The Book Club
A non-profit Project
Our founder Melissa and her classmate, Yin, met on the first day of school in the beautiful campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Both were determined to learn to be the change agents of language teaching. Both soaked up skills and knowledge with languages and teaching and further opened the doors to the fascinating world of books and literature. Melissa pursued a masters degree in Children Literature in Australia when Yin equipped herself as an established librarian. The classmates turned life-long friends now have found themselves both in the UK working to help students of different backgrounds with their education as an overseas education consultant and librarian, respectively. Both have become parents and have found there are lessons to learn if new immigrants like them would like to pass on the language heritage of Chinese to their next generation. They have started mobilizing their literature and language teaching network in Hong Kong and other Chinese communities to build a garden that helps Chinese parents help their children learn Chinese through books and beyond in the most enjoyable way.
What is the sponsored program about?
The Book Club is a non-profit making project sponsored by UK Education Garden. The project aims to help first/second generation of Chinese immigrant families pass on the language, culture and the joy of reading as a life-long learning skill and a hobby. Reading at home should not be a passive way of learning new words and expressions. With the right methods, it promotes communication and parent-children relationship through this shared experience when parents and children engage in any extended activities. Many children books touch upon cultures from the tip of the cultural iceberg, such as festivals and foods, to deeper meanings like the importance of respecting the elders in Chinese culture. Besides Chinese culture, Traditional Chinese children books also promote the cultures of other countries. It helps children to establish their identity by knowing about where their families are from. Besides, Traditional Chinese has its unique beauty that genuinely reflects the culture and authentic history of the language.
3. Why is it called a book garden?
As a young parent, our founder, Melissa, knows the importance of language and passing on the cultural tradition to children. She found it hard for parents in the UK and Europe to get a good selection of Chinese children books without doing extensive research and paying a high shipping fee. Hence, no ideas what books would be best for immigrant children. After hearing from other peer parents who are experienced librarians, teachers and professionals in relevant fields, she believes UK Education Garden can take a step forward to build a book garden alongside. She hopes to plant reading seeds to assist like-minded parents in passing on of the language and cultures brought upon and the joy of reading in general. She is a true believer in 'you reap as you sow'.
4. Who run the book club?
As an extension to the consultancy services provided by UK Education Garden, the book club sponsored by the company as volunteer work and parents are recruited as volunteers. As the key gardeners, founder Melissa and volunteer parents help maintain the Facebook Page, book ordering logistics, recommend good books, share news on reading and activities that extend from book reading. Besides, the book club holds online reading sessions with the supports of storytelling experts.
5. A glimpse of our future development
In the coming 5 years, our team and volunteers will expand the recommended book lists sourced globally. We would love to see our children growing up understanding the language and culture of their families and using the same tools to learn how to communicate with people from different backgrounds and appreciate the beauty of other cultures.
Why is reading important?
Reading is the most popular hobby worldwide. It is accessible since it is inexpensive (or sometimes free), and it allows everyone to explore new and exciting worlds beyond our everyday life and thus expand our knowledge.
Reading is important because words - spoken and written - are the building blocks of life. We are who we are because of the words we have heard or read. Words and sentences teach us what to say and how to think, and so reading books for children is like absorbing nutrients for plants. The book club as a garden hopes to be the ground full of these nutrients.
Besides, it is entertaining, and it helps reduce stress. There is an endless list of benefits of reading. Reading together with young children is one of the most important learning activities and handy entertainment that can be done in the simplest setting.
Why is it essential for children growing up in a foreign culture to read in their mother tongue?
The way we talk, the language we speak, and the environment we grow up and live in reflect who we are and where we belong. It is confusing for all children whose parents speak one language at home when the outside world speaks the other.
Children are attached to their parents because they are the care providers, and children are often curious about their parents' past, what they say and what they do. None of us can escape from how our mother tongue has made us speak the way we communicate and think the way we think. Moreover, certain words and emotions can only be expressed in the mother tongue.
By explicitly doing Traditional Chinese reading, children would experience contexts other than what happens at home. Children can be exposed to others would think and react in different situations within Chinese culture. By active discussion, reading would eventually give tools to Children to distinguish the differences in language use and cultures between where their families are from and the immediate environment they live in. In the future, it may even help them to communicate better with people from diverse language and cultural backgrounds. Moreover, bilingual speakers are often said to be more intelligent, and flexible and have better problem-solving skills.