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Picture books a stepping stone for children

PICTURE books can cultivate children's taste in art from an early age. Through June 30 there will be lectures and exhibitions featuring winners from the Bologna International Children's Book Fair at Think Town, a scientific education base in Shanghai targeting children from 3 to 11 years old.

Intending to bring creative fairy stories to more children and parents, the event is trying to prove that anyone can be Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish author most famous for his fairy tales - as long as they try to explore life with their hearts.

Most of the speakers come from Taiwan. Stories about their childhood and painting experiences will be shared and admission is free.

Pang Yawen, an artist whose first picture book was selected by the 2001 Bologna International Children's Book Fair, made her first trip to Shanghai during the May Day holiday and gave a lecture themed "The Mystery Behind Picture Books."

"Picture books have irreplaceable charm. They have simple words which play an important role in the development of language, imagination, aesthetics and creativity for children," Pang says.

"The world is as pure as we see in fairy tales. We can be ordinary and down to earth but there is an infinite imagination in our minds. Imagination is what kids live upon. Reading picture books can give them the wings to fly."

Pang graduated from the Academy of Art University at St Francisco, majoring in illustration. Her picture book "A Fox Lays On Eggs" and "Doggie Scar Wants To Be A Sheep" have sold more than 10,000 copies worldwide.

Her works are full of fun and humor, making every page's picture a unique creation, and her warm style featuring colorful animals has been well-received by readers.

"The participation of parents is important. Reading stories to children will not only maintain a close relationship with them but also extend their interest in reading," she says.

"Sometimes with props, the effect will be more obvious. Reading picture books improves children's understanding of pictures and life. They will be enlightened when they find out what's behind the simple plot."

For her, the trip to Shanghai was a new and exciting experience that brought inspiration. Pang says she hopes that more children will fly freely in the sky of fairy tales.


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