CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) — The illustrated “Chinese Brief History Ballad” has been recently published in simplified Chinese, which condenses 5,000 years of Chinese history in 144 lines with 1,440 Chinese characters.
The book, authored by Gan Kaiwan, a Chinese New Zealander, has been warmly welcomed by Chinese both home and abroad as it helps promote the Chinese culture, especially to children who were born or live overseas.
The 11-part vividly illustrated, elaborately annotated book allows children to learn about Chinese culture through easy-to-understand rhyming texts, with Chinese Pinyin as the learning pathway.
At the launch of the book on Monday in New Zealand, Gan said many overseas Chinese children cannot speak good Chinese and do not understand Chinese history well, so the book was to help them learn better.
The book also meets the needs of passing on the Chinese culture overseas, and helping foreigners understand the Chinese civilization, Gan said.
Holding a doctorate in chemistry, Gan spent three years writing the book after his retirement, which vividly presents the important events and people in Chinese history in the form of a catchy five-character ballad.
“How can we call ourselves Chinese if we don’t know about Chinese history?” Gan said the use of the five-character ballad form, which is catchy and like the Three Character Classic, makes it easy for children to read. But it was not easy to create, especially with 5,000 years of history highly condensed into a five-character sentence pattern.
Chinese Consul General in Christchurch He Ying said the book’s total of 1,440 Chinese characters in the 144 lines, which reproduces the 5,000 years of glorious history, have been extracted from a vast number of history books, and the painstaking work involved can be imagined and is admirable.
The book is a successful attempt by Gan to teach his grandchildren living in New Zealand how to learn and understand the 5,000-year civilization and how to inherit and promote the profound Chinese culture, she said.
Kevin Grounds, who teaches Chinese at Burnside High School, said the book provides an interesting way to introduce some history to young students.
“It is very concise, just one (historical) period for one or two pages, which is very simple for students to learn some history,” Grounds said.
Although most New Zealand high school students would struggle with understanding the Chinese poems in depth, they would understand individual words with some help, he said, adding that the poems are short enough that students could memorize some and the history can be taught.
Gan was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013. ■