First community 'reading marathon' brings young and old together to read

Jing’an District Library doesn’t open on Thursday mornings, but this morning the library was full of readers who were there to take part in a reading marathon.

Jing’an District Library doesn’t normally open on Thursday mornings, but this morning the library was full of readers who were there to take part in the community's first 'reading marathon'.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Within 2.5 hours, the readers, about 100 of them, were supposed to finish reading 150 pages of a 400-paged book, and then take a closed-book, written test. Notes were allowed to be taken during reading time.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The book was A Reader on Chinese Culture (Zhongguo Wenhua Duben), which includes aspects of Chinese culture such as philosophical thoughts, ancient inventions, architectural achievements and art.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The test, which contained 30 true-or-false and multiple-choice questions, was completed on the readers’ mobile phones.

Chen Huizhi / SHINE

The “marathon” started at 8:30am, and prizes for the fastest reader and the reader with the highest score were given at a ceremony starting at 11am, while all readers who submitted a written text of evaluation of the book were rewarded with a medal.

Gu Xiaoyu, a 14-year-old girl, won one of the top prizes for scoring full marks on the test, after finishing reading in one hour and 22 minutes.

"Many others in the same room finished reading before me, but I was in no rush and hoped to get a score as high as possible," she told Shanghai Daily.

The reading marathon, an idea initiated by a local cultural company, has been held in cooperation with Shanghai Library and a few other district libraries before, but this was the first time that the participants were recruited from residential communities.

Today’s event was organized by Shanghai Civilization Office, a governmental institution which promotes social morality, together with its branch office in Jing’an District.

Jiang Tao, founder of Yuema, the company behind the reading marathon, said holding the event for community residents, who come in all age groups, was challenging but exciting.

“While most participants in library reading marathons are young people who are good at technology, older readers often have problems using our test system, but we were there to help them,” he said.

Chen Huizhi / SHINE

Jiang Tao (in the middle) with two participants of the reading marathon.

The full-length format of the marathon lasts six hours, and today’s event was a variation tailor-made to the profile of the participants.

Shanghai Civilization Office intends to hold further marathons in more local communities in the future, and some people in neighboring Zhejiang Province have even expressed interest in holding this special event, Jiang added.

“People who don’t keep a reading habit often read only a few pages a day and end up never finishing the book, so finding a few hours to read and, more importantly, in an efficient way, proves to be helpful for them to become true readers,” he said.

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