Earlier this year, Sun Hung Kai Properties organised "A Letter to My Family", a book review competition to promote reading for fun, and also improve the way family members communicate. There were more than 8,000 submissions, according to SHKP, and an award presentation ceremony was held last week.
"Family reading [widens] the reading interests of children and improves family relationships," said SHKP deputy managing director Victor Lui at the ceremony.
Participants were divided into junior, intermediate and open divisions by age. Each division covered both a Chinese and an English category. Judges included the former director of social welfare and secretary for health and welfare Elizabeth Wong Chien Chi-lien, head of the School of Chinese at the University of Hong Kong Si Chung-mou, and vice-chairwoman of the Federation of Hong Kong Writers Chou Mat-mat. They chose the first, second and third place winners, as well as five merit prize winners, in each division.
The winning letters were mostly addressed to mothers, but other popular choices included letters to fathers and grandparents.
Kwok Tsz-ching, a Form Four student at SKH Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School, won the intermediate English category with the first letter she had ever written to her mother.
Her letter was also a book review of My Sister's Keeper. The book tells the story of two sisters, one of them dying from cancer and the other trying to cope with the situation.
Tsz-ching has a personal connection to the novel; her mother is a nurse and she's interested in books with a medical theme.
After introducing the book to her mother, Tsz-ching thanked her mother for her hard work, describing her as a "heart mender" in the letter.
"When you are trying to express love, it's very difficult to speak out loud, so I chose writing as a means to deliver my love to her," said Tsz-ching.
"My mother is always an inspiration. Most of my writing is based on my past experiences, and so is this one. She's a really important character in my stories and in my real life."
Gladys Dung Yeuk-in, the first runner-up in the intermediate category and a Form Five student at St Mark's School, wrote a letter to her family, which included her parents and her brother.
She was inspired by And the Mountains Echoed, a book about a brother and sister living in Afghanistan. In the book, Abdullah and his sister Pari are separated when Pari is adopted by another family. When they are finally reunited, they are both old and Abdullah is unable to remember his sister.
Gladys read the book while spending time abroad. She became scared she would one day lose all memory of her family, just like Abdullah.
"I wrote this letter to express my fears and how much I love them," said Gladys.
She added that she felt it was easier to express her true feelings in a letter than out loud. She thinks the competition gave her a chance to open up and better understand herself.
During the competition, 20 finalists from the junior and intermediate divisions presented their letters in front of a camera. The winner of the best presentation award was Yip Wing-sze.
The Form Five student from STFA Yung Yau College was inspired by the book My Family & Other Animals. Several scenes in the book, which is set on the Greek island of Corfu, brought back childhood memories of time spent with her parents.
When giving her presentation, she imagined the camera was her parents, the recipients of her letter. She said they are looking forward to watching the clip.
The top three letter writers and best presentation award winners in the intermediate division for both English and Chinese will receive an eight-week junior reporter training course, provided by Young Post.