Give them What They Want - AFCC Sessions Part 5

Throughout the Asian Festival of Children's Literature, I recognised a certain camaraderie of spirit among delegates and presenters alike. There pervaded a keen will to not only create emotionally and socially educational stories (or content) for kids that is both genuine and entertaining but to also somehow ensure that this content reaches it mark. In short, there exists in SE Asian a strong desire to share exciting, meaningful stories with kids from early childhood that offer them more than just a sound base from which to learn and excel academically.
Sketch by Favian Ee AFCC 2017

This is no easy feat for we creators, nor for the educators on the front line, in schools and libraries who may sometimes be restricted by mandates to deliver a certain type of content. This restraint of course is not exclusive to Singapore and her surrounding neighbours. So what do teachers really want? This next session highlighted some of the answers.

Books Teachers Wish Authors Would Write with Nadine Bailey, Rilla Melati, Myra Garces-Bacsal

The crux of this matter depends on what teachers are actually teaching and their knowledge of the reading material available to them. How they relate this to their audience, their students reflects this knowledge.

All panel members (Teacher Librarians, Educators and Creative Content Directors), stressed that teachers must first be avid readers themselves. This was critical to the comprehension and flow of knowledge.
Sketch Artist, Melissa Tan's visual interpretation of the session

Here is a list of their WANTS:

  • More picture book biographies i.e. of obscure unknown individuals that pushed values and boundaries and succeeded in impressive ways. But not didactic, dry life stories. There must be emotional connections.
  • More meme like and Visual Literacy based narratives
  • More picture books for older readers!! Some things best conveyed through art and picture books encompass art
  • More comics and graphic novels = gateway to literature to excite and engage
  • Texts that require kids to think for themselves, which might be more ambiguous and encourage them to draw their own conclusions and discoveries.
  • Narrative non-fiction of Pan Asian inter and intra Asian stories
  • Social justice – human rights based stories
  • Rich Visuals and excellent design e.g. Stormy Seas
  • Graphical Interface = sophistication
  • On line and offline fantasy / reality integration
  • Contextual content relevance e.g. The Red Tree by Shaun Tan, which echoes multiple stories and voices.
  • Books where the main attributers are not what the stories are about

    Here are the No More Please requests:

    • Outdated, poorly designed and text heavy books
    •  Preachy, didactic moralistic message based books
    • Gender and cultural essentiallising
    • Rhyming (verse novels OK)

    Remember: Children will listen to an entertaining story but will turn off if you attempt to lecture them. Messages must therefore be cloaked in great, stimulating storytelling.

    Look for Creative Solutions

    Kids love to LAUGH. Give them something funny, sinful, rule breaking and oh, yes, that includes farting and you will have a winner. 😂

    Tune in again soon for session feedback on the presentations I moderated. 


Norah said…
This is very interesting and informative, Dimity. There's a lot there to stimulate new writing ideas. Thanks.
DimbutNice said…
You're very welcome Norah. It's a good, current glimpse of expectations and something to keep in mind, I feel.
Sheryl Gwyther said…
Tomorrow, I'm going to set aside time to read these all in order!!! You have done us and yourself proud, Dimity. I love how you capture all things useful, interesting and stimulating to we kid lit creators. :)
DimbutNice said…
I do what I can. ;-) Enjoy the read with a good cuppa, Sheryl. :-D

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