Asian Festival of Children’s Content: Sixth iteration sees many firsts

The Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC), to be held from 30 May to 6 June 2015 in Singaporereturns for the sixth iteration this year with an expanded programme engaging creators, producers, distributors, and end-users of children’s content under one roof.

According to the organiser  of AFCC, the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS), this year’s AFCC will host a total of 111 speakers, including 57 local speakers and 54 international speakers from 14 different countries around the world including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Australia, Hong Kong, France, Malaysia, the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Syria, Korea and Japan. Luminaries such as Rosemary Johnston, Professor of Education and Culture from University of Technology in Sydney, Australia and Dylan Yamada-Rice, Lecturer in Early Childhood Education from University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom will be presenting at the AFCC Teachers Congress, one of the festival’s regular tracks.

All the regular AFCC features such as the AFCC Writers & Illustrators Conference (ACWIC), the AFCC Media Mart & Book Fair, the AFCC Parents Forum, and the AFCC Teachers Congress are back again this year, but AFCC will also be offering several public and ticketed programmes for the first time. One of such programmes is Fun with Languages, which has been especially curated to enhance children’s learning of their mother tongues. This free-for-public, family-oriented programme features interactive activities in Singapore’s four official languages, English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil, in the form of performances, skits, story-telling and cross talks.

One of the highlights of this year’s AFCC Writers and Illustrators Conference is the comic track on 5 June, which offers topics such as “Comic Books: Social Media Marketing and Creative Entrepreneurship” by Evangeline Neo and Elbert Or from evaworks and Ateneo de Manila University respectively, which examines the features of a successful comic strip that enable their creators to earn a living from their art. Alison Norrington, the CEO and founder of storycentral will be presenting “Creating Epic Storyworlds” which takes writers through the process of considering mythology and genre in expanding their storyworlds in a way that appeals to their audiences.

China is the country of focus

China is AFCC’s country of focus this year, with 10 Chinese speakers including Wang Quangen, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature School at the Beijing Normal University, author Wang Yimei, and Zhao Wuping, Vice President of the Shanghai Translation Publishing House who have been invited to present topics as varied as “Integration and Development in Children’s Literature in Asia”, “Cultural Differences Between Chinese and Western Children’s Stories” and “Publication and Translation of Children’s Literature in China”. For the first time, the NBDCS will also be facilitating the collaboration between Singapore English authors and mainland Chinese authors by publishing a bilingual anthology of 16 of their short stories. Another first is a translation masterclass which will cover some of the finer points of translating English texts to Chinese and vice versa.

“In the 21st century, children’s content is about more than just books, so we are always on the lookout for relevant and innovative content to engage with the public as well as children’s content professionals,” said R Ramachandran, Executive Director of NBDCS. “With the current emphasis on mother tongue languages, developing mother tongue and bilingual programmes such as Fun with Languages and translation master classes is a natural progression for AFCC.”

A regular speaker at AFCC, the Singapore-based, Dr Myra Garces-Bacsal will be presenting “Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature” at the Parents’ Forum which will look into socially inclusive books which tackle difficult topics, highlighting the presence of “the others” in society such as those with special needs, migrants and non-traditional families. Dr George Jacobs from James Cook University Singapore, will also be presenting a talk to help parents assist their sons to read better. This session “Don’t Leave the Boys Behind: Motivating Boys to Read” explores the reading gap between boys and girls and presents ideas for motivating boys to read more.

Dr Myra Garces-Bacsal and Dr George Jacobs will join a stable of 20 local and international speakers at the Parents Forum which is expected to hit record attendance this year.