HK book fair attracts parents hoping to cultivate children's reading habit

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 19, 2019
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After checking the details of the floor plan of the 30th Hong Kong Book Fair, Cheung and her five-year-old son, Carson, headed straight to the third floor to hunt for some picture books.

Organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the largest annual literary event in China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) kicked off on Wednesday, providing visitors with a huge platform to go on a book shopping spree.

The book fair, gathering 686 exhibitors from all over the world, runs until next Tuesday.

Pulling an empty suitcase, Cheung and her son walked around in the Children's Paradise zone of the fair, where she intended to spend around 4,000 Hong Kong dollars (about 511 U.S. dollars) on buying books.

"I let him choose books that he likes, rather than making him read what we adults think are useful," said Cheung, who is one of the parents who want to help their kids build a reading habit.

A survey by the Hong Kong Publishing Professional Society conducted between June 28 and July 7 revealed the emphasis given by parents to forming a reading habit for their children in the Hong Kong SAR.

Of the 579 interviewees whose children aged from two to 16, 96 percent considered cultivating a reading habit for their kids very important, and more than 90 percent carried out parental paired reading.

As for the biggest hindrance for children to read regularly, according to the survey, most parents said that "too much schoolwork" and "children lack interest in reading" were to blame.

In response to the findings, Rebecca Chee, deputy head of the publishing society, suggested that parents' attitudes played a crucial part in cultivating children's reading habit.

"Reading can enhance a person's comprehension and communication skills," Chee said, adding that these skills are very important for personal growth.

When parents consider being too busy as one of the main reasons why their children fail to establish a regular reading habit, Chee emphasized that adults should give priority to reading and set a good example for the younger generation.

In fact, the survey results reflect that Hong Kong parents are not reading enough. Although 92 percent of the interviewees have read printed books or electronic books over the past year, they only read 1.5 hours a week and four books a year.

Caleb, an English teacher and father, agreed that parents play a key role in building a child's reading habit.

"Reading is fundamental and it starts with the parents," he said parents could introduce books to their children as early as five months old by doing bed-time reading.

Apart from book sales, the week-long fair also features a wide variety of cultural activities, which was seen as a good way to encourage reading for the public. Some 1.04 million people visited the fair last year.

This is the fourth time Caleb has participated in the book fair, and this year he went there with his wife and their baby.

"I don't think my kid will understand the contents of books, but I'm sure what we do, such as bringing her over to the book fair, can give her a feeling of what reading is like," he said. 

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