Chinese classics are taking over from Harry Potter novels as bestsellers. Sales of Chinese classics such as the The Analects of Confucius, Mencius and The Analects of Lao Tse have surged over the summer. More parents and schools, in search of better methods of education, are including ancient philosophical and literary classics in their educational programmes. One of the catalysts fuelling the craze was the annual national university entrance examination. Jiang Xinjie, a student from Jiangsu province, was cited as a star student after receiving top marks for essay writing. Mr Jiang, who will attend Nanjing University, used traditional Chinese literary style to write the essay, rather than the contemporary Chinese used since early this century. His prose, packed with idiom and allusion from classic literature, impressed the examiner so much that he gave him full marks. 'I pounded the table in surprise,' wrote the teacher in his comment. 'The use of ancient Chinese is so eloquent that it is beyond the reach of most candidates.' When asked what the secret to writing good essays was, Mr Jiang said: 'Having pored over 10,000 volumes, one can write with golden power' - meaning that reading extensively is the key to good writing. On hearing this, many parents crowded bookstores to stock up on classics for their children. Beijing Book City - the largest bookstore in Beijing - promoted a dozen classical works entitled How to Read Classics. In the Book Centre in Haidian district, where the universities are situated, a giant banner proclaims 'Great university, great classics', China Book Reading Newspaper reported this week. 'We have seen a noticeable rise in the sale of classic literary books,' said Cao Qidong, a manager at the Haidian Book Centre. The annual university entrance exams serve as a compass for the direction of education in China. Until the Xinhai Revolution, which toppled the Qing Dynasty in 1911, young children were tutored at home. This largely involved chanting scriptures of the Four Books and Five Classics. Four Books includes The Great Learning, The Doctrine of the Mean, The Analects of Confucius and Mencius. Five Classics refers to The Book of Song, The Book of History, The Book of Changes, The Book of Rites and The Spring and Autumn Annals. The tradition was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s when Red Guards demolished the Confucius Temples and the nation denounced his doctrine - one of the most important foundations of Chinese culture. Beijing Children's Classics Reading Centre will soon introduce a plan that will encourage children to read the Four Books and Five Classics. The trend is likely to be endorsed by the Chinese Communist Party, which urged officials to 'rule by virtue' in addition to the rule by law, according to Professor Yan Zhijie, of Beijing University. Since President Jiang Zemin first uttered the words, the state press has been full of officials' articles quoting from the Confucian classics.