Sun, Apr 03, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Children celebrate Anderson's tales

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Children and their parents listen to a story at a fairy tale dress-up party organized by Hsin Yi Foundation in front of the main Eslite bookstore in Taipei yesterday to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Joining the worldwide celebration of the 200 anniversary of Hans Christian Anderson's birthday, about 140 Taipei children were transformed yesterday into little mermaids, ugly ducklings and other fairy-tale characters in honor of the famous Danish writer and his immortal stories.

The Hsin Yi Foundation, an organization that helps the poor and gives scholarships to promote early childhood education, held an"Anderson Fairy Tales Characters' Dress Up Party" yesterday morning in front of the Eslite flagship bookstore in Taipei that drew hundreds of children and their parents.

Among those attending the party was Yu Fang-chih (游芳枝), wife of Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who said that her daughter used to love Anderson's fairy tales and she cherished the memories of telling the bedtime stories to her daughters.

"Fairy tales play an important role in a child's life. Like many of the parents here, I used to tell stories to my daughters every day when she was little. With more local fairy tale writers now in Taiwan, I think modern children are very luck to have more diverse storybooks to choose from," Yu said.

The director of the Danish Trade Organization's Taipei Office, Flemming Aggergaard, shared his favorite Anderson fairy tale, The Ugly Duckling with the children in the party.

"It is a story that says that it is not the outside, but the inside counts," Aggregaard said.

Lauding the event for providing a link between children in Taiwan and Danish literature, Aggreggard said it was a great privilege to participate in a party that celebrated an outstanding writer from his country.

"I am glad to see that the effects of Anderson's fairy tales have traveled so far. Anderson was an extraordinary figure whose ideas spread to every corner of the world ? I hope the interest of Anderson's works will attract friends in Taiwan to visit Denmark," he said.

Hsin Yi Foundation executive director Chang Sing-ju (張杏如) said that the colloquial style of Anderson's fairy tales disguised the sophisticated moral teachings of his tales.

"The world has become a much more complicated place with diverse information for our children today. Anderson's works provide positive philosophies and I believe our children can benefit much more by reading his fairy tales, compared to watching TV or browsing online" Chang said.

Siew Yu-jay (蕭宇婕), a three-year-old girl, transformed herself into a little mermaid yesterday with a red curly wig, a purple paper bra and a long skirt with green fish scales patterns on it.

According to her mother, Siew loves reading storybooks and listening to bedside stories.

"I think this is a positive and meaningful event to show children's creativity and encourage their interest in reading," said Siew's mother, who wished not to be named.

Six-year-old Siew Fan-ju (蕭方茹), who dressed up as Thumbelina, also enjoys reading storybooks every day. Her favorite, she said, was Thumbelina.

"In addition to reading storybooks, my daughter's school also encourages students to draw the stories they've read or listened, which is another wonderful way to cultivate children's reading ability and creativity," said Tsai Yi-ching (蔡宜靜), another mother at the party.

Hans Christian Anderson was born on April 2, 1805 in Copenhagen. Many of his fairy tales depict characters who gain happiness in life after suffering and conflicts.

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