89. “My Favourite Children’s Books” – children in China vote for their Top 30 books of 2019

The  “My Favourite Children’s Books” (我最喜爱的童书) titles of 2019 have just been announced. The winning books are selected by children (the first award of its kind in China). [The awards are similar to the annual Children’s Book Awards in the UK – if you’d like to compare, the UK list starts with 50, is shortlisted to 10 – here’s the 2019 list, which has 3 winners and 7 runners-up.]

“My Favourite Children’s Books” was initiated by Shenzhen Children’s Library 深圳少年儿童图书馆 in 2014, and this year’s list was the sixth. The 2019 awards were co-organised by 39 provincial and city libraries. From January 2019, 5455 books were recommended by 129 institutions and 207 individuals. A panel of 9 experts was involved (see below). 100,000 books were purchased and distributed to 312 schools in 39 provinces and cities across China. A total of 1,309,111 votes were cast.

A total of 30 books (2019年我最喜爱的童书30强) have been selected, 10 in each category: literature, picture books, information books. It’s remarkable how many of these are translations from English and other languages, and how the awards appear to boost distribution and sales of the selected books (and sets of the winning books).

This post is based on the online account published on Wechat/Weixin by Tiantian chubanshe (Tomorrow Publishing House), on 28 Oct 2019.  I’ve added links to all the Chinese books, as listed on the Shenzhen Children’s Library website (which has additional information about the books). I’ve tried to identify the English and foreign titles of these Top 30 books, to make this list more accessible to English readers, and to provide weblinks where possible (many thanks to Minjie Chen for her help). I’ve also created a pdf (see below) showing the covers of all the books, side by side with the covers of the foreign titles.

The expert panel

  • LIN Wenbao 林文宝  (Taiwan) – expert in children’s reading
  • WANG Yizhen 王宜振  – writer of children’s literature, poet
  • ZHOU Mimi 周蜜蜜 – member, Hong Kong Writers Association
  • DING Xiaoqing 丁筱青 – Associate Professor, Yangzhou College of Education
  • GUO Hua 郭骅 – expert in children’s literature and psychology
  • DAI Yingyuan 戴颖媛 – national reading promoter, Shenzhen
  • YAO Haijun 姚海军 – deputy editor, Science Fiction World magazine
  • XI Zhinong 奚志农 – wildlife photographer
  • SHI Jun 史军 – botanist; member, Songshuhui-Association of Science Communicators

(1) Literature Category – Winners


Gold, silver and bronze titles (source of images: Douban)

Gold: [冰] 安德里·斯奈·德纳森/著;[冰]奥丝拉格·琼斯多特尔/绘;刘清彦/译 《蓝色星星的孩子国》(贵州出版集团   贵州人民出版社)-  The Story of the Blue Planet, by Andri Snaer Magnason (Iceland), tr. LIU Qingyan  (total votes: 58,141)

Silver: [美] 米歇尔·奎瓦斯/著;黄鸿砚/译 《我是你的隐形朋友》 (天津出版传媒集团  新蕾出版社)  –  Confessions of an Imaginary Friend, by Michelle Cuevas (USA), tr. HUANG Hongyan  (total votes: 51090)

Bronze: [日] 角野荣子/著;[日]大庭贤哉/绘;魏雯/译 《隧道的森林》(长江出版传媒   长江少年儿童出版社)   –  《トンネルの森1945》 [The Tunnel Through the Woods], by Eiko Kadano (Japan), tr. WEI Wen   (total votes: 45966)

Honorable Mentions:

(2) Picture Book Category – Winners

Gold, silver and bronze titles (source of images: Douban)

Gold: [澳] 娜奥米·亨特/文;[澳]卡伦·伊拉斯谟/图;李剑敏/译, 《可以倾诉的秘密》 (河北出版传媒集团   河北教育出版社)   –  A Secret Safe to Tell, by Naomi Hunter (Australia), tr. Li Jianmin  (total votes: 63035)

Silver: [美] 克雷·莱斯/文图;侯春鹏/译 《捡到一根魔法棍》 (北京师范大学出版集团   北京师范大学出版社) –  The Stick, by Clay Rice (USA), tr. HOU Chunpeng   (total votes: 62406)

Bronze: [俄罗斯] 伊戈尔·欧尼科夫/著;沈念驹/译 《老鼠的房子》 (云南出版集团公司    云南科技出版社)   –  [The Mouse House], by Igor Oleynikov (Russia), tr. Shen Nianju  (total votes: 61042)

Honorable Mentions:

(3) Information Books – Winners

Gold, silver and bronze titles (source of images: Douban)

Gold: 宋大昭 黄巧雯/著;李亚亚/绘  《我与大自然的奇妙相遇·寻觅兽类》 (人民文学出版社  天天出版社)   –    [My Wonderful Encounter with Nature: Looking for Beasts] by SONG Dazhao and HUANG Qiaowen, illus. Li Yaya   (total votes:46981)

Silver: [美] 陈振盼/著绘;何锴/译 《一座岛的600万年》 (长江出版传媒   长江少年儿童出版社)  –  Island: A Story of the Galapagos, by Jason Chin (USA), tr. HE Kai   (total votes: 45633)

Bronze: 光诸/著;光诸 夏小茶/绘 《用两万年修厕所》 (天津出版传媒集团  新蕾出版社)   –  [20,000 years of building toilets], by GUANG Zhu, illus. GUANG Zhu and XIA Xiaocha   (total votes:45477)

Honorable Mentions:

Here’s a pdf (2019 – My Favourite Chinese Books pdf) showing all 30 titles, with their covers, alongside the covers of original foreign books of those titles that have been translated.

73. Our first 72 posts!

Here’s a list of our first 72 posts! Thank you to everyone who has helped us along the way, to our guest-writers and interviewees, and, of course, to our readers!

               Images selected from posts 61-72

Continue reading

68. The Cao Wenxuan Children’s Literature Award

Since Cao Wenxuan is the most famous writer of children’s literature in China and also the one most well-known abroad, it was no surprise that there would eventually be a prize in his name. In fact, there are already two: The Bronze and Sunflower Award 青铜葵花奖 and the Cao Wenxuan Children’s Literature Award 曹文轩儿童文学奖. The Cao Wenxuan Children’s Literature Award was inaugurated in April 2017, with the aim to promote children’s literature in China, to encourage young writers, to promote Chinese literature abroad and to make Jiangsu province a major centre for the development of children’s literature in China. Continue reading

65. “The Tortoise Family Goes to the Sea” and “Blind Little Red Riding Hood”


Cover of The Tortoise Family Goes to the Sea (Chinese edition)

One of the many Chinese awards for picture books is the Feng Zikai Children’s Picture Book Award 丰子恺儿童图画书奖. The latest, and 5th, awards were announced last summer and I’ve recently read two of the books on that list – one that won an award, and one that had to make do with getting included in the shortlist (no small feat).  Continue reading

62. The NCTA Freeman Book Awards

The 2017 NCTA Freeman Book Awards have just been announced. I’m delighted that Bronze and Sunflower has won the young adult/middle school literature award, and that An’s Seed received an honourable mention. I didn’t really know what the Freeman awards were about. Who better to ask than David Jacobson, whose book Are You an Echo? received an honourable mention last year to tell us about the prize, and what winning meant to him.  Continue reading

49. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival 2017

Meng Yanan’s picture book Happy Mid-Autumn Festival  (孟亚楠:《中秋节快乐》) won the gold prize in the 2016 Bronze and Sunflower Picture Book Awards 青铜葵花图画书奖. Congratulations to Meng Yanan, and Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to everyone! Continue reading

46. The Only Child, by Guojing

The Only Child by Guojing was published to great acclaim in 2015. The following year it was published in China (郭婧: 《独生小孩》). This “silent book” (wordless picture book) tells the story of a little girl and her deep feeling of loneliness. The title and the setting – Guojing’s memory of her own childhood in China – makes an English reader immediately think of The One Child Policy in China. Introduced in 1979, the phasing out of this policy began in 2015, and families are now allowed two children. Li Xiaocui, a young professional in Beijing, has been reading The Only Child with her three-year-old daughter, and very kindly agreed to an interview. She is known to some of us as Lisa, who does a phenomenal job at Candied Plums, sharing the best of China’s new picture books with readers around the world. Continue reading