Taipei, April 23 (CNA) First lady Chow Mei-ching took on the role of storyteller Monday, telling children about Chinese culture on World Book and Copyright Day and the anniversary of William Shakespeare's death.
Chou introduced the children at National Central Library in Taipei to the historical, artistic and cultural aspects of the famed painting Along the River During the Qingming Festival, a 12-century scroll depicting festive civilian life in Sung Dynasty (960-1279) in China.
In a departure from its previous focus on picture books to improve children's reading comprehension, the library decided to emphasize text literacy by promoting poems this year, said Tseng Shu-hsien, director general of the library.
In light of Taiwanese students' poor performance in the reading comprehension part of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test in recent years, the library hopes to cultivate interest in reading by having poets and academics read to people in rural areas around Taiwan, Tseng said.
In the PISA reading comprehension, Taiwan slipped from the 16th in the world rankings in 2006 to 23rd among the 65 countries that participated in the 2009 PISA study, which was conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The program, conducted every three years, tests the scholastic performance of 15-year-old students in mathematics, science, and reading.
In 2009, the two global top performers were China and South Korea, while Hong Kong placed fourth, Singapore fifth, and Japan eighth, according to data from the Taiwan PISA National Center.
However, Taiwan was ranked ahead of Denmark (24th) and Britain (25th placed). Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling said that the ministry will devise programs to improve reading proficiency among local students.
April 23 was designated as World Book and Copyright Day by the United Nations to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property and to mark the anniversary of death of literary titans including Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes and Shakespeare.
(By Hsu Chih-wei and Scully Hsaio)