Beijing's kids in Wonderland

Updated: 2011-10-21 10:19

By Mei Jia (China Daily)

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Beijing's kids in Wonderland 

Holding her favorite book The Little House by American author Virginia Lee Burton, 22-year-old Wang Miao says she has finally found her dream job - recommending and reading books to children.

Dressed in bright yellow overalls, Wang is one of the 80 "Reading Helpers" at the Children Reading Experience Wonderland, in Beijing.

Wonderland, opened in late September, specializes in books for children and is owned by China Children's Press and Publication Group.

Instead of having shop assistants help run the business, Wonderland employs a group of Reading Helpers like Wang.

Wang works in the section for children aged from 4 to 6. She's a picture-book lover and enjoys sharing the stories with the young readers.

Wang says she and her colleagues read more than 300 kinds of children's books, in order to be qualified for the job.

Zhao Jun, a Beijing mother, says she got some useful tips from Wang when shopping for her 5-year-old son Yue Yue.

"The Reading Helper helps me in making good choices," the mother says. "We also discuss how to help the kids develop a reading habit."

Zhao describes the 5,000- square-meter bookstore as a "wonderland for kids".

Yue Yue, enjoys pushing around his small-sized shopping cart and adding books to it, and even goes up to the cashier himself.

The bookstore is child centered, says Wang Yang, deputy manager of Wonderland.

Beijing's kids in Wonderland

"We believe a dedicated space for young readers is the key to fostering their interest in reading, which will greatly benefit their futures," Wang says.

Wonderland offers not only a fun reading and shopping experience for youngsters, but also plays host to a variety of activities for parents, teachers, publishers and writers, Wang adds.

The two-story Wonderland is home to 60,000 kinds of books, 2,000 of which are in English, and related products, for children and youngsters aged from 0 to 18, and their parents.

A professional performing troupe will soon start to stage regular shows at Wonderland. Children, aged 4-12, can take part in performances.

Wonderland also offers education courses to parents and their children under age 6, and introduces a team of "Hearty Sisters" to offer psychological counselling to children.

Other regular activities for children include making personal picture books, board game contests and book clubs.