Diversity at Asian Festival Of Children’s Content

The 2019 edition of Asian Festival of Children’s Content will place importance on difficult and sensitive topics related to ethnic diversity, among others. Mallika Naguran takes a peak at what is in store at the regional literary event staged in Singapore this September.

SINGAPORE, 29 August 2019. The Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) will mark its 10th edition exploring diversity as the primary theme from 5 to 8 September 2019 in Singapore. Keeping with tradition to have a country focus each year, Myanmar will take centrestage.

In exploring diversity at greater depth, topics such as representation, multiracialism and depression will be explored by speakers and guests over four days. The AFCC this year will have around 100 local speakers and 50 international ones in over 90 sessions at the National Library Singapore on Victoria Street.

Invited guest Sai Parn Hein illustrates the spirit of Burmese culture that can be appreciated at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2019

Invited guest Sai Parn Hein illustrates the spirit of Burmese culture that can be appreciated at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2019

The AFCC draws not just the literary and artistic types but also teachers, parents, media and publishers. A number of ticketed sessions include panel discussions, workshops, lectures and masterclasses in addition to pitching sessions, networking events and public activities. These promote the creation and appreciation of quality children’s literature and Young Adult content with a focus on Asian themes.

“AFCC has been championing diversity and Asian children’s books since its inception,” says William Phuan, Executive Director of the Singapore Book Council. “As we mark our 10th anniversary milestone, it is even more important that we continue to push to enrich the literary landscape with multicultural stories and diverse themes.”

Speaker Highlights at AFCC 2019

A keynote address on advocating diversity in children’s books and YA fiction will be delivered by award-winning translator Helen Wang, Sara Sargent - editor at Random House Books for Young Readers, and educator/publisher Mary George.

Children’s literature scholar Philip Nel will give a lecture titled, “Why Adults Refuse to Admit Racist Content in the Children’s Books They Love”.

Sadaf Siddique will give a talk on how to depict Muslims positively in literature.

Debut YA novelists Emily X.R. Pan and Hanna Alkaf, together with two-time Philippines’ National Children’s Book Awards winner Weng Cahiles will share their insights on how to write about trauma for young readers.

Lisa Charleyboy, a Tsilhqot'in (First Nations) writer will speak on the importance of minority representation in children’s literature. In lecture “Being a Translator: Crazy but True”, Helen Wang discusses a translator’s responsibility to source material, readers and cultural sensitivity.

Special Interests and Book Prize

Myanmar, being this year’s Country of Focus, is represented by 25 writers, illustrators and publishers through talks while sharing Burmese folktales and reading initiatives. A celebration of the country’s arts and culture will be the highlight at a closing dinner event.

A first at the AFCC this year are the Young Book Reviewers podcasts. These podcasts centre on reading content and perspectives, and are put together by students from secondary schools and junior colleges in Singapore. They will be streamed online, supported by local student radio stations.

AFCC will present the biennial Scholastic Picture Book Award 2019 (SPBA) this year to recognise the talents of writers and illustrators in Asia. Seven picture book manuscripts have been shortlisted from among 88 submissions. The winner receives S$10,000 in prize money and have a publishing opportunity with Scholastic Asia.

Free Programme: Book Illustrators Gallery (BIG), an exhibition showcasing picture book illustrations by illustrators from Southeast Asia and the Asian diaspora.

The AFCC is organised by the Singapore Book Council with support from the National Arts Council of Singapore.

Check out the tickets here. Concession discount of 25% is available for students and senior citizens.