The AFCC Board of Advisors met with teachers, principals and educators at the Al Haraki school, during their recent trip to Indonesia from 11 - 13 November 2016. The speech made by our Chairperson, Ms Claire Chiang, is included below.

Welcome

Good morning, and thank you for the kind welcome that you have shown me and the team from the Asian Festival of Children’s Content or AFCC. It’s really wonderful to hear about the good work that you all do here, please allow me to share a little about AFCC.

Introduction to NBDCS

AFCC is organised by the National Book Development Council of Singapore or NBDCS, and NBDCS was formed in 1968 through a UNESCO initiative to improve literacy levels in South East Asia. Today, as we approach our 50th anniversary in 2018, NBDCS focuses on training writers through workshops and festivals like AFCC, and presenting literary awards, like the Singapore Literature Prize, and the Asian Children’s Book Award.

AFCC Board

While I am currently the chairperson of NBDCS, my association with the Book Council began earlier, as Chairperson of the AFCC Board of Advisors since 2010. Some of our long serving board members are also here today, including Dr Murti Bunanta, Author and President of KPBA, whom you all know, as well as several other prominent authors and publishing experts from across Asia. With us here today are also several members of the NBDCS board, as well as colleagues from the National Library of Singapore.

AFCC Uniqueness

AFCC is a unique Festival in Asia as it has 4 conferences: one for Writers & Illustrators, one for Digital Content, one for Teachers, and one for Parents. The Board and I have, since the first AFCC, strongly believed that this Festival is needed by our publishers, writers, illustrators, animators, and digital content producers from all over Asia, to provide a platform for the incredible amount of local content that they create, whether it is derived from our folktales, legends and myths, or our contemporary children’s stories, to reach the more than 1 billion children in Asia.

In addition, we showcase all this content in the form of books, apps, and animations to the teachers and parents and link this with early literacy pedagogy to provide materials with Asian content to be used at home and in schools.

Each year AFCC has grown steadily and this year, we had 116 speakers and 556 delegates from 22 countries participating in the 4 different conferences. There were 39 book launches and 42 vendors at the AFCC Book Fair, and we also presented 2 awards.

Country of Focus

Since 2012, every AFCC has had a Country of Focus, and next year, that country will be Indonesia. I was privileged to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair last year when Indonesia was Country of Honour there, and I was incredibly impressed by the Indonesian Pavilion, with the range of books on display, as well as cultural events. Dr Murti and her team have been working hard to bring some of this to AFCC next year also.

Bilingual Picture Books

To celebrate Indonesia as the AFCC Country of Focus, we will also be publishing two collaborative bilingual picture books. One book will feature Indonesian illustrator Maria Christiana, partnered with Singaporean author Rilla Melati, and she has written a Cinderella story with a Singaporean twist.

The other book will feature Indonesian writer Renny Yaniar, partnered with Singaporean illustrator Joey Ng, and this story is about a mother and daughter on a shopping trip to the market. These two books will be launched at AFCC. It will be wonderful if librarians and teachers from both our countries can introduce these books to our children, to expose them to one another’s language, cultures and people.

AFCC Teachers Congress & Parents Forum

Next year, the AFCC Teachers Congress and AFCC Parents Forum will have the theme “The Growing Years: Growing and Becoming Literate Today”. Some of the topics covered will include “Building a Reading Culture”, “Fostering Diversity through Children’s Literature”, “Pedagogy and Culture”, “Play-based Learning”, “Literacy Skills in the 21st century” and “Digital Literacy”. These sessions will focus on pedagogy and content suitable for children from ages 3 to 11.

AFCC Book Fair

Another popular feature of AFCC is the annual book fair, where Asian publishers launch their latest titles and you can meet authors and illustrators too. Some of the books launched in recent years include:

  • The Magic Bird. This book was written by Australian writer Ken Spillman, illustrated by Indian artist Malavika, and published by a Malaysian publisher.
  • Another similar collaboration called Grandma’s Persimmons was launched at AFCC 2014, featuring a Malaysian publisher, Singaporean author, and South African illustrator.
  • And Scholastic Asia has published and launched multiple award winning titles of chapter books for teenagers written by authors from Singapore, India, and the Philippines.

Conclusion

Yesterday, at the National Library, I invited publishers and authors to come to AFCC 2017. Today, I want to extend that invitation to all of you to join in Singapore next May. I want to say again that AFCC is a place for us to meet and share Asian ideas and content. There is so much good material out there, but sometimes it is hard to find. Please come to AFCC next year and let’s discover it together.

Thank you.

Previous: What children’s book illustrators can look out for at AFCC 2017