,'' ''using hand'' and ''to not be afraid to speak'' are three reading strategies that Nie shared with the students.

Anthony Coles, the Head of College at Dulwich College Beijing, said it is important that young people can have platforms like the "My Reading Life" essay contest book-sharing event. The platform can help them to "promote knowledge sharing."

Anthony Coles speaks at My Reading Life event

Anthony emphasised how student agency and community support made the essay competition and book-sharing event possible, especially the student leaders and young readers who contributed to this platform. He also expressed gratitude to seven guest speakers who formed an excellent panel discussion for the event. Besides two "My Reading Life" contest participants, students Zhou K and Chen Y, the rest of the panelists include Robert Walker, an Emeritus Fellow at Oxford University, and a professor at Beijing Normal University; Li Wenru, former vice curator of the Palace Museum; Film director Ning Jingwu; actress Tan Zhuo and Sun Yi, a program host of the BRTV who is better known for her stage name "Xiaoyu sister."

Panellists shared their diverse yet interesting views on reading. For example, Sun Yi shared her thoughts on how she had discovered find the power of books by reading books by classic writer Bing Xin and Gao Shiqi, a Chinese bacteriologist and a famous science writer.

Director Ning shared his unique "walking along reading" strategy to encourage students to explore the book world with travel experiences.

While Walker delivered a profound speech on "turning fiction into fact to truth," Tan, the actress and Li, the museum expert, also shared books such as Stoner by writer John Williams and recommended students to ''read more books and to read more good books.''

Panel at My Reading Life event

Students Kanhe Z and Yanle C talked about their favourite writers and books such as Agatha Christie and Chinese writer Liu Xie. The two students gave talks addressing rather profound subjects of how one's reading taste should not be intervened by judgments and what should a young writer do to maintain the quintessential Chinese writing spirit known as fenggu in the contemporary age. Those speeches reflect the youth’s growing critical thinking on reading.

In addition to guest speakers' panel discussions, the event also included a Q&A section that allowed audiences to interact with these cultural industry insiders.

Pu Zhao at My Reading Life event

Lareina L, who is a Year 10 student at Dulwich College Beijing, was a fantastic host for the event. During the panel discussion, Brandon W and Hillary T, both Year 12 students at the school, asked intriguing questions to panellists such as, "What is the relationship between 'words' and 'language.'"  DCB Year 12 student Puzhao Z, the initiator and coordinator of the event, delivered a speech addressing his passion for film and reading. Year 11 student Evan Y closed the event with a beautiful musical performance on the classic Chinese plucked instrument known as the guqin.

*The text has undergone minor edits to include some additional information