A Cross-Cultural Conversation Between Two Master Storytellers at the 2017 USBBY Conference

By Minjie Chen and David Jacobson

The 12th United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) Regional Conference was held in Seattle, Washington October 20-22, 2017. The theme of the conference was “Radical Change Beyond Borders: The Transforming Power of Children’s Literature in a Digital Age.” For the first time, a speaker from China—author Cao Wenxuan曹文轩—was invited to deliver the biennial Dorothy Briley Memorial Lecture at the USBBY Regional Conference. USBBY is one of the national sections of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), the organization that gives the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Awards and selected Cao as the winning author in 2016. Continue reading

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“Plums” for Your Tongue: Chinese Children’s Literature for Language Learners

One question I repeatedly hear from Chinese immigrant parents and Chinese language teachers in America is, where can they find books that children would enjoy reading at the same time as improving their Chinese. As we know about literacy acquisition and language learning, continual and active engagement with texts, through either shared reading with caregivers or voluntary independent reading, is crucial to the expansion of vocabulary, mastery of grammar, and growth in comprehension and composition skills. Continue reading

The King of Hide-and-Seek

The King of Hide-and-Seek [躲猫猫大王] / written by Zhang Xiaoling 张晓玲; illustrated by Pan Jian 潘坚. Jinan, China: Ming tian chu ban she, 2008.

When I first came to the United States and lived in a campus town, I was struck by how often I encountered people in wheelchairs—maneuvering coolly on the street, wheeling onto buses that knelt gracefully before letting down a ramp, shopping in the store, and studying in classrooms and libraries. “Why is there a higher rate of disability in the US than in China?” I wondered for a moment before realizing my mistake. The accessibility-compliant public facilities and educational services in the university allowed more people with disabilities to carry on active, and visible, social and academic lives.  Continue reading

A Brief History of Chinese Literature for Children, What Sells Now, and More

My last post focused on a single question posed by Marcia Lynx Qualey, initiator of #WorldKidLit Month (September). In fact, during our conversation, she asked more questions, and these went into a second blogpost on 30 September, a timely coincidence as 30 September is International Translation Day! Again, many thanks to Marcia for allowing me to cross-post the second piece here. Continue reading

The Reason for Being Late

Haven’t we all searched for a good reason for being late–one that has the appearance of being legitimate, that is beyond our control, and that we hope to give to our friends, teachers, and colleagues without having to own our faults? In The Reason for Being Late (迟到的理由), a delightful picture book by a 26-year-old Chinese artist named Yao Jia (姚佳), a piglet does just that in an unnervingly quiet school hallway, searching hard for the best reason to give to his second-grade teacher before timidly pushing open the door to his classroom. Continue reading