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Every two years, we hold National Early Children’s Reading Development and Education Conference, bringing top national and international scholars, teachers, organizations together. 


National Early Children’s Reading Development and Education Conference in 2017

On 18 November 2017, the first National Early Children’s Reading Development and Education Conference is held in Shenzhen with the theme “Early Children’s Reading and a Better Future”.


The conference brings together prominent scholars, experts, kindergarten teachers and children’s reading charitable organizations.

Opening speeches


The conference began with a welcome speech by the the organizer of this conference the iRead Foundation’s Director General Li Wen who said: “I hope this conference will allow us to see, understand and discuss all the problems, resources and successes in early children’s reading.”



“We need to create a better environment for our children,” President of Shenzhen Women’s Federation Ms. Ma added, “when constructing a children friendly city, reading should be an important foundation. So I hope everyone can work together to build a such city.”

Global views on early children’s reading


“Reading picture books can support a very warm parent-child relationship as well as children’s cognitive development. However, just giving children’s books cannot achieve this. The most important thing is the conversation between parents and the child when reading the book.”


Professor Catherine Snow from Harvard University is an expert on language and literacy development in children. She stressed that children’s literacy development is complicated social learning. Children develop their literacy through actively interacting with adults. During this process, adults, especially family reading environment, is vitally important.


Snow also mentioned: “if we can help children develop their narrative ability, it will also improve their language development and literacy in the future. We have found that parents who pay greater attention to details of their children’s growth can help their children develop better narrative skills. Similarly, the bigger the children’s vocabulary is, the better their narrative skills are. This is a cycle.”


Exploring China’s new strategies in early children’s reading


According a number of researches, children’s physical and psychological development is closely connected to parenting ideas and methods. For many years, the National Health and Family Planning Commission has paid close attention to this area, tirelessly promoting better parenting ideas.



The Secretary of Party Committee of the National Health and Family Planning Commission Cadre Training Centre Cai Jianhua talked about the challenges related to early children’s reading in the project “Raising Children Scientifically”. He said: “In China, there are around 50 million children aged 0-3 years. In the next few years, the number will rise to around 55 million. Rural families are still struggling with poverty; in the cities there are also low-income families. I think at least one third of the children are still living in poverty or at the risk of falling into poverty.  So what we care about the most is how to change their lives and to include everyone in our progress. If 0.1% of our GDP is invested in this area, I believe China will have a brighter future.”


Report on the effectiveness of 0-3 year olds’ parent-child reading published



Led by Dr. Chen Si and Professor Snow, the research team from Harvard University assessed the effectiveness of Reading Start. After analyzing the data collected, the research has found that Reading Start program has a significant and positive impact on parent-child reading in families with 0-3 year olds.


Compared with children who have not participated in Reading Start, participated children’s vocabulary’s development has improved significantly. Through Reading Start, parents also better understand high quality parent-child education. They generally agree that children should have access to more picture books, interaction with children is important and they should read more themselves.


Dr. Chen Si said: “After participating in Reading Start for half a year, parents significantly changed their attitudes toward children’s reading. Behind these positive changes is Shenzhen parents’ passion for parent-child reading. We are very very pleased to see parents’ change, because this is the key to changing family reading environment.” When the backpacks for 3-6 years are being distributed, there will be more research tracking children’s development. In the future, we will continue to answer questions about the mechanism affecting children’s reading. ”


Starting in November, Reading Start backpacks for 3-6 years will be distributed to Shenzhen residents



Reading Start is a non-profit program for preschoolers and their families co-launched by the iRead Foundation and the Shenzhen government. It is currently the largest early children’s reading intervention program in Chinese. As the first systematic program promoting early children’s reading in China, Reading Start distributes reading backpacks, establishes a volunteer system, and sets up information platforms to advocate the importance of early children’s reading.


Reading Start distributes backpacks to all Shenzhen residents for free. In each backpack, there are two age-related picture books for the children and two books for the parents. For the parents, one book recommends 60 picture books, and the other one provides parent-child reading guidance. 


Since the launch of Reading Start in April 2016, 24 collection points have been set up in Shenzhen, covering every district. More than 30,000 backpacks have been collected.

The iRead Foundation will continue distributing backpacks in Shenzhen. All children born after 1 January 2013 in mainland China with either parent holding valid Shenzhen residential card are entitled to collecting two Reading Start backpacks, one between 0-3 years, the other one between 3-6 years.

Shenzhen Aiding Public Welfare Foundation

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