As the rainy season continued, book lovers were lured in to soak in a literary kind of rain on Tuesday, July 21, 2015, at Elements at Centris, Quezon City.
Local and international authors who are committed in the development and promotion of children’s literature were present to share their knowledge and expertise at the recently held Philippine Children’s Book Summit with the theme “Umuulan ng Libro.”
In celebration of the National Children’s Book Day, the National Book Development Board (NBDB) together with the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY), mounted the summit to create a venue where children’s book authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers, and students can discuss and weigh in on different issues concerning children’s content.
“The story of children’s book publishing in the Philippines begins much later than the introduction of the stories that inspired them,” said Graciela Mendoza-Cayton, NBDB Executive Director.
She emphasized the significance of the oral tradition in our country. Through this strong tradition, thoughts and ideas have long been passed on, especially in a number of rural communities not easily accessed.
“The purpose for our stories and their telling seemed to have more to do with teaching us how to be. A quick glance at early children’s books published in the Philippines reveals as much, for most of them read like guidebooks for living,” said Mendoza-Cayton
Writing the past, writing for the future
Japanese author Mariko Nagai discussed why writing about the past matters to young children and why poetry matters in the plenary session Dangerous Poetry for Young Readers: Writing the Past, Writing for the Future.
“I’m a poet and a poet’s mind works in a non-linear way. And, perhaps, more importantly, when there’s a story there’s an adventure; and when there’s an adventure, there’s serendipity in danger; and only in hindsight that we see the question and makes sense of it all as it is with any journey or life itself,” said Nagai.
Nagai wrote Dust of Eden, a book that deals with a Japanese-American family facing post-war America. There, she explored Japanese and American war history and how it affected the people especially mixed race families.
“As a writer, I am intensely interested in history - knowing who we are and who we will become,” said Nagai.
New ways of bringing books
Maricel Montero, Museo Pambata Executive Director, talked about the contributions and initiatives of their institution and its mobile library.
Since its foundation, Museo Pambata has undertaken literacy and reading projects. They are committed in fulfilling projects aimed at bringing literature to economically disadvantaged children of Manila.
Likewise, Quintin Pastrana’s advocacy is to build libraries in rural areas in the Philippines. He is the Founder and Managing Director of the Library Renewal Partnership (www.librarypartners.com), a leading coalition of literacy providers on track to building at least 200 community learning centers to empower over 2 million citizens by 2020.
“The two libraries we set up in Leyte and in Aklan which hadn’t had typhoon in the longest time were actually community centers that actually entertained citizens while they were waiting for the floods to recede,” said Pastrana.
For Pastrana, building libraries is not just to help in learning but also to help the community.
A look at wordless picture books
In the last plenary session, Is Reading All About Letters and Words: A Look at Wordless Picture Books, Malaysian illustrator Wen Dee Tan discussed the significance of wordless picture books in visual literacy for children. According to Tan these books are more effective than picture books with text in storytelling to children with ages 0-7 as their vocabulary is not yet developed.
“Pictures convey meaning instantaneously,” said Tan. “Visuals convey the character’s world in a way that is immediately accessible and instantly understood.”
The summit culminated with the awarding of the PBBY Salanga Writer’s prize and PBBY Alcala Illustrator’s prize.
Cheeno Marlo del Mundo Sayuno was the lone honorable mention as no one was awarded the grand prize for the PBBY Salanga Writer’s prize for this year. His winning story is entitled The Missing Blanket.
For the Alcala Illustrator’s prize, Joffrey Z. Atienza and Maria Sabrina P. Palmares received honorable mentions.