Confucius said: No matter how busy you may think you are you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.
One of my favourite places in Tainan is the Literature Museum. The building is built in the European style of the early 1900’s when Japan colonised Taiwan. It served different purposes during its lifetime and since 2003 it is the only museum dedicated to literature in Taiwan.
Here one can find collections of works in Taiwanese, Mandarin, Classic Chinese and Japanese. You will also find recordings of the many indigenous languages spoken in Taiwan. There is also a hall honouring (or should I say honoring) American authors.
Its a huge building with many exhibition spaces, a cafe, a curio shop, and a big open space where students and the public in general can relax and read or as one of the brochures says “ just make use of the free AC during a hot Tainan day”.
On my first visit here I was with students on a school outing. When they saw the children’s reading room they were out of their shoes and sprawled over sofas and a beautiful wooden floor, each with their eyes in a book within minutes. The Grade 5 students headed to the librarian to ask where “The Giving Tree” was. They had learnt about the book in their English grammar book but have never seen the book. They were very excited to handle the book and soon settled to read it from cover to cover. Then followed the discussion, “It’s so sad”, “No its not. Its beautiful”. This excitement just touched me so that the following week I bought them a copy of the book for their classroom.
The current (2018) Tainan Government has made it their mission to encourage the Taiwanese to learn English. They have various projects going towards achieving their goal. Some are big (like employing teachers like myself and posting them to schools to help students and local teachers with their conversational English) and others are fun ones aimed at the younger students. During the Summer Vacation many schools offer their students an English Summer Camp. The Tainan Government supports this with a themed project. Two years ago it was Peter Rabbit, last year the students learnt how to play Baseball and this year Peppa Pig taught the students how to eat healthy in English. They provide a lovey booklet for the students and lessons for the teachers on their website. They also have authors and various other mentors or role models to give talks or readings for the students. This year the project will carry on to later in the year when there will also be stage performance of Cleopatra, The adventure of a Princess. If you want to read more about this go to http://www.tainanlovesreading.com.tw