Sunday, May 16, 2010

We Need Local Children's Books

I don’t want to see less of the wonderful books published every year in the United States and Britain – our reading lives would be a lot less rich without them. We just need other stories too. Stories from India, from China and Japan and South Korea, from Singapore and other Asean nations, from Australia, from Africa, from Polynesia and beyond. Asian content for the world, yes, but most importantly and urgently, Asian content for Asia.Malaysian writers need to make sure they tell our stories to the world’s children.
Daphne Lee in Starmag writes about the highlights of last week's Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore and calls it "inspiring".

I went along for just one day of the festival since I had agreed to moderate the panel discussion of two children's writers : Singapore's Jessie Wee and Sarawakian Margaret Lim (who is now based in Germany). 

Both of them were thoroughly entertaining as  they talked about how they got started and the challenges they faced.

Jessie, who is really the pioneer children's writer in Singapore, wrote her adventures of Mooty the mouse for her two sons 30 years ago, convinced that :
... children in Singapore need stories they can identify with, stories they can call their own
She has written a total of 30 books.  Five of them were commissioned by U.K. publishers, two by American Express International Incorporated and she was also the contributor to books published by the Asian Culture Centre for UNESCO (Japan).

Margaret Lim has written four books based on her childhood in Sarawak and featuing a little Kayan girl called Payah. She was nominated by the Sabah State Library as a candidate for the prestigious 2008 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

I also managed to catch the launch of Daphne's first book under her One Red Flower imprint :  In my Mother's Garden, written and illustrated by Emilia Yusof.

1 comment:

Anna Gustafsson Chen said...

So true! And you need to let the rest of the world read these books too. My Mother's Garden looks lovely.