Thursday, September 8, 2011

Books Are Phenomenal

Last night, I was a guest resource person in Teacher Portia's class. The class, composed of twenty, more or less, graduate students studying Children's Literature are on the topic of book and literature evaluation. Much talked about were the award giving bodies locally and abroad. Together with Totet de Jesus (illustrator), Dr. Luis Gatmaitan (writer) and Michelle Agas (storyteller) we shared our ideas, insights and experiences in evaluating children's and young adult literature and books for them.

The indefatigable Totet de Jesus showed off his dummies and sketches, book samples and illustrator's portfolio. As always, it enthralled the listening audience. Luis shared the cross-overs that his works have covered so far. Meaning, from books, his stories has been translated into movies, plays and translated into Japanese and Thai. Duglit, Ang Dugong Makulit is now a Department of Health and DepEd material for health and hygiene lessons. Sandosenang Sapatos, his Palanca winning story, has been a staged in Valenzuela City for a play intended for families and children. The same storybook was translated into Thai and distributed in Singapore.

Since three of us from PBBY were present, talks of the NCBA, Salanga and Alcala Prizes were a plenty. Their questions focused on criteria for judging and basis for selecting and evaluating winners of such awards.

Of course, the Palanca Awards was just around the corner. There were suggestions from the class to come up with a set criteria for the Palancas similar to what the Newberry has done. First of, the Newberry is an award given by the American Library Association. In the spirit of transparency and equal access to information, librarians will and should make information public and accessible. Such is not the case for the literati who treats the judging of a manuscript as a work of art. Art is subjective. It's boundaries and limitations vary from one expert to another.

Before the night closed, Michelle Agas regalled everyone with her winning rendition of The Lazy Bug by Lina Diaz de Rivera. I hope that this happens again as I enjoy talking about literature for children and young adult to kindred spirits. My parting shot for the night, libraries are part of the book phenomenon among its writer, illustrator, publisher and reader. A librarian's role as a reading promoter must evolved into a reading advocacy, offering to readers a diverse and balanced book selection.

Happy International Literacy Day!

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