By Gargi Vachaknavi

The Asian Festival of Children’s content organised by Singapore Book Council from 5 th to 8 th September, 2019, celebrated its tenth year with the country of focus being Myanmar. There were talks and discussions on the need for book reviews, the need for diversity in children’s literature, translations and how to proliferate books from different cultures all over the globe.

Panel discussions and lectures dotted the event with delegates from USA, England, different parts of Asia and more. Some of the discussions were thought provoking. For instance, at the end of discussion on diversity with panellists from North American background ( academic Philip Nel, writer editor Emily Pan and Lisa Charlieboy) with moderator Avery Fischer Udagawa, the relevance of their experience to the Asian experience was put under scrutiny by a member of the audience as even Emily Pan grew up in USA identifying as an American. 

During a discussion on ‘Portrayal of Special Needs in YA (Young Adult Fiction)’, while award winning writer Suzanne Kamata focussed on the need to assimilate children with disabilities into the mainstream, Hannah Alkaff from Malaysia totted off statistics that proved more children would suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder( OCD ) over the years and therefore the need to create fiction like hers where children could identify with such issues. One wonders though why schools and caregivers would allow this rise in OCD to occur. Sarinajit Kaur from National Institute of Education, talked of how teachers could create not just better readers but generate hope in children by giving them books that are empathetic. 

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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.