Nezha defeats Harry Potter in China

UPDATED: 17:33, June 15, 2007

Facing the challenge of influential foreign animation and fantasy literature such as the Harry Potter series, China's children's authors have not diverged from their dedication to works of value, cultural responsibility and social awareness. Instead, they have gradually paved a new literary path that relates to the modern era, is relevant to real life scenarios of today's youth and children, and easy for the young readers of the 21st century to accept and embrace; traditional characters such as Nezha and the Monkey King (Sun Wukong) are timeless favorites in Chinese children's reading materials and have touched many children's hearts.

Original domestic children's literature represents almost half the market

Reporter: In the publishing industry, domestic children's literature has been faring remarkably well. What are your views regarding this phenomenon?

Quan Gen (Beijing Normal University professor, famous commentator): China's modern children's literature was "big at the two ends, but lacking in the middle" for a relatively long time. There was an abundant amount of good literature for preschoolers and high school students; there were a lot of creations which were both of good quality and profitability. In comparison, literature appropriate for kids in primary school was quite weak. However, the arrival of the new century finally saw some fundamental changes in this previously lacking area. Especially in these past couple of years, children's literature has really caught up.

According to related statistics, at present there is a trend of "the east wind overriding the west wind" with regards to reading material for children. Original domestic children's literature fixed price represents almost half of the market's proportion.

Bai Bing (Children's author, Chief Editor of Jieli Publishing House): That is indeed the case. According to my statistics, in April of 2007, original domestic children's literature represented over 80% of the nation-wide best-seller's list.

Enhancement of non-adults' mental morality in society and the development of children's literature to create a good social environment are related to this scenario. At the same time, the decrease of the strategic status of teaching materials in youth publishing houses has resulted in the rise of common books' strategic status. This has forced youth publishing houses to value sales work, objectively increasing children's literature's market value. The import of topnotch foreign children's literature has also stimulated and influenced the creation and the publication of original domestic works.

The most important point however is that with China's children's author's creative and artistic maturity, there are new elements in the spirit, ideas and other areas of the children's books; the final result is an increase in the quality of original children's literature.

Chinese culture highly values spiritual substance

Reporter: Today's youth are still relatively influenced by foreign children's literature including animations from Korea and Japan. As a children's author, what do you have to say on this topic?

Ge Jing (Author of literature for youth): I am a professor of scriptwriting at a film school. When I see students infatuated with animations from Japan and the US, imitating the characters, using them as a model for what is 'cool' and 'having character', I really get worried. Faced with such cultural invasions, as an artist, one must study how these works win the hearts of children through interest level, vividness, and by highlighting the characteristics of the modern era.

When I teach the students in my writing class, I especially emphasize that China's cultural substance is definitely not simply restricted to racial subjects. Spiritual substance is more important: What is the Chinese spirit, what are Chinese children's thoughts.

In my newest piece, I tried to create a truly intelligent character in the image of a Chinese youth. He is not only independent, resourceful, humorous, but what is more is that he has a good heart, determination, and emotion; he listens to his heart more than his brain. I want to present this modern Chinese child's image to his peers, to make young readers not only relate to him but to also be impressed by him, to let them feel China's unique spiritual substance through this subtle influence.

By People's Daily Online


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