Diversity is the 10th Anniversary Festival Theme
Turning 10 this year, the Asian Festival of Children’s Content is again both an industry- and public-facing event with a strong emphasis on its four days of workshops, pitching sessions, master classes, lectures, and panels, September 5 to 8.
Some 70 events are being planned for the four days of the festival, and the programming is devised, organizers say, on three tracks (with ticket-purchase information on each site):
And this is a program that’s not afraid to work with controversial material. The main festival lecture, for example, is to be given by Philip Nel on the subject “Why Adults Refuse to Admit Racist Content in the Children’s Books They Love.”
Nel, who teaches at Kansas State University, is the author of Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature and The Need for Diverse Books (Oxford University Press, 2017).
In another key session, Random House for Books executive editor Sara Sargent—who recently spoke in Berlin at Klopotek’s Publishers Forum directed by Rüdiger Wischenbart—will speak on “Current Trends in the Children’s Book Market.”
Sargent knows the topic as a leader in the trends-driven use of cultural clues for her rapid-response approach to developing YA content quickly for a shifting, media-paced market.
Some of the speakers–authors, translators, educators–being listed in media messaging from the Singapore Book Council include:
- Cheeno Marlo Sayuno (Philippines), educator and author of The Magic Bahag, Si Tiya Salome and The Missing Blanket
- Emily X.R. Pan (USA), first-time novelist of The Astonishing Color of After
- Eva Wong Nava (Singapore), author of the award-winning book Open: A Boy’s Wayang Adventure, which focuses on autism
- Hanna Alkaf (Malaysia), author of the debut YA novel, The Weight of Our Sky, which deals with racial riots in Malaysia in 1969
- Helen Wang (UK), children’s book translator who won the Marsh Christian Award for Children’s Literature in Translation Award in 2017, and the Chen Bochui Special Contribution Award
- 李木子Li Muzi (Singapore), a drama educator who will conduct a Chinese-language workshop on using theatrical texts to teach literacy to preschoolers
- Malarvele Ilangovan (Singapore), librarian and writer of five children’s books, on her journey of writing children’s stories in Tamil
- Muhammad bin Kamit (Singapore), educator, in a workshop on creating “purposeful play” and bringing books to life in the outdoors
- Soe Marlar (Myanmar and Singapore), academic and educator in narrative structures in Burmese folk tales
- Weng Cahiles (Philippines), on her latest title Si Kian, a haunting book about children killed in the war on drugs in her country
One reason you see so much emphasis on diversity and inclusivity on the programming for the event is that the book council’s mandate includes a stated aim “to promote the creation, development and appreciation of quality Asian content for children and young adults.”
As the program’s descriptive material says, “The AFCC is a unique event in Asia that provides an opportunity for academics, writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, distributors, parents, teachers, and librarians to meet, learn, hone their crafts, and develop cross-cultural collaborations.”
Returning this year is the Book Illustrators Gallery, one of the elements of programming the show uses to reach out to the community. “In line with AFCC’s theme of diversity,” organizers write, “the gallery’s collection of illustrations underlines the impact of visually representing stories to entice audiences to embrace an affinity for books, the stories within them and the cultures they represent.”
The illustration exhibition runs August 26 to September 14, and is located at the Central Public Library.
Guest illustrator for the program this year is Myanmar cartoonist Sai Parn Hein.