Tuesday, March 20, 2018

(Backup) 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 (+) 


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! 


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!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Peek-A-Book Children's Book Illustrations by 13 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!
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