At the 2014 Annual Nationwide Reading Meeting held at Hunan Library from November 11-13, the thesis “A Practical Exploration of Reading Promotion Activities for Rural Adolescents” submitted by Zhang Hongli from the library of The Open University of China (OUC) stood out from 402 theses sent by 361 libraries and 14 publishing houses and bookstores nationally and won the first prize.

The meeting was jointly organized by China Publishing Group, the TaoFen Foundation, China Xinhua Bookstore Association and the Reading Promotion Committee of the Library Society of China. 

Based on the OUC’s “Hand in Hand: Reading Activities for Rural Adolescents” project, the thesis systematically explored the basic state, organisational structure, participants, content design, publicity and promotion, results, and existing problems during the four years since the project began, and put forward specific suggestions and thoughts. 

“Hand in Hand: Reading Activity for Rural Adolescents” is a reading promotion project geared towards rural adolescents, launched in 2010 by the Library Society of China. The subject of the project is “Nourishing the fertile soil of the soul with books”. The project focuses on cultivating the reading habits and interests of rural adolescents and driving the development of reading promotion work in surrounding areas by exploring the construction of “rural RTVU book houses” equipped with integrated reading resources and related service functions in rural primary and secondary schools, in combination with a series of fun themed activities. 

After four years of cultivation and development, “Hand in Hand: Reading Activity for Rural Adolescents” has constructed 155 “rural RTVU book houses” in 155 rural primary and secondary schools in 28 provinces around the country. It has formed a series of themed reading items, attracting the participation of more than three million teachers and students from open universities, rural adolescents, and villagers. It has become a social reading brand that has won a high degree of social attention. It has the following five features: firstly, the organization and implementation of the project fully depends on the systematic advantages of the network of open universities that are located all over the country. Secondly, the content design conforms to the general operating procedure of investigation, planning, implementation and evaluation. Thirdly, it promotes multi-lateral cooperation and has enlarged the sphere of influence of the project. Fourthly, it has set up a summary and evaluation system to make the project sustainable in the long term. Lastly, the promotion and planning efforts have been intensified in order to enlarge the social influence of the project.  

The project has been selected as one of the key guiding and supporting projects as part of the “2010 Nationwide Reading Action Plan” announced by the central ministries of the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the CPC and the Central Spirit Civilization Office. Throughout a range of reading promotion evaluation events hosted by the Library Society of China, articles or case studies that take the project as their basis have won one best case study award, three first prizes and two second prizes. Experience activities have been carried out at a number of reading promotion meetings. The library of the OUC won “Advanced Unit Promoting Nationwide Reading” in 2008 and in 2009, and in 2010 was awarded the honor of “Nationwide Reading Demonstration Base”.

By Zhang Hongli, the OUC