'Year of Reading' to Promote Reading

The Government should make efforts to cultivate people's interest in reading by naming 2007 the "Year of Reading", a Chinese political advisor said Saturday at the ongoing annual session of the country's top advisory body.

Effective measures are to be taken to encourage people to read books for overcoming a "reading crisis" among the world's largest population, said Xi Shu, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Fewer Chinese people are reading books nowadays despite there is a rise of literacy rate among Chinese population, said Xi, a board chairman of a publishing company based in Beijing.

Only 5 percent of the 1.3 billion Chinese population has a habit of reading books, according to a report released by the China Publishing Research Institute in 2005.

Some scholars said the extensive use of the Internet can partially explain why fewer Chinese people are reading books, but Xi argued frequent use of the Internet can lead to people's easy satisfaction with a smattering of knowledge without deep thinking.

Holding that the habit of reading may influence the quality of a nation's people, Xi said, it is imperative to take measures to spur people's initiative in reading and improve people's reading ability.

The advisor also proposed to include the public facilities of libraries and book stores into blueprints of cities' development.     

Primary schools should also strengthen reading education to promote reading among school children, Xi said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2006)

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