Swindon children’s author Neil Griffiths returned in early December from a visit to Hong Kong and China where he ran early years’ reading workshops at after-school centres and schools.
In China he toured remote schools for the charity Reading Dreams, where there is a huge desire for children to learn English, and to talk to publishers about producing his 32 books in Chinese. Neil said: “Parents in the more rural parts are desperate for their children to learn English so that they can keep up with those in the better resourced urban areas.
“Having been to China a few times now I’ve been struck by how few illustrated children’s books there are. My interactive way of communicating was a bit of a surprise at first but the children and parents were soon off their seats and doing all the actions to make the stories come alive.”
Whilst in Hong Kong Neil paid a visit to Swindon Book Co. in Kowloon where he posed with The Link.
In the October 2002 edition of Swindon Council’s magazine Swindon News, company director Daisy Li explained the business was established in 1918 but adopted the new name in 1936 when it moved to new premises. It was fashionable for commercial enterprises to have a western name, often a capital city like London, Paris or New York.
The manager of the time Lee Kin used two Chinese characters meaning ‘making a breakthrough at the auspicious hour.’ The anglicised version the local Cantonese dialect pronunciation sounds like ‘Swindon.’
Apparently Mr Lee knew of the town’s Great Western Railway works and as the shop is close to the terminus of the railway line which connects Kowloon to all the major cities of China, the coincidence of factors made Swindon Books an auspicious choice.
Ms Li said: “With hindsight, it is also fortuitous that we bear the name of a city that is the selected headquarters of the best-known high street bookseller in the UK – WH Smith.”
Swindon Book Co. and associated companies now have six outlets and stocks the most comprehensive range of English language books and magazines in the region.
It is also a major supplier of educational textbooks to the enormous educational market, from primary to university level.
See Neil: www.cornertolearn.co.uk