I have written a lot about Author Visits in this blog. I have encouraged many a school librarian to invite writers and illustrators in their schools and libraries to interact with children. The experience is beneficial for both visitor, writer or illustrator, and child.
For the writer or illustrator, it is PR and knowing the audience he is writing for. For the child audience, it is a learning experience that models literacy skills and a genuine love for books and reading. Since we're big on developing a reading culture, we have to work hard to acculturate our children into the reading habit. The school library is just one venue. The school librarian is one able agent to promote the reading culture. The Author Visit, only one of the many techniques to achieve this goal of fostering a reading culture.
However, such programs must be evaluated in all its aspects. Its impact to a student centered philosophy of learning must be identified. Its relevance to curricular offerings should be defined. It is important that tools for assessment on library programs and activities are present. How else can management and the school administration take school libraries seriously if evaluation of its policies and programs is not done and communicated? Evaluation allows us to improve and learn in the process. Librarians must realize though, that such programs and activities are similar to planting trees. The investment in time and effort will be reaped years after the seeds are planted.
I still have to hear an alumnus talk about the unforgettable activities he had in his school library and the learning he gained from his school librarian.
Let me wrap this up with the recent visit of the awesome Alfars, Dean and Nikki, to Xavier School Grade School Library. We invited them to talk about graphic novels and the process involved in its creation. As writers and creators of grafiction, this husband and wife team was at their element. It was Dean's first foray to talk among elementary boys and he was excellent. His presentation is complete and simple enough for 11 - 13 year old boys to appreciate.
Dean started off with a history of comics in the Philippines. Comics peaked in the Philippines with the American occupation, but in time, the Filipino's creativity and culture were reflected on the issues produced by its creators and publishers. The long and short of it, comics is a medium where we can express our unique art and rich cultural heritage. It is an avenue to showcase the Filipino talent, ingenuity and imagination. Dean and Nikki, along with their friends in the business, do just that but they raise the bar a notch higher. Come to the launching of Siglo Passion and see for yourself. Project Hero, a graphic novel for younger readers will share the limelight with Passion, as well as Dean's anthology of Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 1. The event will be on December 10, 2005 at Fully Booked Greenhills.
Many writers of today were influenced by comics. There are movies and TV shows inspired by comics. This is possible, not only because stories in comics and graphic novels are pop culture fodder. It happens because of the process by which comics are made. Dean and Nikki revealed (in an interview) that in the early stages of a comic book's conceptualization, a script is written. Think Panday and Carlo J. Caparas. Spiderman and Stan Lee. There was the comic book. There was the movie. There stands the writer.
In the scheme of things, artists and illustrators merge and collaborate to create it. Unlike story books for children where illustrations follow after story writing, writer and artist work as a team to shape the novel. This is necessary since word and visuals must be married to achieve a wholeness to the concept. And it is a lot of hardwork for the editor. For Dean, whose advocacy is the creation and readership of grafiction, the time and the effort is all worth it.
For fans of graphic novels who also dream of one day creating one, Dean recommends the following:
2. Read more and TAKE NOTES (my caps)
3. Know your grammar, master the words
4. Know the rules before you break them
5. Be prolific - produce consistently
6. Do not fall in love (with your work)
7. Expand your horizons
8. Be inventive
9. Join competitions, seminars and workshops
10. Keep a workbook, a journal or a blog
Take it from the Alfars whose genuine love for books and reading make them life long learners worthy of emulating.