Saturday, April 21, 2018

Filipino Librarian of the Month:

The blog's Filipino Librarian of the Month is Melissa Odono Naval, school librarian at Southville International School and Colleges. Known among peers and friends in Southville as Ms. Mel, she is a very colorful personality in the community and has earned the school's admiration and respect because of her dedication towards her work. She was second place in the recently concluded Search for Outstanding Librarian in the Consortium of the South.

How did you become a school librarian?

Staying in the library as a custodian or a full-time librarian did not cross my mind more so becoming a licensed one.

Yes, I have not asked myself what made me stay in the library for more than 10 years. If I am into superstitions, I would say it is my good luck staying in the library but unfortunately, I strongly believe that it is really God's plan that he put me in the field of librarianship for a greater purpose.
Let me share with you my short story.

This happened when our librarian in my previous work resigned and there was no one to stay or take care of our library then.  As tradition dictates, books were returned at the end of the academic year, clearing of teachers' accountabilities by the assigned librarian.  Since no one would do that anymore, books returned were placed anywhere in the library.  My heart felt bad seeing books scattered anywhere.  Without any knowledge, nor skills, I volunteered to our principal to fix the returned books while teaching, monitoring and mentoring faculty in the department. Even during that time, there was really a scarcity of licensed librarian and not one has applied yet for the position.

Lack of knowledge or lack of skills did not stop me to help and serve.  A great opportunity came when a PAASCU accreditor recommended that, at least, someone who has units in the field could man the library.

I embraced this new challenge and took units after finishing my Master's in Filipino. At that time  I was already in paper writing. I saw the urgency and weighed the need for our school.  In the journey of studying, I thirsted for more and little by little, I applied all the learning and skills from my professors but most especially from my classmates whom I  shared the same plight. I have realized, am I enjoying every bit of work, every bit of challenge and empathised with my friends and acquaintances' stories in the library.  

With passion, grit and determination, I was ready to move forward so I decided to take the board exam for librarians (which our batch was the last to take the exam as non-BLIS graduates).  As I have mentioned, it was indeed a God's plan because I passed the board exams.  I even pushed more for a bigger challenge and inspired by Sir Johnny Buenrostro, I enrolled in MLIS in Baliuag, Bulacan until I finally finished and graduated my MLIS in 2012.

In the year 2010, I have decided to leave my previous work.  I applied for a teaching position in various schools but there was  no vacancy in my field of expertise.  So I decided to apply as a librarian and Southville International School & Colleges gave me the opportunity to truly experience the role of a librarian in different facets. I have been an academic librarian and presently a school librarian. Being a librarian is challenging, yet fulfilling and exciting.


2. What have you learned from years of experience working with students and teachers?


Working with students and teachers in the library have taught me the real meaning of service on a wider scope and with greater responsibilities. Customers are different and unique in so many ways.  I have learned to tailor-fit the library services and activities on their needs and types.  Working with students in the library gave me the opportunity to wear different hats: a teacher, a friend, a parent, a counsellor. Working with teachers/faculty have taught me to improve and work on my relationship with them, to provide for their teaching needs and to always be on my toes.  To give in on their request without bending the library's policies and procedures but to meet them half-way. Working  hand in hand with them made some of my work easy. I have gained partners in promoting everything about the library and on personal note, I have even won friends.


Working with Southville’s students and faculty have taught me to develop, hone and live the true value and meaning of 5Cs,  Competence, Character, Collaboration, Creativity and Commitment to Achieve.

What is the greatest challenge school librarians face in this day and age?


Based from my experiences and conversations with colleagues, the greatest challenge of school librarians are budget related, manpower and support from management.

How can this challenge be overcome? 


a.  In order to get support from management, librarians must make a noise in the community to show and let everyone be aware that the library exist.  Forward to them all seminar invites pertaining to administration for them to attend and be with other administrations so they could understand little things about the library.  Involve them in all the activities.


b. If budget is really limited, work and coordinate with different publishing companies and initiate book fairs. Entice these publishing companies on different student-centered activities on major library celebrations.  Launch a book drive donation from students, teachers or parents. Benchmark with other schools and coordinate for possible book donation.


c.  For lack of manpower, librarians can coordinate with teachers or discipline head of the school and open the possibility of the library as a venue for students to do community service, SHS service learning and immersion.

Think of something we do not know about Melissa yet. How can this “hidden” self be a gift to PH LIS?

I am a passionate librarian and an event organizer.  I think, if I will be given the chance to be one of the organizers of any organizations, I could apply the skills and training I had with Southville.

I always wanted to turn my weaknesses into strength. I am scared of deep water however, I am doing ways to conquer my fear of water by going to beaches and pools and learning to swim with my loved ones. Turning my weakness/fears into strength can be a self gift to the LIS profession because it helps people in unlocking their potential and it makes them a successful one in every aspect of their lives personally or professionally.


Others would see me as a happy individual, very jolly, likes to mingle and entertain everyone, with a strong will and determination.  Others even perceive me with a strong personality.  But behind this, like any other human being, I am also vulnerable. However this won't stop me from doing my passion to serve others, to inspire and encourage people around me especially colleagues in the field of teaching and of librarianship.


Despite many challenges as a librarian, we can all soar high amazingly and conquer our fears and weaknesses to be servants of God.  Be a blessing to every all.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Summer Workshops: Storytelling and Creative Writing

SCHEDULE OF TALKS AND WORKSHOPS for April and May 2018

April 19, 2018 - Storytelling Workshop and Panel Presentation at the 9th PILF in CCP. Registration is free. Visit the FB Page of the National Book Development Board for details.

April 29, 2018 - Writing Workshop: Weaving stories for kids and young readers. 

Registration is Php 2,500. For details, send me a PM or an email at zarah.gagatiga@gmail.com.

Venue: Happy Grandma’s Cafe
Umbria Mall, Biñan Laguna

Time: 1 PM - 5 PM

May 19, 2018 - Imagine! Play! Wonder! A Creative and Fun Storytelling Workshop

Venue: Museo Pambata, Roxas Boulevard, Manila

Time: 9AM to 4PM

Read the e-poster for details.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Filipino Librarians At the Crossroads: Exclusivity vs. Inclusivity

This is a residual post from the blog entry last April 11, 2018, What Kind of Librarian Leader Are You? where I identified my takeaways from the panel on leadership and Filipino librarians today. The invited guests in the 39th Gabriel A. Bernardo Memorial Lecture were Dr. Vernon Totanes, Mr. Michael Pinto and Mrs. Fides Abad.

Of the three, it is Fides Abad’s presentation I enjoyed the most because one of her slides holds a truth that we, Filipino Librarians, have not spoken out loud amidst the #NationalNonLibrarian issue but a sentiment many of us feel.

And that truth is this: ONLY LICENSED LIBRARIANS ARE QUALIFIED TO WORK AS LIBRARIANS.

Photo credit: Prof. Johann Frederick A. Cabbab's FB Post of a slide presentation of Fides Abad's presentation during UP SLIS' 39th Gabriel A. Bernardo Memorial Lecture. Theme: Library Leadership at the Crossroads.

Of course, this has been said in social media and in TV interviews on the issue of  the #NationalNonLibrarian, but the context in which Abad presented this truth, as I take it, is one that shows prejudice and exclusivity to another professional whom we, in the LIS Profession, have no personal knowledge of. Our colleagues from the National Library of the Philippines (NLP) remain to be as quiet as mice.

This silence speaks volumes.

A law was violated. We have so many questions. We need to hear answers. We deserve to get a response.

On the other hand, I am also thinking beyond this manmade law. It seems that the law and adherence to it has turned us into absolute thinkers. Has RA 9246 turned us to be exclusive, turf oriented and prideful professionals? 

Insulted by the appointment of a non-librarian in the NLP, we fail to look at Director Adriano as a person too. A human being who has a set skill, though different from ours, that can contribute to the growth of the NLP in particular and LIS in the Philippines in general. In one conversation I had with librarian friends, I said, baka pwede ma-convince at ma-inspire si Director Adriano na mag Masters in LIS? After a long stretch of silence, my friends deep in thought, one replied, pano pa yun ma-inspire kumuha ng MLIS, binato at binatikos na sa social media at may nakaabang pang complaint sa Ombudsman?

Is it too difficult to stretch a kind hand to one who is different from you? 

Ang yayabang natin, ano? E lahat naman tayo, tao lang. 

In a time when the divide and conquer strategy is being applied left and right by the current powers that be, kindness, goodness, empathy and compassion are all too hard to come by.

Tooth for a tooth. Eye for an eye.

We will all go blind then.

Unable to see.

Disabling speech and open dialogue.

I wonder who among us, those outside of NLP, like the PLAI, the BFL and the rest of the library associations have talked to Director Adriano in person.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

What Kind of Librarian Leader Are You?

Last March 23, 2018, the University of the Philippines School of Library and Information Science (UP SLIS) hosted the 39th Gabriel A. Bernardo Memorial Lecture. There were three invited panelists who expanded and expounded on the theme, Library Leadership at the Crossroads. The respected licensed librarian panelists for the lecture were Dr. Vernon Totanes, Director of the Rizal Library; Mr. Michael Pinto, President of the Philippine Librarians Association; and Mrs. Fides Abad, licensed librarian, retired school librarian and administrator, and professional skills trainer. They were tasked to discuss leadership in the Library and Information  Science (LIS) profession today, particularly looking at the issue of the appointment of Mr. Gilbert Adriano, a Human Resource manager from the Davao City Hall as the director of the National Library of the Philippines.

I was not there at the lecture in UP Diliman, but peers and colleagues in the UP SLIS posted photos, snippets, sound bites and a live video of the panelists' input on leadership. If you are following the issue of the #NationalNonLibrarian in social media, and you have seen and/or heard Totanes and Pinto during the lecture,  both gentlemen were consistent on their stand on the issue though each has a different approach in dealing about it. I will not flesh this out because much has been said already. What we need to hear are more voices other than the ones we have heard over and over again.

The links and history of the #NationalNonLibrarian issue can be reviewed and revisited in Totanes' blog and the PLAI's Official Facebook Page. I encourage you to go back and reread, if you need a refresher. For this blog post, I am focusing on the leadership styles that I took away from the three panelists. More than the pressing issue at hand, the three library leaders have displayed their brand of leadership. For LIS professionals, this would make for an interesting research and study. Younger LIS professionals may find a mentor, a coach or a lodi (idol) LIS professional to follow or emulate.

1. From Dr. Totanes, I realised how important communication skills can be in a position of leadership. Totanes knows how to use language and in great effects to media marketing and promotion. I have a friend who is a poet and philosopher tell me once, that a man who can wield language has the most power in this world. How true!

A leader knows what he is thinking about and is able to clearly and lucidly communicate this to his or her intended audience.

Totanes is also quick to action, decisive and approaches an issue in a let's-get-this-done-because-really-it's-as-simple-as-123. No beating around the bush. The agenda is laid down. Take it for what it is. No room for sentiment or emotions. Trabaho lang. Ang pikon at balat sibuyas, ay...sorry na lang!

A leader sticks to the issue and faces it head on.

2. From Mr. Pinto, I realised the value of listening and consultation in leadership. This recognition of working in teams, collaborating with different people and allowing each to lend a voice in the conversation are all hallmarks of a compassionate and creative leader. As President of PLAI, Pinto must really listen to his co-leaders. Pinto is not PLAI and PLAI is not Pinto. He knows what public service entails after making the shift from private institution to government agency.

A leader listens. A leader works with people. A leader does not think he is the only one fighting a cause or running a project all by himself.

Now I know where this man from Cagayan gets his charm.

3. From Mrs. Abad, I realised the relevance of taking things into perspectives not just one's own, but from others and factors that influence them too. The approach she used to analyse the issue on leadership as applied to the issue of the #NationalNonLibrarian is the Iceberg technique where patterns of behavior, socio-cultural trends and aspects are considered as well as mental models that play a role in decision making. I like this technique because it makes for a good start in clarifying biases and prejudices. Then, one can move on to a more informed process of filing a complaint and in the issuance of statements of concern.

A leader looks at the big picture. Always considering the systems, structures and politics that shape human behavior.

In the 21st century, much is expected from us, LIS professionals. There are events and occasions where, like Dr. Totanes, we need to be decisive. We need to master language and the nuances of communication. Our profession is people oriented, thus, we need to learn how to listen well like Mr. Pinto. The mere act of sincere listening is an act of leadership. And then, like Mrs. Abad, we need to first examine our motives and see how it fits in the greater scheme of things. Leaders reflect and discern on actions that can contribute to the greater good.

What leadership style or approach do you adhere or believe in? What kind of librarian leader are you?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Summer Workshop: Writing Stories for Kids



The Php 2,500.00 workshop fee will cover snacks, writing materials and workshop handouts, and a free book! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Lighthouse Diary Entry 8: Taking a step backward

Around July last year, I was inspired to star a new blog entry about the work I do in the Beacon Academy. I had seven entries and here is a brief review of each.

Entry 1 - Collaboration and Collaborative Teaching Strategies - where I wrote about the challenges that collaboration entails plus, links to different teaching strategies.

Entry 2 - Desires, Passions and the World's Greatest Need - thoughts on the inspirational talk of Mr. Bobbit Suntay, one of our Board of Trustees and my response: to give a library orientation to our Griffins that deals about library issue I deeply care about. The importance of reading. The role of libraries in this day and age. The aspect of community in library development.

Entry 3 - The Theory of Knowledge Tree - how we responded and tried understanding the fruits of the Palawan Cherry tree that grows in the school campus.

Entry 4 - My Life as a Teacher Librarian - reflection on my roles as teacher librarians. I have been a part of the Beacon Academy community since it started out in the Binan campus (2011). Seven years! I was a different person back then and the roles I hold as teacher librarian has changed too.

Entry 5 - Research and High School Students - reflections on the reference work, readers services and on the counter instruction, direct and indirect.

Entry 6 - Student Made Zines in the Library - stretching the boundaries of school collection development, I am also responsible for the documentation and archiving purposes of students' works.

Entry 7 - Defining Research - more reflections on research. It never ends. Reflection. But it is the Action part that really makes reflection a worthy endeavour.

And now I begin another year of reflections on library work, teaching, research, working with teachers and students. Writing about them gives meaning to this little life I lead. I don't know what topics and issues I will be writing about. In cases like this, I trust my gut.

Life is a box of chocolates, said Forest Gump's mom. I will let life surprise me in all its flavours!




Sunday, April 8, 2018

What Keeps Us Alive: Art, Music and Storytelling

Before the Holy Week break, I had the wonderful opportunity to tell stories in two different occassions. The first one was in the Ayala Museum during the Himig Pasasalamat event of the Ayala Foundation to its sponsors, donors and partners. The second one was the opening exhibit of Peek-A-Book at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), where 13 Women Artists and Illustrators showcased their studies and illustrations on the picture books and storybooks they worked on with authors and local publishers. I had a grand time in both events, of course!

My storytelling at the Ayala Foundation thanksgiving ceremony was part and parcel of the main show where the UP Singing Ambassadors serenaded the guest, visitors and partners of the foundation with songs and choral pieces brimming with messages of love and service. In the second part of the UPSA’s program, I told and narrated the success stories of the foundation’s projects and the recipients of the scholarships and people empowerment programs they had. Having done training programs with and for CENTEX, I am a living witness to the inspiring real life stories of the children, teachers, parents and communities that CENTEX have helped and continously helping. 

 That night, I met old friends from the foundation. It was a memorable and meaningful moment for me too. Teacher Car Fernando whom I have worked with numerous training sessions and module writing projects with Centex remains the positive and generous person I have known back in our Sa Aklat Sisikat Days. Cheers to more years of service leadership, Teacher Car!

A few days after, on a Saturday before Palm Sunday, I found myself heading towards Roxas Boulevard. My shoulder was still frozen then, but the pain did not stop me from attending the opening of Peek-A-Book!



In CCP, I had fun reading aloud Habulan (Anvil Publishing, 2016) by Kora Dandan and Beth Doctolero. There were children present in the opening day of Peek-A-Book and the adults who were with them were as eager as they were in participating in the storytelling.

My book, Sparrow Makes A Home (Lampara, 2013) a wordless picture book illustrated by Bernadette Solina-Wolf is part of the art on exhibit. The art works are on display until May 6, 2018. So, if you are in town or in the Roxas Boulevard neighborhood, drop by the CCP to view the art works by 13 leading women book illustrators of this generation. 



There are art workshops and book launches scheduled on Saturday, April 28, 2018. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

We are AUTHORities!

We received our notice of acceptance from the National Book Development Board as presenters and facilitator in the 9th Philippine International Literary Festival (PILF)!

Session 1: Out of the Books Storytelling Techniques
Format: Workshop

Tentative Venue: Little Theatre (30: pax capacity)
Moderator: Melanie Ramirez
Date and Time: April 19, 2018 10:50am - 12:00nn

Session 2: Project LEARN
Format: Forum 
Tentative Venue: Main Theatre Lobby (200: pax capacity)
Speakers: Zarah Gagatiga, Darrel Marco, MJ Cagumbay Tumamac 
Date and Time: April 19, 2018, 4:05-5:05pm

The 9th PILF will be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on April 19-20, 2018.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Bibliotherapy Service in the School Library

One delightful discovery I had in my recent PAASCU visit to San Beda College's Integrated Basic Education Library was the Bibliotherapy Services that the school librarians conduct for their high school students. The service is part of the formation program of the Office of the Student Services that include the Guidance department and the Formation and Spirituality team. The Bibliotherapy Service was started out by Mr. Richard Sarmiento who attended my workshop on BiblioCare in Sagada in 2014. The workshop was part of the summer conference which the MUNPARLAS Librarians Association organised for its member libraries and other interested librarians from all over the Philippines.

Though Mr. Sarmiento has left San Beda, the school librarians in the high school level continue on with the service, coordinating with the formation and guidance departments. While the basic foundations of the Bibliotherapy process is kept in practice by the librarians, there are new additions to the procedure that make it a "Bedan" program. This only goes to show that innovation and creativity are actualised through collaborative work and community effort.

Having witnessed the Bibliotherapy Service as a viable strategy to help young adult learners reflect on their actions and realise their potentials for growth, I surge to revisit my existing works and writings on Bibliotherapy surfaced. Here are links of my Bibliotherapy materials and resources I have developed over the years.

Interviews on Bibliotherapy

Interview by Librarian Kevin  - Bibliotherapy 101 for school librarians

Special Education and Bibliotherapy Part 1 (2016)
Special Education and Bibliotherapy Part 2 (2016)
Special Education and Bibliotherapy Part 3 (2016)

Bibliotherapy on LibRadio and a Philippine Based Research on Bibliotherapy (2014)

For the record, it was the Philippine Association of Academic and Research Librarians (PAARL) who first dared and put their stake to have me as speaker and workshop facilitator on Bibliotherapy. This was back in 2010. The presentation slides I used can be accessed via my SlideShare Page. A year after, PAARL invited me again to broaden the coverage of Bibliotherapy as a readers' services program. The half-day workshop became a modular training on library prescription shop and bibliotherapy services for a whole day's session.

What followed were a series of workshops on  Bibliotherapy at the Gurong Kaakbay Conference (2011 and 2012)the PASLI Summer Conference in Baguio City (2011)the IASL Annual Conference in Bali, Indonesia (2013)BiblioCare Workshop in Sagada (2014), and the Quezon City Public Library Bibliotherapy Workshop (2016)

Materials and resources on Bibliotherapy in the school setting

PowerPoint Slides on Bibliotherapy (Stories and Storytelling for Growth and Healing)
Worksheets on Bibliotherapy (Handouts and worksheets)
Adamson University Library's Start Up Bibliotherapy Collection (Collection Development)
The Reading Passport as Bibliotherapy Tool (Reading into Writing)
Bibliotherapy for Out of School Youths (Young Adult Library Services)

There are plenty more write ups in the blog's archive. I have only selected the more important ones. If anything, the experience at San Beda College in Alabang has inspired me to reactivate this service beyond collection development in my library. Who knows, a new academic paper or even a program may come out from this rumination and visitation.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Cut and Tear Storytelling Technique: Joseph and His Overcoat

Around November last year, I was invited by a group of Library and Information Science graduate students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines to give a talk on Media and Information Literacy. Needless to say, it was well received.

As I was on my way out, the group requested for a parting shot. I told them of Joseph's Overcoat, a cut and tell storytelling technique I learned from my dear friend, Dianne de Las Casas (+).



The opportunity to create something out of nothing is always present! Seize it!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Filipino Librarian of the Month: Mariquit “Kit” Pedrasa

The Filipino Librarian of the Month is Ms. Mariquit "Kit" Pedrasa, licensed librarian of Lyceum, Calamba Laguna. She is the 2018 Outstanding Librarian conferred by the Consortium of the South. In this interview, Ms. Pedrasa shares with us a slice of her life as a researcher and licensed librarian.

What was your approach and attitude during the panel interview?

During the panel interview, I shared my experiences to describe the background of my activities such as the organization of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Library, writing a paper about it, and presenting it to an international conference, and some other activities which presented the range of skills I have which I think validated the submitted documents. 

I considered the interview as mere conversation with colleagues so I will not feel nervous. 

What has been the best thing that has happened to you since you became a licensed librarian?

There were numerous remarkable things happened to me since I became a license librarian

It includes writing papers, leading a team in organizing the NCIP Library, oral presentations, etc., but the most memorable for me is the experience of mingling with colleagues in an international event who listened to my paper presentation.

We exchanged ideas, which made me motivate to write more papers about our profession, present them locally and internationally to share whatever knowledge or learnings I have. 

Where do you place yourself in the bigger scheme of Library and Information Science (LIS) in the Philippines?

As of now, I still consider myself as newbie or novice in the profession who still has to learn the motion, but at the same time I would like to be governess to young LIS learners by sharing whatever learnings I earn while learning and mastering the waves.

 Tell us something about your research on Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines.

The research describes the challenges and opportunities in organizing an Indigenous Peoples Library. The challenges includes the classification, organization, and digitization of IP reading materials, and other artefacts, establishing library services, generating reports, installing a library system. 

These challenges were all addressed through an approved Library Operations Plan which served as the guide in implementing the innovations. The opportunities include the commission considered a job order for a full time licensed librarian to manage and sustain the implemented innovations, counting the NCIP Library in the commission's budget proposal, and the linkages with other agencies to strengthen its resource network.

What do you wish to see in the LIS profession today?

In the near future, I would like the LIS profession to become dynamic leaders not only in their library organization but to their mother institution as well, actively engaging in research and community services to make an impact to the society. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Filipino Librarians in the South of Manila

I have had the pleasure of attending three wonderful librarian events in the past three weeks: 1) the conversation with peers on the decision to award the Outstanding Librarian and Library Staff of the Consortium of the South; 2) the Reading Conference at Southville International Schools and Colleges; and 3) the MUNPARLAS Librarians’ Association Incorporated’s (MLAI) Librarians Walk for a Cause, a modelling stint where librarians walked with kids and teens with disabilities. Needless to say, these events are indicative of the active growth and movement of  school librarians in the south of Manila.



Librarians from the Consortium of the South, composed of schools and colleges in Pasay, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Las Piñas and Laguna, organized the search for the Outstanding Librarian and Library Staff of the year. This is to recognise librarians and staff who have made valuable contributions to their learning communities. Reading and examining the documents of each candidate, I conclude that these librarians and library staff are of consequence to their learning communities because they are self-starters consciously aware to develop their personal skills and professional competence. During the interview, their confidence in themselves was shinning through and their gratitude to their mother institutions was heart felt. It was one of the toughest judging job I had in a while!



On March 2, I gave a short lecture on digital learning and how the library play an important role in support of digital learners. Organized by the librarians of Southville International School and Colleges, the conference was another experience of professional growth. I may have been the group’s guest speaker, but interacting with participants and organizers was a learning experience for me too. To educate and form learners of the future, we all need to work together. Each of us playing a role and making contributions big and small for the growth  of the profession.



Lastly, the MLAI’s Librarians’ Walk for A Cause was a well received event by librarians and “non-librarians” whom MLAI have partnered with. The fashion show benefits the education if teens with disabilities from the Cradle of Joy Learning Center in Quezon City. Kids and teens walked down the cat walk and the librarians who joined them were all fully dressed in their smart casuals with a smile!



Cheers to everyone! Looking forward to more
events and activities that foster compassion, friendly competition and collaboration!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Alternative Storytelling Strategies: Out of the Books Storytelling

The image that comes to mind with the word storytelling is that of an elder, a parent, a teacher, an “ate” or a “kuya” holding an open book to a listening child or to a group of young people. The story is read aloud from the book of choice that has illustrations aiding the storyteller in the dramatic narration of the story. The storyteller would then add body movements, a chant or a song, and would use the given space for theatrical effects. All of these efforts by the storyteller are directed to achieve engagement and interaction with the audience. 



This storytelling technique is known as Book-Based Storytelling, a hybrid of storytelling and reading aloud. Thank you to the ingenious Filipino storyteller for this invention. Book-Based Storytelling as a means to promote the book and to model the reading habit, deriving entertainment or the element of fun in the process is here to stay. In recent years, Book-Based Storytelling has been the norm in many activities that promote reading and in events that campaign for literacy development. In storytelling contests in schools, libraries and book fairs, adult and child contestants hold a book while telling a story. This technique has indeed become an accepted practice, however, there are teachers and librarians who argue that it is reading aloud and not storytelling.

Storytelling is rooted from the oral tradition. It is a living art. Natural. Spontaneous. Unscripted. A Read Aloud is reading a story from a book loud enough for a listening child or a group of kids to hear the story. Storytelling is a way to preserve oral history and personal stories of peoples. A Read Aloud celebrates the written word and the dynamics of language structures. Storytelling is a performance art not limited to the narration of stories but inclusive of music, dance and theatre arts. A Read Aloud is a good technique to teach children how to read and to love the printed book at an early age. Each has a purpose and a function. A storyteller should be wise enough to know when to use one from the other.

Nonetheless, who are we to stop Filipino storytellers adept at combining both techniques in an experience that is educational and entertaining? Then again, here is a caveat. The frequent use of Book-Based Storytelling may lead the storyteller into complacency leaving the listener bored and disengaged. Instead of inspiring the listener to imagine, to create and to play with words and visuals that the mind can conjure, the storyteller’s execution of the storytelling becomes a canned production. 



Storytellers are also artists who share the responsibility of keeping humanity’s sense of wonder alive and well. 

I believe that Book-Based Storytelling has its benefits, but using a variety of styles and different manner of communicating a story, especially to children, is good for the soul. Allow me to share a selection of “out of the books” storytelling techniques. I learned them from storytellers I have met in festivals, conferences and book fairs here and overseas. 

They are called “out of the books” because the techniques do not use printed books in storytelling. These techniques trace their origin in oral tradition, in folklore and in traditional games that children from around the world play and enjoy.
 
Storyknifing or Draw and Tell

A story knife is a blunt piece of wood used by young Eskimo girls to draw on the mud while talking about their drawings to friends around a story circle. Young Native American Indians use a knife to carve images on barks of trees that narrate their adventures and experiences in the fields or during hunting trips. In modern day classrooms, teachers use chalk or whiteboard markers on the blackboard or whiteboard to draw ideas and concepts that are too big or difficult to express in words. 

Storyknifing or Draw and Tell is the technique where a storyteller draws while he or she tells a story. There are many patterns that can be used and these are available online. One Draw and Tell story I remember to this day is Bingo, the Dog. (Attached is the drawing and the accompanying story or text)

Cut and Tell 

This technique makes use of paper, scissors and a story. For younger audiences, the storyteller can use his or her hands to tear away parts of the paper when telling. My favorite Cut and Tell story is Joseph and His Overcoat. I learned this story and technique from a dear friend, Fil-Am storyteller, Dianne de Las Casas (+) 

Kamishibai 

Kami is Japanese for paper and shibai means play or drama. Kamishibai storytelling is the use of flashcards, 12-20 pieces inside a box known as Kamishibai Theatre box. The storyteller pulls out each card as he or she narrates the story. This style of storytelling was a fad in Japan in the 1920s but soon diminished as the tradition of visual storytelling using picture cards was replaced by television and video games. 



Parents and early grades teachers can easily create story flashcards by first selecting a story for the listening child or for the class. Five to ten flashcards are a good starting point. Divide the story accordingly to the number of flashcards. Illustrate or draw each part of the story and color them. Many Kamishibai have story guides at the back. The idea, however, is for the storyteller to fluidly tell the story using the flashcards and the theatre box without looking at the guide written at the back of each card.

Use of props like handkerchief and malong
Remember the many folding games we played using handkerchiefs when we were children? Cat’s cradle. A bandana. A table napkin that looks like a candle. A folded boy or person which can be turned into a puppet. These can all be used in telling stories. 

The malong is another tool for storytelling. Wrap it around your head as a cap or crown. Wear it around your body as clothes. Tie both ends and carry it like a bag. Place the malong around your waist like a skirt. Use them all to tell stories, especially those that come from Mindanao. 



Use of hands and Finger Plays

When storytellers narrate a story, it is inevitable that they use their hands, arms and even shoulders. Body parts are props. The entire body is a tool for telling and communicating stories. Make use of your hands and fingers in the classroom or at home when telling stories. A well loved storytelling and Finger Play technique I use in my sessions is Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle. (See the illustrations/directions with accompanying story and text.)

    
These five “out of the books” storytelling are but a few of the many techniques available out there for use by teachers, parents and librarians during story time. Knowing different strategies keep the creative juices flowing. But, knowing your audience and the appropriate time, event or occasion to use these techniques can also spell the success of a storytelling session. Have fun! 

References:

de Las Casas, Dianne. Handmade Tales: Stories to Make and Take. Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2008.

Feldman, Jean. Best of Dr. Jean Feldman Puppets & Storytime: More Than 100 Delightful, Skill Building Ideas and Activities for Early Learners. New York: Scholastic, 2005.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Book Project Preview: A birthday and a video game console

Here are two studies from new book project that I have been working on with a librarian-artist. 



Can you guess who the artist is?



Can you guess what the story is all about?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Creating a Wordless Picture Book

With Bernadette and friends, Peanuts Pañares and Totet de JesusOn Saturday, March 24, 2018 Bernadette Solina-Wolf’s rendition of the story I wrote, Sparrow Makes A Home (Lampara Books, 2014)  in a wordless picture book will be on exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Her illustrations (and I hope the manuacript too) on Sparrow Makes A Home is part of the art exhibit Peek-A-Book Children’s Book Illustrations by 13 Women Artists. In this interview, my dear friend Bernadette, shares her creative process in illustrating a a wordless picture book and tells her origin story in becoming an illustrator of children’s books.

1. How did you approach illustrating Sparrow Makes A Home since it was conceptualized as a wordless picture book?

 I imagined it like a comic book without the thought bubbles.

2. What makes it different from illustrating a children’s picture book or storybook with words? 

I really found it more challenging since I had to fill out all the gaps visually.  You see, in a storybook with words, there is more a give and take of the words/narrative of the author and images of the illustrator.  In a storybook with words,the writer can make make the transitions from page to page and the illustrator just makes sure the attention of the reader is captured and then supplements the text. In a wordless piicture book, the illustrator has all the responsibility to made a story/idea cohesive and yet visually exciting.


Sparrow Makes A Home is one of fhe 12 books in the Start Right Reading Series (STARS) for Kindergarten. The learning package includes a teacher’s guide and a parent’s manual. The STARS series is published by Lampara Books.

3. How long have you been illustrating books for kids? What changes in the industry have you observed that have made an impact on women illustrators?

I had the opportunity to illustrate children's books since the 1990's. 

Actually, when you now speak of gender...I can only speak for myself.  I got married and since then I stopped illustrating for children's books. To keep myself honed somewhat in my art, I would make Christmas and birthday cards and we would send them to my parents-in-law in Germany.  It took me another 10 years to find myself back to illustrating.  It was my mother-in-law who told my husband I had a a gift for drawing expressive people and she would always send me art materials. It didn't make a dent in me until...I made a trip to Megamall. Power Books had still a huge store there.  I was in awe.  A huge section of the store had  dedicated itself to Philippine children's books!!! I was nearly in tears!  (Philippine children's books have been recognized!)  Most of them were books illustrated by Beth Parrocha and Jason Moss! By then I said to myself, I'm going back to illustration. So, if your question if for "women illustrator", this woman illustrator saw the "light" in that moment. 



There is a Picture Book Making Workshop on March 24, 2018 before the Opening Ceremonies. It will be conducted by Frances Alvarez. On April 28, 2018, Liza Flores will be conducting a paper-cut art workshop in the morning and Adarna House will launch books in the afternoon. The Peek-A-Book exhibit will run from March 24, 2018 till May 6, 2018.

It’s Women’s Month and Mother’s Day is in May. Celebrate it by viewing artworks made by Filipino women artists!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Effective School Librarianship: Successful Professional Practice From Librarians Around the World

Three years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Patrick Lo in Osaka, Japan for the IAFOR (International Academic Forum) Conference. We were both paper presenters on school libraries, school librarians and leadership. At the time, he was working on a manuscript on comparative librarianship. Dr. Lo moderated the session where I presented my paper on School Librarians as Literacy Leaders. From there on, we had regular conversations on school librarianship in the region. This conversations led to my participation in his book project.

The good news is, the book is already published and can be bought online since December 2017!

Effective School Librarianship: Successful Professional Practice From Librarians Around the World is published by Apple Academic Press. Check the link for information on the book's price, content and reviews.

Here is one review by Dr. Helen Boelens, of the International Association of School Librarians, Special Interest Group (SIG)

“Fascinating reading . . . The authors have collected interviews from school librarians throughout the world. Some of these people work under very difficult circumstances. Interviewees have mentioned a multitude of “secrets” of their successful work. . . . It is my hope that, after reading this book, educators, teachers, and librarians and also members of the general public will have a better understanding of school librarianship across the world and that they will be inspired to cooperate with each other in many different ways, assisting those who desperately need help and support. This would be in the best interest of the children whom they serve and relates to their duty of care as educators.” 

—From the Foreword by Dr. Helen Boelens, International school library researcher and consultant; Former Chair, IASL Research SIG, The Netherlands
The book is described as:

The school librarians’ best practices cover innovative ways to encourage students to (1) read voluntarily for pleasure and for information; (2) to gain basic information literacy skills for the navigation, evaluation and use of information; (3) and to develop competence as independent learners—a key factor for successful enquiry-based learning.

The books are jam-packed with information that can be used by school librarians, teachers, school administrators and others in a variety of ways. Readers can borrow best practices from the experiences presented in the book, and the volumes can also serve as a strong voice for the practicing school librarians and the profession, through expanding the opportunities for professional sharing in the international school librarian community.


There are fourteen school librarians and teacher librarians in Asia in PART 2 of the book and I am honoured to be one of them. Most of all, I am very much interested to get a copy of the book to read the stories of colleagues from outside the Philippines, their best practices and success stories, how they hurdle road blocks and break down walls. 

What we think is unique to us may actually be something we share in common to colleagues from outside the shores of this archipelago. 



Friday, March 9, 2018

Teen Tech Week 2018: Student Made Website

Because it is Teen Tech Week, I am sharing this project of one of our students in the Academy.

Darwin Angelo "Drake" Velasco is one of our avid readers in the library. He is in grade 11 and previous to the Academy, he went to Don Bosco Technical College. Of the many exciting things Drake experienced at the beginning of the year was the library's collection. It is in a small room full of books -- and more!

During the first semester, Drake borrowed and read books like there was no tomorrow. Inspired by all the readings he made, he asked if I can be his supervisor for a Creative Action and Service (CAS) project. His project is a website of books and his reviews. Of course, I said yes.

Below is the main page of Drake's website which he named Beacon Academy Library Spotlight.


Since Drake asked for comments, I sent him the following feedback.

On Authorship and Content
You can be more specific by using Web Administrator and Book Reviewer instead of Author.

You have a sample synopsis for The Outsiders and it's in your recommended list. I was expecting to read a short review of the book written by you. Many websites provide info and summary on books and readers get the same stuff. A book review changes that. A book review makes the book more interesting because a reader talks about it from his/her experience of engaging with the text, the book's author and creative team. Be it a good review or not, it helps readers decide for themselves whether they will read the book or go for the next recommended read (this is how Amazon and publishing houses earn!). Having said this, let me go to the next comment: PURPOSE.

Go back to your WHY. You love to read. You love books. You discovered reading treasures in the BA Library. You want to share this love and this joyful discovery. Your platform in sharing this love and discovery is a  website. Through the website, you communicate the books you found as awesome, books that others may enjoy too, or at the very least, may lead to inquiry and reflection. Ask yourself: does the entire look of the website and its content show that love and joy? Does your writing reflect Drake, the reader and book enthusiast?

Cite and include references as necessary, especially in your synopsis. What is your source for the opening quote: the journey of a lifetime begins with the turning of the page?

On the WEBSITE design
Please use BA Library photos and for this, get in touch with Mr. Flynn and ask for help.

Please include the BA Library OPAC link so your readers can get the Call no. making the location of the book easier for them to know. Also, at first glance, a full bibliographic data below the photo cover of the book is a MUST. I call them the fantastic five: author/illustrator, title, publisher, place of publication, year published/copyright.
Did you ask permission from the school's communications associate on the use of the BA logo?

On sustainability and continuity
Can you manage a weekly post of five to six books? Consider your academic work load.
Share the website with friends, BA and non-BA, and ask them for feedback to. When they give back comments, know which ones are worthy of consideration to help you improve the website's content and over all design. A criteria can help you decide on the feedback to keep and the disregard. We can sit down on this or, you may start looking at website criteria online. Just make sure your sources are credible and valid.
You may consult your teachers too, like your English or Filipino teachers and your friends who also love to read. They can give feedback especially on content, design and functionality of the website.

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Teen Tech Week 2018: Libraries Are for Creating


Teen Teck Week Sources and Activities - where you can get and download free plans, logos and PDFs of brochures and activities.

The American Library Association supports Teen Tech Week - where you can read a brief but substantial description on Teen Tech Week.

Top Ten Books for Teens - where you can read reviews and get lists of top ten books that the Young Adult Library Services Association  (YALSA) releases every year.

Teen Book Finder - this is a database, so this is where you can find books for the young adult reader.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Priming Session: Supporting Digital Learners Through Library Programs & Services

Hi friends!

If you are a participant to Southville International School and Colleges' 1st Reading Forum, please do the activities below.

FIRST: Answer this survey. It is very important that you do this because much of our talk will depend on the result of the survey. Deadline for answering and getting of responses is at 1PM, March 2, 2018.



SECOND: Watch these videos.

Engage Me!



Pay Attention



THIRD: Think through these questions.

a. What struck you from the video, Engage Me? It can be the message or the media in which the message was communicated. It can be a personal experience that is also present in the video. Write it down and have these insights, responses and reflections ready for our session tomorrow.

b. What did you PAY ATTENTION to in the second video? Why did "it" catch your attention? Look or review aspects and factors of that "it" that made your attention linger on it.

If you are not a participant of in the forum, you can still do the activities and share your comments below. You can also send me an email or a PM over at Messenger. Let us continue the conversation!

See you soon!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Thoughts on Research in the High School Level

How do we define research? Does it need definition since it is, for most part a thinking skill that is made visible through a written output? Or something tangible like a project, a module, an art work... I think what I need is to ground the idea or the concept of research into statements or beliefs.

1. Research is asking questions ans finding answers. 

2. Research is a process that entails collaboration - not just cooperation and coordination.

3. Research is a conversation.

4. Research is an invitation for you to stand on the shoulders of giants. And this is both an honor and a privilege.

I wonder how my colleagues see research and, in the practice of teaching ATLs, how would a belief or thesis statement on research factor in effective pedadgogy.  

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Be Weave: Librarians Walk for a Cause

At the beginning of February, the MUNPARLAS Library Association gathered around fifty librarians for a benefit modeling gig. 

You read it right! 



Filipino Librarians will walk down a runaway along with special children and teens with disablities. Dubbed as the Be Weave Special Collection, the benefit modeling event is for the Cradle of Learners, a school specializing in the education of kids and teens with special needs and disabilities.




As one of the fifty volunteer librarians, what we had last February 3 was a practice walk with our teen/child partners. You have no idea how good we were at the catwalk especially the Filipino male librarians present! So, I enjoin you to support MUNPARLAS and the leadership of its officers. Come watch your friends let their hair down and be confidently beautiful with a heart!



Tickets are priced at Php 250.00. The Be Weave Special Collection is on March 4, 2018, at the Bahay ng Alumni, UP Diliman. Fashion show begins at 6pm.

Photo: Be Weave poster courtesy of Audrey Anday

Lecture: Supporting Our Digital Learners: The Library’s Role




Sunday, February 25, 2018

Book Display: Paws for Reading

PAWS for READING
It was Chinese New Year last February 16, 2018! Because it is the Year of the Dog, my staff, Flynn, set up this book display to highlight library books about dogs and the canines we love.

My personal favorites from the recommended books on display are Laika and Stargazing Dog, graphic novels that show man's relationship with his best friend, the loyal dog.

In Stargazing Dog (Takashi Murakami), an old man retreats from the world and dies in a field of sunflowers. He is survived by his pet dog, who stayed with him until his last breath. Laika (Nick Abadzis), is a historical fiction about the first living creature sent into outer space by the Soviet Union during the space race. Issues on animal rights and the ethics behind scientific experiments are subtly discussed in the graphic novel.

We got good comments from members of the community who are dog lovers. Here's hoping they pick up the books on display.
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