Qin Wenjun

Speaking Time: 2006-9-21 ?09:30--10:00??Hall 2

Speaker: Ms Qin Wenjun (China)

Children’s Literature:

The Light that Illuminates the World

Qin Wenjun


Diversity of the world itself constitutes beauty.

Chinese children’s literature has gained its significant development according to its own rule, which is in line with aesthetics. I believe we have experienced returns to art, to readers and to the nature of children’s literature, all of which are great steps ahead.

Aesthetic perception and sense of belonging, human’s introspective ability, certain kind of foresight, secrets and pleasures in childhood, as well as psychic power are all sweet dews fed to the children’s literature, shared by the whole world. Words flow from the heart, expresses pleasures and feeling with values that are realized by spreading and accepting.

During the past decades of years, all Chinese children felt the brilliance of children’s literature in a natural way. When I was still a timid little girl, I was infected with a kind of disease called “whooping cough”, and the doctor said that I had to cough for a hundred days, which worried my parents that I would feel lonely lying in bed for recovery so they bought me lots of children’s readings, in this way I involuntarily fell in love with children’s literature. In my memory, my adoration of reading at that time was purely by nature, as if a living seed was buried already deeply in my heart and suddenly, one day, it grew up. I was amazed that a poem as well as a segment of beautiful article could emit mysterious glamour. While reading, I was calm and delighted, and all the loneliness and timidity in illness were gently wiped away leaving my heart clear and crystal. My deep immersion was nothing but moving.

I was often grateful that without the brilliance of reading, all my life, world of emotion and writing passion would fade away. Looking into the significance of reading for a person, you can find that it is as important as his/her color of the soul. Excellent children’s literature is the garden of human mystery. The fountain of art flows from the foremost dreams of human beings, and is founded on the base of heart and intuition. While reading works of virtuoso, we feel not merely the pleasure, but a very conformable echo, for they are creation of genius.

I began my writing in 1982, initiated by a kind of ardent complex to recall childhood; switching from loving my own childhood to cherishing others’ and finally to care for all the human beings’, which I think is the interesting beginning that can bring out any proposition with great meaning.

I have written for nearly 25 years, published more than 40 books, and won 50 various children’s literature awards. Publication of my work, “Schoolboy Jia Li”, added up to 1.2 million volumes within 10 years.

Entering the new century, I realize I need to do another thing as many children around are slipping the opportunity of reading children’s literature. Among the over one hundred schools I visited, there are more than one thousand pupils or even five thousand in a single school, however, among whom only about 10% have really had the experience of reading children’s literature independently.


In China, there are 367 million kids, who are potential confederates of people working for children’s literature. If we can win them and they are willing to read our books, that will be great but still not enough. Only when they broaden their horizon, enrich their thoughts, and change the whole after reading what we write, can our dream come true.

Regarding the acceptance of Chinese kids, I have received over 8000 letters from little readers in recent years. It looks as if their reading requirements are “superficial”. Those books that can affect them, pay attention to their emotions, and respect their appreciation interest of beauty are warmly welcomed. The kids’s reading requirements nowadays have their own rules. They are either positive or blindness, such as, 1. More humorous and even more humorous, and let’s smile a smile of understanding. 2. Write more stories about kids. 3. Create some fantasy and let’s fly into dream. 4. Write something about falling in love at school to tell us how to come along with the opposite sex. 5. Make out some fun of reading, such as: detective, adventure and Kung Fu, etc, the funniest the best. 6. Better to be series, telling us “how about the guy” in the book on and on. 7. Best to have popular science readings and so on.

Of course, this is the voice from children, and their rights as well, but this does not mean that this is an era to simplify people. Looking deep into these letters, you can find something striking about children’s thoughts of the present age—fierce resistance of pressure from study, anxiety about environment, grievance for some of the society’s dark side, and inquietude about the phlegmatic attitude between people, showing their profound thoughts to be a person. They are in an era extremely expecting ideas and thoughts.

Transformation of media ecology vibrates the thinking structures of human beings, and affects our social pattern and life. New media, with television as its representative, has pretty low threshold, so it is very easy for Chinese children to be involved. Although from the acceptance point of view, this is a kind of retrogress and passive acceptance, and can move people easily. Many parents take those new media like televisions as the babysitter. When children rely too much on those new media, they will reject and even be hostile to a more difficult activity like reading .

Endued by literature ration and feature, reading has a higher threshold, which needs training and guidance for a certain period. Words provide symbol with ration, emotion, experience, great sense of beauty, and various kinds of connotation, so it is harder for the children to take them. Children must jump high to touch them. We should say that compared with other new media, reading is at its disadvantageous position in grabbing children, which is a rigorous social problem.

Books teach children elegance and mercy, take them away from the savageness and absurdity. Reading habit established in childhood will be your loyal friend. Wandering in the mansion constructed by words, you will find how brilliant the thoughts of human beings are, how profound and broad the affections of human beings are, and how bold and unconstrained the life stories can be, full of sorrows and joys. Those thorough understanding and abundant harvest stir my deep sympathy to those children lack of reading. They missed too much.

I often think that if our children only know what they learn in class, whose duty should it be to teach them to discover their own fecundity of mind as well as others, how will they think over their lives and transcendence of their lives, and how can they learn to listen to the melody from nature? They might be another kind of person that we could not accept.

After visiting many schools, I found that children at our times have some language loss, especially in oral expression, as their reading is forfeit and lessening. Their expression is more and more direct and simple. Nowadays, children have formed their formula of expression. They, feeling like a star or a host, tell you what their nickname on web is, and what their blood type is. Their affections are greatly affected by adults. In the past, when they communicated with me, they wrote a letter, and then told you a little bit about their communication with others. However, children nowadays are very surprisingly direct at the very beginning. Losing emotion is also a big problem. Television media and some of the games start from amusing pattern, but finalized with conquest by violence. Many children believe that power is everything, so they are indifferent, irate and resisting. Many children told me that they were hurt, and lots of them are alike. Sorrows expressed in writings can resonate children much more easily, which shows the affection loss of the present juveniles.


These years, I visited many cities and villages and I marked them on the map of China. I made reports encouraging children to read children’s literature, and recorded their different questions and difficulties. In 2004, I hold over 30 reading guidance sessions for children, and in 2005 about 50, all of which are mainly organized for schools in cities.

In 2006, I visited even more places, and during half of the year I have visited dozens of schools, mainly in Wuxi, Tongzhou, Zhuji, Ningbo, Shenyang, Dialian, Fushun, Xinjiang and so on. This time I laid particular emphasis on schools of villages and counties. Sometimes I had to hold three speeches a day.

In some of the village schools in Zhejiang, the noon break is over 2 hours. We tried to persuade children to take out half an hour to read. Through the children’s feedback, I heard the most sincere sound of human beings, and saw the growing intelligence of people in earliest era, and found how wonderful our work was.

Children are moving close to reading, and their affection to books will getting deeper. Through this typical way of reading they will achieve subtle sedimentary accretion both in spirit and in will. If a child passes by a good book and can only accept new media, he/she will surely experience a certain degree of loss. Encouraging children to read seems to give some books to children, but actually there are several levels and comparatively effective way proceeded in some steps:

1. Foster the affection to literature—interest comes first

It is easier for Children to accept if always starting with telling a story or the acceptable pattern of their knowledge level. Good children’s literature is well welcomed by both adults and children. Children come out their own thoughts after reading, and adults get their own perception. When a child becomes interested in a book, firstly he/she thinks it funny. However, children also have human beings’ primary thoughts and ideas, and even the complexity. That is a kind of “subtle complexity”, which is the ability of children’s literature author to tell the complexity in subtle stuff. It is far from enough to bring fun to children only, as what can backup a piece of work to be ever lasting, to move people, and to truly enlighten people is something hiding behind fun. In other words, it is easy to make children happy in line with their nature, as children are born with optimism in nature. If you say that children’s happiness and their laugher are their awards to us, I admit it is really the most delighted thing. However, if only the laugher exists, oblivion will go after it, therefore, it is necessary to leave something after their laugher. The sustenance is human beings’ affection resource and thoughts’ resource, which can arouse people’s movements deep inside their heart. This is the literature dream that we are pursuing.

2. Learn to feel the story, artistic conception, characters—give priority to moving the children

In my idea, to move children we should especially pay attention to their requirement of turning to virtue. Although at present children have various types of shortcomings, they have some requirements of turning to virtue deep in their heart, such as the specifics in “Schoolgirl Jiamei’s Story”, which is out of my expectation that it has moved children: there is a twins brother and sister. The younger sister was treated roughly by the bullies in school, and many people told her that she should tell her elder brother about it and ask him to revenge for her. However, in the end she did not tell her elder brother about it. She thought that if her elder brother went to the bullies, he would be treated roughly as well. Finally, many children were moved by such a detail. They thought that this is a sigh, and it is written about what is compelled as they are in school or the substance hidden deeply in their heart. Actually, there is sympathy and affection between people, which exists in children’s heart. If it is not lightened, it will perish. Once lightened, the substance in heart will be deepened. We are not giving children extra things from outside, but arousing the beauty originally hiding in their deep heart. I would like to compare it to “a lit candle lights the treasure that might be lost ”.

3. Appreciate in a patient and careful manner—take appreciation of the beauty as essential.

We should pay much more attention to children’s need of appreciation of the beauty. They may be moved by fun, and melancholy as well. While telling a story to children, they would yearn towards beautiful places they hear, and show many substances hidden deep inside their heart. There is a book named “The great dog Carat-Click's apartment”, and children suggested the dog should be called “Carat-Click Dog”. Later on, we consulted experts, and knew that it was a very common requirement from children for the repeat of onomatopoeia. In the next edition, we will adjust it according to children’s way of beauty appreciation. Make every detail perfect to compose an excellent piece of work.

We also care about relationships of humanity, and actually humanity is reflected in many slight aspects. In 2004, dozens of schools from 7 districts of Beijing, like Dongcheng, Congwen, Xuanwu, Chaoyang, Haidian and so on, took part in the activity called “Our Small Xiang Gu”. When reading “Small Xiang Gu”, children gave free rein to it, performed, and comprehended with more pleasure the meaning of the book. I went to guide children how to use simple stage property to compose and perform fictions by themselves. They were quite creative. When they played the role of dog, they clipped a ruler as the tail, and they also slit white cotton fiber as snow. While performing “talking thoughts to Calyx Canthus Spirit ”, all the children became intoxicated in it and tears dropped from their eyes.

4. Absorb classics of the worldwide children’s literature—start from fairy tales

As a reader who reads extensively, I myself when recommending reading materials of children’s literature to children in low or middle grade will suggest fairy tales, such as “Charlotte’s Web” by White, “Witch” by Dahl, books of Andersen’s, “Little Prince” of France, “Enchanter’s Hat” of Finland, “Pippi Long stocking” by Lindgren from Sweden and so on. I also like “Peter Pan”, and every time I read them I would feel real joy as if a little flower is blooming deep in my heart. Its elegance, childish fun, and poetry are resplendent and too wonderful for words. It inspires people’s imagination and expectation to children’s literature, exploring these authors, and moved by the mysterious and broad heart of the extraordinary person.

For children, while reading children’s literature of the world, fairy tales are more acceptable than others. They wholly adore the opus they are familiar with. This kind of familiarity is not in a narrow sense, but describes their actual life in school to reflect themselves, makes them smile, and can be a illusory shadow in their imagination. Children’s spiritual world is extremely plentiful. They live in reality, but meanwhile they are often wandering in the room of imagination. Splendid fairy tales arouse their originally vague imagination, intuitive knowledge, and appreciation of the beauty. These things are what they feel familiar with, and can greatly inspire their inner world in heart.


When introducing good children’s literature to children, we would find that there are some reading materials with low literary and artistic grade in the bookstore, so as to meet marketing requirement. As the trend to recreation, utility, amusement and pattern is presented in children’s literature, people’s artistic standard might be blurring for a while, but they will soon realize that these are something to be opposed. Chinese children’s literature needs to provide more thoughts resource and it must discover the real face of life. It is literature so it should answer in the pure and interesting literature pattern how human beings are like and how the world is like; and should pass on the spirit of a nation, reveal human’s ethics and their earnest voice from deep heart and the reality of life.

Most of the children’s literature describes human being’s original looking. Its functions of arousing people’s realization and function of purifying people’s hearts are connected with its dream. It is with beauty, individuality, literary talent, modesty, poetry, humor and wit, and also voice of people’s inner heart. The share of inartificial expression decides the height of children’s literature. Searching elegance or lacking of nature can neither truly describe the root of childhood, nor sketch out the brilliant and abundant spiritual world of human beings and unbounded possibility. Broad children’s literature firstly must be the flower blooming from the deep heart.

However, children’s literature is not a kind of simplified literature. In pure and interesting pattern, it tells about our native or even the whole human beings’ profound morality and justices, affection, appreciation of beauty, and intuitive knowledge. Through imagination, heroism and recreation, the three effective weapons, it accomplishes its pursuance after aesthetics and art. However, all of these must be ethically healthy, without violence and sex, which shows the first important guarantee to purity of children’s literature spirit. Source for creating children’s literature should contain the ingredient of morality. Searching for sources to create children’s literature, you should grasp profoundly children’s point of views and their appreciation of beauty. Only in this way can you write things that actually move yourself, move children, and meanwhile move the whole human beings.

It is not easy to move children. Children’s vision, mentality and admission are greatly different from that of adults’. For example, children at different ages have different cognitions to all things in the world and to life and death. As I remembered, I once had dinner with a group of children in a summer camp. There was a boy, who ate in restaurant for the first time. He used napkin while eating, with the understanding that “by using napkin, soup would not pour onto your coat”, which is the same as adults’. However, his next word is “but pour directly onto your knees”. It is shown that children’s acceptance of life is the most basic, real and natural. Therefore, in order to work out the truly splendid children’s literature, it is not enough merely using your intelligence and skill in art exploration and in the layer of expression. It is a must to chase after spiritual life of sincere foresight, and spurt the passion and spiritual motivation for creation out of enriched elegant soul, passion to nature and human beings, research and study of classics, and perspicacity of living background in childhood and children’s life at present era.

Children’s literature with art value and strong vitality will become a type of doughty objective existence, entering into social sight, spreading and developing, slowly becoming classics, and being accumulation of culture and children’s literature subject.

Power from author’s heart is forever the most pretty sweet dew for literature. By reading, children can find the words, fun, affection and various experiences that flow out of author’s heart. Certainly, it is wonderful to share the experiences in literature journey with children, but the most valuable thing is to spread all those active experiences to children. Those feelings deeply hidden in the heart might not be summarized right now and seems to be obscure, but it is the spiritual treasure for children to enjoy, which is the most brilliant.