English book series looks to teach teens about China
Published: Mar 09, 2023 10:48 PM
Photo: Courtesy of the Center for Language Education and Cooperation

Photo: Courtesy of the Center for Language Education and Cooperation

A seminar about China in Stories - a book series in both Chinese and English that explores China's 5,000 years of history and culture as well as decodes the country's path to modernization - kicked off in Beijing on Thursday. Experts in cultural communication and language research sectors said the book series sets an example for how to tell the world Chinese stories.

Proposed by New Channel International Education Group and published by Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, the book series covers the history, culture and development of China's provinces and regions, aiming to show the real China and convey the concept of "China's path to modernization" to the world. 

Aimed at teen readers in China and abroad, the series manages to explore China's profound culture and wisdom while using simple and straightforward language, Wu Yaowu, one of the translators and vice president of Xi'an International Studies University in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, told the Global Times on Thursday.

William N. Brown, a US professor from Xiamen University in East China's Fujian Province and special advisor of the book series, told the Global Times that the series will give readers a much broader understanding of the background of China. 

"Most foreigners, especially Americans, know very little about Chinese history or culture. All they know is what they read in the media, which is modern and not very positive, but I believe this series will open the eyes of those that read it," he said.

Having lived in China for over three decades, Brown said he has witnessed the major developments in the country and that the Chinese path to modernization is worth studying.

"What I most admire about China's path to modernization is that it is built purely on economic and business principles, and peaceful coexistence, which is the principle that they followed thousands of years ago. The Chinese government runs the country based on the needs of the people which they resolve with scientific research and principles… After my own seven years of military service, I appreciate that China has never used its power and size to exploit distant nations," Brown said, adding that he will be the editor of the volume on Fujian Province.

Brown pointed out that these stories show how both ancient and modern Chinese people have struggled individually and as a nation to achieve their dreams. People in the world appreciate these timeless tales of love for family and country, integrity, faithfulness, self-sacrifice, persistence, love of beauty and especially China's age-old love of peace.

The first volume in the series, Shaanxi, a Cradle of Chinese Civilization, was published in both Chinese and English in late December 2022. The book gives a sound introduction to the province through 50 stories divided into six categories: cultural icons, clothing, art, outstanding figures, achievements and spirit. The volume is scheduled to be published in the US and the UK in the future, according to Wu. 

"The selection of Shaanxi Province as the beginning point of the China in Stories series is of great significance because the place is one of the important birthplaces of ancient Chinese civilization and 13 Chinese dynasties built their capitals there," Huang Youyi, former vice president of China Foreign Languages Publishing Administration and executive vice president of the Translators Association of China, who has read the book, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Volumes about the cities of Shanghai, Hunan, Tianjin, Henan, Guangxi and Chongqing are next in line to be published, according to the Center for Language Education and Cooperation under China's Ministry of Education on Thursday.