Promoting Nationwide Reading
On April 23 2017, World Book and Copyright Day, the 7th Beijing Reading Festival opened, encouraging reading trends in Beijing.
2017 is the Year of Reading and key for implementing the Development Programme of Nationwide Reading during the 13th Five-year Plan (2016–2020). On April 23, World Book and Copyright Day, Beijing Municipality celebrated the opening of the 7th Beijing Reading Festival. Once again, the fashion of reading is booming in Beijing.
Opening Ceremony of the Reading Festival
On April 23, the Publicity Department of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee, Beijing Municipal Bureau of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, Beijing Municipal Education Commission, Beijing Municipal Bureau of Cultural Heritage, the People’s Government of Xicheng District, and Soong Ching- ling Former Residence Management Centre jointly organised the 7th Beijing Reading Festival in the former residence of Soong Ching- ling ( 1893–1981).
The launch ceremony consists of three parts: Theme of the Festival, Museum Tour and Lectures. In the first section, organisers released 100 books and 20 tourist routes, issued the first letters of appointment for reading leaders and badges for “little envoys” of Beijing stories, invited cultural celebrities to choose 100 classics on Beijing and released them through youth reading groups. The launching ceremony also recommended twenty routes for study tours and showed people reading notes to encourage those to “walk into reading, and read while walking.”
On the opening ceremony of the 7th Beijing Reading Festival, organisers launched the “Reading Beijing · Touring Beijing · Speaking Beijing · Loving Beijing Project,” which will promote reading in different angles: Travel around Beijing under different themes, share Beijing by different measures and guide local youth groups to read about her history, visit local museums and monuments so that they can sense the great changes taking place in Beijing and cultivate a sense of belonging.
In the museum tour, curators from the social department of the former residence of Soong Ching-ling organised teachers and students, as well as family representatives for a visit. As a part of a lecture series, Wang Xinying, researcher of Capital Museum, Doctor of Beijing History and curator of Reading the City exhibition, shared secrets about Beijing's sites since its establishment some 3,000 years ago.
The 2017 Beijing Reading Festival will continue until December and will also have 19 activities that focus on the “By Reading, For Reading” spirit and promote a reading society under themes of Innovation, Care, Beauty and Succession respectively during the four seasons.
On April 23, the Reading City will focus on themes of Spring Reading and Innovation, lighting the whole city with reading ceremonies with nationwide reading across 16 districts, reading marathons, 36 major events and some 300 reading events, marking the beginning of a reading spree. Around April 23, the 16 districts under Beijing made up their plans for building a reading society in 2017 and held launching ceremonies. This spring, Beijing has been filled with outdoor advertising billboards, mobile libraries, reading chamber, reading stations among many other facilities. The broadcast, “Reading + Me,” featuring dozens of cultural celebrities, became widespread throughout the city.
This result comes from many years of efforts put into developing the Beijing Reading Festival. Seven years ago, to implement the spirit and requirements of the Central Committee for promoting nationwide reading, Beijing Municipality combined its efforts with local conditions to create the platform of Beijing Reading Festival. In 2014, the programme became a national brand and renamed the Beijing Reading Festival.
Since then the programme has made gradual progress, explored the brand and united supports from all over the community to promote cultures and industries, and regions and readers. The event has since made “Read Good, Read Well” a fashion, making reading a lifestyle and spiritual pursuit. The festival has also become a new window for the outside world to see the local cultural development and a new model for fostering a reading society. Its development plays a leading role across the country and has successfully pushed forward our steps in building such a society.
Building a City of Culture
In the six-in- one public nationwide reading service platform of Beijing Reading Festival, 16 district governments and 30 organisations play a fundamental role in supporting the whole programme and in promoting its activities. In 2017, Beijing's 16 districts developed a unique nationwide reading programme and held launch ceremonies on World Book and Copyright Day.
Xicheng District has set up 23 reading areas since the beginning of the construction of Reading Xicheng and held up to 2,000 reading events on campuses and communities with the help of dozens of cultural celebrities. The district has played a leading role in building a literate society.
In 2017, in order to carry out reading activities in Xicheng District, government agencies including the Publicity Department of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee, Beijing Municipal Bureau of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, and the People’s Government of Xicheng District jointly held launch ceremonies for the Reading Spring activity to make plans for the following year and promote the construction of a Reading Xicheng. On the afternoon of April 23, a launch ceremony was held at the Temple of Ancient Monarchs in Beijing.
Representatives of primary and secondary schools in Xicheng District and artist Lin Daxin presented shows, encouraging people’s life and passing on Chinese virtues. Xicheng District Commission of Culture of Beijing Municipality released the Development Programme of Nationwide Reading in Xicheng District during the 13th Five-year Plan (2016–20). The programme focuses on making Reading Xicheng a brand for promoting a reading society and building a service system for people in the district to focus on grass-roots benefits without losing sight of key areas in local development, and has made five key tasks and three supporting policies for building a Reading Xicheng, improving quality and efficiency of progress.
Xicheng District is also working to build a “district- street- home” public reading network, giving residents the most of local resources and setting up reading areas to provide a new way for public reading services— following the Reading Xicheng Model. From Zhuandu Zone, the first reading zone in Beijing, to Jiaguwen Yuedu Reading Area, a popular community- level reading service provider; from 24/ 7 China Bookstore in Yanchi Lou to the artistic Rongbaozhai Bookshop; from Baiyun Yizhan of Baiyunguan Beili in Beijing to Di’er Shufang in Jinzhongdu Park; from Fanxing Xiju Chunshuba that focuses on art and opera to Piying Wenhua Hotel along Shichahai. These reading areas
and traditional public service areas provide differentiating products to meet needs from all levels and cover more cultural areas.
To encourage the development of reading areas and local infrastructure in Xicheng, the district government issued 15 Xicheng Featured Reading Area brands for areas and Xicheng Reading Friends certificates to those who have contributed to the development of a Reading Xicheng. Areas and individual supports will jointly promote the development of reading services in Beijing.
On World Book and Copyright Day, Xicheng District held some 20 events around the district under the theme “I and Time-honoured Stores,” including meetings of readers and compilers and promotion events of Xichengqu Laozihao Puxi Congshu (“collection of chronicles of time-honoured stores in Xicheng, Beijing”), and the launch ceremony of serial lectures on classic works, a reading saloon of Beijing Laoguiju (“old customs of Beijing”) and “Walking Culture, Reading China” (the launch ceremony of 2017 Reading Relay) and some 200 reading events. The launch ceremony has become an important part of the Beijing Reading Festival, marking the start of Reading Xicheng.
After World Book and Copyright Day ended, Xicheng District will hold a series of reading activities including a ‘‘Reading Marathon.’’ With libraries at all levels taking a lead role, Xicheng District also made joint efforts with local publishing houses, bookshops, media and other organisations to share resources, promote a reading community and establish the “Xicheng District Reading Promotion+ Union” as an important part of society.
Other districts launched colourful theme activities. Sixteen districts in Beijing have participated in Beijing Reading Festival via public reading services and made use of local resources to improve goals of building a reading society.
A Community of Readers
With a long-standing culture and many publishing houses and cultural celebrities, the 7th Beijing Reading Festival gives full play to the capital's unique advantages, actively integrates resources for reading, and unites support from all sectors of the community to increase participation in promoting a reading society and making Beijing a city of readers. On World Book and Copyright Day, the city was immersed in the slogan “read more, read well.”
Since the founding of the Beijing Reading Festival, the platform has been focusing on fostering social forces to take responsibility and play a role in promoting nationwide reading. At this annual event, social forces with more activity act in more creative ways to reach out at a grass-roots level and help the event take root in the hearts of readers.
Sanlian Taofen Bookstore is China’s first 24-hour bookshop, advocating nationwide reading for everyone and committed to providing readers with an appropriate reading space. On World Book and Copyright Day of 2016, Sanlian Taofen Bookstore hosted the first “Reading Marathon,” attracting over 200 people between six and 80 years old.
On the World Book and Copyright Day of 2017, Sanlian Taofen Bookstore joined the leading group office of the Beijing Reading Festival, Beijing People’s Broadcasting Station, Publicity Department of Beijing Haidian District Committee of the CPC and Haidian District Commission of Culture of Beijing Municipality to organise once again a 24-hour ‘‘Reading Marathon’’ at Sanlian Taofen in Haidian. The aim of this event was to provide readers and bookworms with a non-stop, lights- on reading space for an extra reading challenge.
Readers who attended the event needed to get a “Reading Passport” and registered their time and bibliography to start the challenge. Adult readers who read for six hours, children at three to
eight who read for more than one hour, and adolescents who read for more than three hours, and at the same time finished at least one book can complete the challenge and receive a seal from Sanlian Taofen Bookstore. Those who read for more than 12 hours also received a winner’s certificate. This is a test of perseverance and concentration, and a feast for thought and reading. The seal and certificate recorded people’s reading time.
Starting from 8 a. m. in the morning, book lovers in Beijing came to the bookshop for a marathon challenge. Readers went into the bookshop, picked their own books, and started to read. Shi Zonghui, 84, was originally a manager at Xinhua Bookstore. Xu Youyou, 77, is a doctor. Both having read a plethora of books, reading became inseparable from their lives. They may not be as strong as younger people, but their ability to read quietly remained undiminished.
Meng Zezhen who is four and a half years old followed his mother into the bookshop. He took his favourite dinosaur album and read it all the time. Half a year later he began to learn words and always had the book his his hands. Zezhen would read for around half an hour; even when going shopping with adults or at the supermarket, he would take the initiative to go to the book area and read for a little while before going home.
Beijing Sanlian Taofen 24-Hour Bookstore (Haidian Branch) lies adjacent to Tsinghua University and other universities. Many students came to the bookshop for the event, including a woman named Deng among them. As reading was an important part of her life, she came in very early in the morning. In less than two hours she already finished half a book. “On World Book and Copyright Day, it means something special for me to come join in the marathon,” Deng said.
World Book and Copyright Day event attracted more than 300 readers, extended to the whole of Beijing, and officially became one of the important events in the launching ceremony. In 2017, the Beijing Reading Festival will change Beijing into a city of reading by inviting every citizen to read and appreciate books through 21 themed activities and events in the year, such as the 2017 “Reading Marathon,’’ promoting the “Reading + Me” action plan.
The Sound of Reading
People gathered around the newly completed blue- grey “Reading Station” in the centre of Beijing Sanlian Taofen 24Hour Bookstore (Haidian Branch), waiting to read books. This is the first Reading Station of its kind built jointly by Beijing
People’s Broadcasting Station and Beijing Reading Festival.
Effectively combining community and strengthening cooperation are one of the features of the “Beijing Model” in promoting nationwide reading. Beijing People’s Broadcasting Station and the Beijing Reading Festival Organizing Committee is building a platform through this model, creating an atmosphere for reading in society. This Reading Station in the bookshop is also the first display platform built by Beijing’s broadcasting station for readers and listeners.
Readers in the capital in the station and note down their favourite literary works. The Reading Station collected audio data, and after careful editions by reading professionals, records would be played daily by FM87.6 at six prime times: 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m., and 10 p.m. Readings were sent out via radio waves for more readers enthusiasts could share in the joy of reading.
In addition to reading and recommending books, the FM87.6 channel also focused on interviews of vice- chairman of the China Writers Association Li Jingze, head of the Chinese Medical Doctor Association Zhang Yanling, president of Capital Normal University Gong Huili, Secretary Cui Shuqiang of Haidian District Committee of the CPC, General Manager of Sanlian Bookstore Zhang Zuozhen, painter Jin Shangyi, writers Cao Wenxuan, Liu Liu, and Zhou Guoping, historian Yan Chongnian, actor Lan Tianye, international chess master Xie Jun and other cultural celebrities, experts and scholars. They would tell their own reading stories, and recommend or recite the books they liked or were reading.
Five programmes including Zhidao Buzhidao (“do you know”) and Tingting Tangerduo (“sugar ears”) will also launch plans for introducing nationwide reading activities and promoting “Reading + Me.” Since World Book and Copyright Day started on April 23, the station has been airing on nine channels in public advertisements where 16 influential and famous writers, cultural celebrities, university presidents, and leaders advocate reading so that more people can read with the words of the wise.
The station and Beijing Reading Festival Organising Committee has launched the “Selection of the 7th Beijing Reading Festival” to “explore the power of reading and identify reading models” through activities and read into the “Reading Family, Reading Demonstration Community, and Gold Medal Reading Promoter.” During the same period, the station will also carry out offline activities like sending books to the countryside and “sending books to the campus” to promote nationwide reading.
Mobile Library Vehicles
Over the years, the Beijing Reading Festival has been trying to explore methods that can be copied and made great efforts to create many “Reading Promotion Accelerators” to boost participation, extend time, and generate greater influence so that the event can became more popular and promote Beijing’s exemplary role in the country.
With these activities, giving Beijing residents more choices in reading areas and developing reading habits has become a common measure to promote reading. On World Book and Copyright Day of 2017, the launch ceremony of Mobile Library Vehicles of the 7th Beijing Reading Festival was held in the building of Beijing Municipal Bureau of Press and Publication. After that, five Mobile Library Vehicles were driven to the Temple of Ancient Monarchs in Beijing Xicheng, Xidan Books Building, Daxing District Cultural Activity Centre, Wanda Plaza in Fengtai District, and the office complex of the people’s Government of Haidian District, which began their day's journey.
“To see the world by reading and walking,” the white words written on the black vehicles were eye- catching in early mornings. These Mobile Library Vehicles were equipped with a staff desk. In addition to offering people drinks, they also had a 30- layer wooden drawer- style bookcase that could store up to 2,000 books.
When one of the vehicles stopped at the Temple of Ancient Monarchs, staff opened a covering plate along the side of the vehicle, revealing a miniature world: a desk, bookcase, coffee machine, ice maker, even a TV, silent power generator, fire extinguisher and other equipment. Inside the vehicle stood a bookcase.
Staff first brought out 30 supporters and set them up next to the vehicle; they pulled out a tray, took about 500 newly published books out, and a mini bookshop was set up in a matter of minutes. A few more reading tables, chairs and umbrellas, and a mobile library soon appeared.
At the mobile library, people not only buy drinks and books, but also borrow any one of the books in the tray after paying a fee, which is given back to the borrower once the book is returned. Vehicles parked in the streets of Beijing gave the public easier access to read at any time.
The Mobile Library Vehicles quickly attracted the eyes of people. “I have seen people selling books in a van, but most of the books were pirated. Here we can see certain books, and this way is new.” A man named Zhang picked up a book to read in the shade. He said he was engaged in finance, but wanted to change his subject on World Book and Copyright Day, so he chose to read a more common book.
Mobile Library Vehicles were developed jointly by BELENCRE Bookstore and Beijing Joint Publishing Company and the first generation was launched with the “Joint Reading” brand in 2015. The first generation was a converted 1.5-ton van without bookshelves, but with coffee on sale.
Readers had to climb up to buy books on stairs.
With a second generation of the mobile library, the company spent more money and bought seven small passenger vehicles, each about 400,000 yuan. These Mobile Library Vehicles have been to the China World Trade Centre Plaza, 798 Art Zone, Geely University and other areas.
With more reading activities in Beijing and development of an urban reading environment, volunteer reading activities have emerged with more advocates promoting grassroots reading. There are also more families reading together to maintain relationships. Some communities are full of books, with both large and small reading groups formed. These volunteer organisations and individuals promote reading as a healthy way of life, helping to build an abundant urban reading community.
On the eve of World Book and Copyright Day, a meeting called “Read the World with You” was held in the Great Hall of the People, sponsored by All- China Federation of Returned Overseas, directed by the leading group of Beijing Reading Festival, coordinated by New Era Health Industry (Group) Company Limited, and organised by Beijing Chen Duo Productions and the public Wechat account of “Reading Group.”
Participants in this event mainly came through the public Wechat account, which consisted of three generations of notable Chinese artists and celebrities, including Yin Zhiguang, Chen Duo, Fang Ming, and Jiang Xintian. They read and recited famous Chinese stories and developed the Chinese people's love of reading, enhancing their quality, and carrying on the heritage of traditional Chinese culture.
April 23, 2017 marked the first anniversary of the “Reading Group” online. On this day, the Wechat platform co-founded by voice actors Cao Can, Yin Zhiguang, Chen Duo, Fang Ming, Hong Yun, Qu Xianhe and Pu Cunxin, and initiated jointly by more than 50 influential artists in the reading, performing, anchoring, broadcasting and the cultural circle. The public account has become China's high- end reading platform, successfully held at many reading events. While promoting reading and reciting, they also contributed to the prosperity of nationwide reading.
Promoting reading requires the efforts of many people. More individuals and social institutions are taking an initiative to enter this field. The government's emphasis on, encouragement and support for reading activities, and combining forces from society will support the continued development of nationwide reading, requiring a generation of effort but which will benefit future generations.
With many nationwide reading activities are happening across the city, the introduction, planning, and organisation of activities helps create a better reading atmosphere, fully supplying reading content, improve the infrastructure construction, build a stronger reading promotion team, complete relevant system and mechanism, and fully engage social forces.
It is foreseeable that during the “13th Five-year Plan,” the Beijing Reading Festival will shine even brighter, be more innovative and useful as public reading services will be continuously delivered at a grass-roots level, with reading becoming a more common lifestyle.
A mobile library vehicle at the Temple of Ancient Monarchs for World Book and Copyright Day
Browsing books at a bookstore
At the “Reading Station”
The “Reading Station” is a highlight of the 7th Beijing Reading Festival.
On World Book and Copyright Day, Sanlian Taofen Bookstore presens the “Reading Passport” to participants of the “Reading Marathon.”
Artist Yin Zhiguang recites at the opening ceremony of the 7th Beijing Reading Festival.
A recitation event with artists held at the Great Hall of the People on World Book and Copyright Day