Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Gabriela Lee, Salanga Prize Winner 2019 (2 of 2)

Gabriela Lee, Salanga Prize Winner 2019, reveals to us her five favorite children’s books, what makes them special and the story she wished she had written. 

4. What are your Top 5 children’s books? What makes them special?

Sarimanok and Ibong Adarna by Nick Joaquin
- This book was part of the set Pop Stories for Groovy Kids that was published by Mr. & Mrs. in the 1970s. They are fantastic big books with amazing illustrations and crazy stories written by our National Artist for Literature. In particular, this story was a retelling and reinvention of “Ang Ibong Adarna” but updated for a modern audience, and I loved that both protagonists were girls who were impetuous and brave and adventurous. 

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
- I am a big, big fan of Jon Klassen but this is my favorite book in The Hat Trilogy. The pacing is hilarious and the ending is both macabre but at the same time it just kills you with laughter.

Leo the Late Bloomer by Jose Aruego
- This is another book that came out in the 1980s, I think, and I remember reading this and thinking that I am like Leo, that I liked observing things and thinking about things and watching other people do things before I did something. I could relate to Leo’s feelings of being inadequate, and I was also very lucky that I had supportive parents who allowed me to find my own way.

Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak
- This is a gorgeously-illustrated book that is reminiscent of the film “The Labyrinth” with David Bowie, except that there was no Elf King in this story. It follows the same pattern, with a child kidnapped by goblins and an older sister trying to find him. The drawings are exquisite and detailed and quite uncanny, if you think about it, and very unlike the Maurice Sendak we see in other books. I think I also liked this book because there were times when I was wondering if my baby brother was kidnapped, which was why he was so noisy. 🙂 

We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems
- This is one of the Elephant and Piggy books, but what I love about this particular volume is its use of metafictive techniques in order to show the child reader the value of reading as well as the physicality of a book. It’s a great little tribute to stories and oral storytelling, and I love using this book for storytelling sessions because it’s so much fun.

Luis and the Enchanted Creatures by Marcy Dans-Lee
- I know, this is an extra one, but I need to mention my mom’s book because otherwise she’ll strangle me. 😀 But truly, this is probably one of the first children’s stories that focused on modernizing and reconfiguring our perception of some of the better-known creatures of Philippine lower mythology, and I love this book for it. 

5. What is a story you wish you had written?

I have two books that I wish I wrote: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire and Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Both of them capture the alienation and wonder of childhood in a truthful and recognizable manner. They don’t shy away from the complexities and strangeness of being a child - rather, they explore it bravely, and show us the magic and resilience of childhood.

Visit Ms. Lee’s official author website, 
Sometimes Sunlight for more of her adventures, stories and essays.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Gabriela Lee, Salanga Prize Winner 2019 (1 of 2)

Gabriela Lee is the winner of the 2019 Salanga Prize for her story, A Delicate Strength: The Story and Art of Araceli Limcaco Dans. She was awarded the PBBY-Salanga medal and cash prize last July 16, 2019 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines during the 36th National Children’s Book Day celebration. In this two-part interview, Ms. Gabriela Lee shares with us her thoughts about awards, tips for the aspiring writer and the crocodile that lived in her great grandfather’s pool!

1. How real was the crocodile?

The crocodile was real! Apparently, my great-grandfather had a tendency to bring back all sorts of animals back to the Manila house when he came back after travelling the Philippines. As far as Lola remembers, their house was a veritable zoo at that time. 

2. What do you think of winning or losing in writing awards?

This is my first time winning a proper writing award, aside from scholastic things in high school and college, so it feels great. But I have a rather laid-back attitude towards writing awards - I think that they’re nice, if you get them, but ultimately you have to direct your art towards a purpose beyond just getting a medal and seeing your name in lights. For me, I joined the PBBY-Salanga this year because of the limitations of the topic, which is the biography. I wanted the world to know about my grandmother, who is a pretty awesome woman in her own right, and who promoted art education and visual literacy - something that I think is very important in this day and age. So it wasn’t about winning, but about Lola and her work. 

L-R: PBBY President Tarie Sabido, Araceli Limaco Dans, Gabriela Lee and Cris Millado, Vice Chairman of CCP

In general, I think that it’s great for a new or beginning writer to test their mettle against others in a friendly competition, but it should never be the center of your writing life. Winning is great, but your writing should not be about just winning, but about other aspirations beyond the competition. And that’s a difficult thing to think about.

3. What tips can you share to the aspiring writer of children’s stories?

First of all, READ! You can’t write anything if you don’t read anything. Read things that you think will help you write - genres and authors and stories that share a kinship with your creative process. If you don’t read stories, it becomes very difficult to know what’s out there, and how your stories contribute to the bigger world.

Second, you need DISCIPLINE! Writing isn’t about talent or inspiration. It’s about showing up to the blank page and banging out words. The words might not be good at first, or they might be slow to come, but you just need to put one letter in front of the other until you find yourself building a story. Writing isn’t just about talent. It’s about doing the work and keeping yourself accountable.

Finally, FIND A READER! Preferably someone you trust and someone who is capable of providing concise and helpful criticism. It can be a friend, a teacher, a colleague, someone you meet over the Internet. Make sure it’s someone who you can rely on who will give you honest advice for revisions, and someone who knows enough about the field you’re writing within that they are also familiar with the conventions and techniques you are using.

Are you interested and inspired to read more of Ms. Gabriela Lee’s stories and essays? Visit her website at 
Sometimes Sunlight. She is the granddaughter of Araceli Limcaco Dans.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Interview: A Database of Philippine Children’s Literature

Here is part 2 of my interview on building a database of Philippine Children’s Literature.

7.. What do you think can be improved about children’s picture books in the country?

To answer this question, one has to look at the book industry as an ecosystem and as an enterprise of knowledge creation and management. There are role players and communities that contribute to its growth and development. These are the content creators, the readers, distributors, researchers and educators, stakeholders and policy makers. Each has to play an active role in the improvement of children’s books. There are different agencies and institutions in government and the private sector that are assigned or do specific roles like the PBBY, the NBDB, the Book Development Association of the PH, the DepEd, the National Library of the Philippines, the CCP, NCCA and a host of NGOs. 

If you ask each role player, each agency and institution you will get a different answer. But their answers need to be connected and woven together. Or else, who will read the books? How can content creators continue creating if not for the readers and the system that support their art? For example, if I say that books in the mother tongue as developed in the regions is a potential area of growth, who do you think would be involved in its development and improvements? 

To quote Ramon Sunico, poet and teacher, a book is a dream dreamed by a team. 

How strong is the book development team and the ecosystem to which this team operates in so that it can continuously create?

8. Do you think it’s necessary to create an online database for children’s picture books in the Philippines? Who would it benefit, what are its values? Would it elevate the status of children’s illustration as an art form/create more visibility for it?

Librarians and libraries create databases for a number of reasons  namely, for organization of knowledge, for access to information, for memory and remembering, for posterity, to sustain culture and art, to curate what is valuable to specific groups of thinkers and learners, to strengthen the knowledge infrastructure of specific disciplines.

A database is not the only factor that can elevate the art of a book maker, a writer, an artist and a reader. Also, there are many ways to make art and book making more visible. There is no one solution, really, because art, in general does not grow and develop ina straight line.

9. Should the database actually store .pdf files of the children’s picture books, or should it simply just contain the picture book titles, authors, illustrators, summaries and the places where people can purchase or view the books?

Who are the end users of the database? Consider first the learning community or the group of artists who will benefit from the database. How do they create art? How can their art be preserved, restored and archived? What about copyright and intellectual property? How can he database be sustained?

For all you know, there is already an existing database of children’s books in the country in the

big universities, museums and the National Library. Maybe what we need is a “union” catalog or a centralized database where in, libraries and institutions with databases of children’s books and literature can pool all of these resources in a unified database.

10. Would orgs like CANVAS/PBBY/INK find this database helpful? 11. How can CANVAS/PBBY/INK contribute in the creation of this database?

They can be a part of the development, but a committee or a commission must be the lead agency to do this. Right now, I don’t who can. 

12. Do you have any recommendation/suggestions related to creating a database like this? Is it better to create a directory or database, etc.

I think I have some suggestions already in previous questions.

13. Do you know any other related source material I can look into?

Visit schools, colleges and universities offering Children’s Literature courses. They may have a wealth of research and resources already. All we need is to find and mine it!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Becoming A Reading Companion

Thank you very much MUNPARLAS Library Association Inc. (MLAI) and the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) for taking me in as a workshop facilitator during the week when the country celebrated National Children’s Book Day (NCBD). The workshop at National Bookstore Cubao with MLAI and the Baguio Central School with PBBY were well attended by young librarians and teachers eager to know and learn about Bibliotherapy. I learned a lot too! When one teachers, one learns.

I learned that good stories, well told and carefully crafted will stand the tests of time. In both workshops, participants recognize Augie Rivera’s book, Alamat ng Ampalaya as an endearing story of fairness and justice. But with the books I brought and the ones available in the store and on sale at the workshop venue, participants were exposed to more books with stories written for the young and the young at heart.

Teachers and librarians in Baguio Central School read and talked about books.

Teachers and librarians love to read children’s books. We kept saying in the children’s book industry that the books we create and distribute are for children and yet, I often see many adults in bookish events for kids. When can we put kids and adults together to enjoy books, stories and play? I can only think of the Komikon and the Komiket where the divide in ages and stages do not exist. 

Children’s literature is the literature of childhood as much as it is the literature for young people. It is hope and all the dreams we wish to fulfill. I will always keep this in mind.

Librarians making their mood boards, an exercise on creativity and spontaneity.

For my future workshops on Bibliotherapy, I will begin with the self and yes, I will do activities on creativity, play and wonder. I will also introduce and re-introduce children’s books to teachers, librarians and adults who work with and for children. We can get information from books and stories. Reading them also fills the emptiness in our souls. Be it a child or a grown-up, either will need a reading companion.

Teachers and librarians, let’s be reading companions! Let’s do Bibliotherapy! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Adrian Panadero, Alcala Prize Winner 2019

This year’s Alcala Prize winner, Adrian Panadero, graciously agreed for an interview. It was a pleasure to have met him last week at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He was awarded a medal and cash prize while his mother beams with pride in the audience.

Read on and know more about his works, style and approach in illustrating for books for kids.

1. How did you approach illustrating A Delicate Strength?

This is interesting because when I was illustrating A Delicate Strength, there was a question that loomed at the back of my head. Should I stay true to Mrs. Dans’ realist style or should I make it more fantastical or whimsical? In the end, I brought my approach back to the story’s title. I wanted my illustrations to have a very graceful, delicate, and whimsical quality, yet still look grounded in realism. It’s a big theme throughout the story - finding beauty and strength in delicate, sometimes mundane objects - so I really wanted it to show in the illustrations. 

Also, I was a fan of Mrs. Dans’ work. Many people say that my illustrations can be very mabusisi or detailed. That’s also something that I wanted to show, so I added the callados Mrs. Dans is famous for. Actually, a part of why I chose to enter this year was that I just really wanted to illustrate callados. Hehe. 

2. What is your advice to kids who are thinking of pursuing a career in the arts?

I’d like to tell them to not be afraid of making mistakes and letting their minds and hands wander. Nobody starts out perfect. Don’t be discouraged when you end up making something you’re not proud of. Be excited about it! Because that’s when self-improvement and discovery comes. I feel like with social media, it’s very easy to compare your work with others. However, you’re the only one who can do you, so focus on your craft and enjoy creating. 

Panadero at the National Children’s Book Day awarding ceremonies in CCP last July 16, 2019.

3. What are your top 5 children’s books and why?

  1. Alamat ng Ampalaya - This was my first vivid memory of a Filipino children’s book, so this book occupies a special place in my heart. To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of Filipino children’s books growing up - many of the books on my list, I discovered while lingering in bookstores. However, for this book, I remember being so fascinated with the Ampalaya wearing the colourful costume it made by stealing from the other vegetables. 
  2. Isang Harding Papel - I love how this book tells the story of Martial Law in a very personal, intimate, and even heart-wrenching way. The storytelling device of the paper flowers was so beautiful.
  3. And Ambisyosong Istetoskop - I love how the story of Jose Rizal is told endearingly through this book. I also love how the book ends, with the stethoscope being proud that it’s displayed in a museum honouring its owner. 
  4. What Kids Should Know About Filipino Food - As a kid, I was into encyclopedic books which would share facts on different topics accompanied with varied illustrations. This book reminds me of an encyclopedia, only that it focuses on food, is more engaging, and with adorable and vivid illustrations. 
  5. Alice in Wonderland Pop-up Book by Robert Sabuda - I am into paper engineering, so I just have to mention this book. It’s a retelling of the fairy tale brought to life by amazing pop-ups by master paper engineer Robert Sabuda. I find myself being speechless whenever I get to open this book. 

4. Apart from finishing the illustrations for A Delicate Strength, what other art projects are you busy with and would need support and promotion?

I have 1 book out entitled Intramuros: The Walled City, a cut and build book which readers can take apart to build a paper model of Intramuros. I’m currently working on the follow-up to this book, so hopefully we get to release it next year. 

Other than that, I am a graphic designer by profession. I work at a branding studio called And  A Half. We work on different brands ranging from restaurants to real estate, skin clinics to schools. We’re looking into working on higher impact projects for audiences that need it most, so if anyone knows of a cause which thinks would need help design wise, they can send us a message at collaborate@and-a-half.ph :)

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Interview: A Database of Philippine Children’s Literature (1 of 2)

I received a request from a student for an interview on children’s literature in the country and the need for a database that content creators, teachers, librarians and parents can use. Ms. Bella Abuel is an AB Arts Management student at the De La Salle College of St. Benilde. Here is part one.

  1. Why are you in this field? What led you to work with children’s picture books/children’s illustration?

As a school librarian, it is part of my job to know the history, trends and developments in children’s literature.

2. What is your experience working in this field?

As a school librarian, I am at the distribution, promotion, documentation and communication of children’s books and literature for children. I work with kids and teens, helping them in research, delivering readers advisory and reading guidance, assisting teachers in their use of varied learning materials for learners.

I was once president of a writing group for kids. I am a published children’s book author so I have worked with various illustrators and publishers. As past PBBY president and now, board member, I have been involved in projects that fill gaps in children’s literature in the country. These roles enable me to work with key people and groups of professionals in the children’s book industry in the country.

As an academic researcher, I have written articles, papers and research on children’s literature,  its distribution, study, critique and teaching.

3. Why do you think children’s picture books are important? (or developments for children’s literature?)  Do you think children’s picture books can help with children’s cognitive skills, emotional literacy, etc.?

Please visit this link to read essays  of writers, illustrators, teachers and librarians, literacy advocates of picture books:  https://picturebookmonth.com/

4. Do you know anything about the history of children’s picture books in the Philippines?

Good references on the history of PH Kids Lit are, Bumasa at Lumaya: A Spurce Book of PH Kids Lit Vols. 1 and 2, published by Anvil Publishing. And, the new CCP Encyclopedia has a good chapter on PH Kids Lit written by Mailin Paterno and Neni Sta. Romana Cruz. Virgilio Almario also written a critique of PH Kids Lit trends and production in 2009, published by Anvil.

Go find these books as the history and documentation of PH Kids Lit have been written already and continuously being updated.

5. Are you aware of any physical or online database related to children’s picture books/children literature?

There used to be the International Children’s Literature Database, but it has ceased. 

The Philippines needs a database on Children’s Literature and the reasons for it are plenty. Many will benefit from it, not just the content creators.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Children's Book Summit: Prospects and Directions in Philippine Children's Literature (2 of 4)

Ang Top Ten Bonggang Ganap sa PH Kids Lit (2009 to present)

Prospects and Directions in Philippine Children’s Literature
Zarah C. Gagatiga, Teacher Librarian and Board Member PBBY
Children’s Book Summit 2019

To dream and to remember

So while we are here this afternoon, prospecting for mineral deposits in the Children’s Book industry, mapping places where potential customers or clients are still yet to be found, looking at possible investments where we can grow not just our products, but to develop platforms where the talents and skills of people are enhanced and strengthened too, it is good to keep in mind the purpose of creating, developing and distributing books for children.

Children’s literature is a genre by its audience, and its categories read very much like the categories of adult literature (Paterno, 2018) except for the picture book and the young adult (YA) novel. This is what makes it unique and special. National hero Jose Rizal wrote and translated folk stories for the purpose of sharing them to his nieces and nephews. These stories were his gifts to the young people in his family. First, he made the journals by hand. Then he wrote on them the stories, perhaps The Monkey and the Turtle, The Ugly Duckling and William Tell. These journals, that became books, were wrapped and sent to the Philippines from Europe. I can only imagine the reaction of Rizal’s nephews and nieces upon receipt of the packages. If I were to put myself in their place, I definitely will feel valued and loved.

What can we glean from this story? Rizal the writer wrote for himself. Rizal the writer intended to leave a legacy. Rizal hoped that with stories and books as gifts, young people will continue the act of creation. By coding, writing and illustrating, since Rizal drew as well, the stories have found a place where it can be kept for remembrance and for continuity. From this experience of Rizal, we can also see the process of creating a book and its distribution in its simplest form. I believe that this model and the principles behind it remain the same centuries later. However, what changes the game for content creators, distributors and consumers of books, information and literature are the advancements in technology. We create the technology and in turn, it shapes our thinking and changes our ways of knowing ourselves and the world. Information and communications technology has greatly opened up windows of opportunities for the avid reader, creators and distributors of children’s books.

Long ago, a book, once published will have shelf space in a bookstore or in a library. Today, that book has an electronic counterpart. There is a YouTube channel or a social media account by the author or the publisher where he or she could post additional content in another media format.   Young readers and their parents are exposed to a variety of learning materials. The different agencies where they can access them by mobile technology are a plenty. Accessibility to books, information and literature is made easier with the internet. Teaching and learning new literacy skills, as well as life skills, is needed more than ever. However, there are places where technological infrastructure is otherwise dependable. Besides, there are stories from the provinces and in the regions that we need to hear and know more about when we speak and discuss book development and literature for children. It is inevitable to reflect, take stock, make calculated risks, set priorities, examine criteria or the measurement of quality of our children’s books and challenge traditional publishing models and practices.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Library Creatives Workshop 2019: Creativity, Innovation, Reading and Bibliotherapy

My friend Erick Ramos has been working so hard on social media, promoting my workshop. To ease him up a bit, I sent him this description of the workshop.

For Friday, July 19, we will have a discussion on CREATIVITY and what informs INNOVATION. A workshop on tapping into one’s creative self will follow. There will be sharing of best practices on library innovations and presentation of models and samples. 

We will then move into understanding what Reading is and why it is akin to THINKING; how cognition and emotion factor in reading; and using this understanding in designing library readers services and programs for kids, teens and grown ups. 

And yes, we will have a bibliography session for librarians! 

I am excited to see you all!

Children's Book Summit: Prospects and Directions in Philippine Children's Literature (1 of 4)

Ang Top Ten Bonggang Ganap sa PH Kids Lit (2009 to present)

Prospects and Directions in Philippine Children’s Literature
Zarah C. Gagatiga, Teacher Librarian and Board Member PBBY
Children’s Book Summit 2019

Anong Ganap? Ang Bonnga!

For my talk this afternoon, I listed down ten bonggang ganap in Philippine children’s literature from 2009 to present. By children’s literature I included distribution of children’s books, readership and documentation in my presentation. I used the slang words Bongga and Ganap because I like using them. Bongga came about in the late 70s and the early 80s which means fancy, stylish, outlandish (in a good way) and extravagant. Ganap on the other hand is a recent invention coming around in 2017 pertaining to a happening, an occurrence that is truly eventful or a role and a performance of great relevance. There have been movements and developments in Philippine Children’s Literature in the past decade that are indeed relevant and fanciful, in a good way.

I based my selection of these top ten amazing, notable and worthy of reckoning events and developments in Philippine Children’s Literature from 2009 to present on my participation in projects organized by the PBBY with its partners; my professional practice as librarian; and by reading research and news, articles and essays on the state and status of children’s literature in the country. It is my hope that from this list, I could discuss implications, present facts, share inspiring stories and identify prospects and directions of the book industry, especially, children’s books.

Back in July 2016, I attended a summer workshop on Book History. It was organized by the National Book Development Board (NBDB) in partnership with the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP).  It was facilitated by Ramon Sunico, teacher, poet and wide eyed wanderer. The participants of the workshop were mainly content creators, book distributors and book lovers. Mr. Sunico set the tone of the workshop by laying down the very reason why we create books. We make them because we want to dream and we want to remember.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Freedom is Access to Information

The Freedom of Information Project Management Office (FOI PMO) conducted the first training and workshop session on the use of the Freedom of Information web portal. The workshop was attended by librarians from different sectors of private and public institutions and agencies. The FOI PMO organized the workshop in coordination with the Philippine Librarians Association Inc. thus, the big four library associations were present during the workshop last July 9, 2019 at the University of Santo Tomas (UST).

The Freedom of Information (FOI) web portal is now up and running. This means, every Filipino citizen who has an access to the internet can request for government publications, public documents and information for free. Requests can be done manually and electronically. There is a List of Exceptions to what can be requested and accessed and protocols for the requisition are in place.

Here is the URL - www.foi.gov.ph

There are pages and links to explore and read. Begin by setting up an account. A government ID is required when signing up. Go to the RESOURCES page of the FOI Program and scan the list of free downloads that discuss basic and general information about the FOI Executive Order and the FOI Program. Choose and read the FOI Briefer before making any request for documents. 

Because I was a participant in the workshop I am now an FOI Ambassador. I created an account already and my first stop was to download the briefer which I find useful for my learning community. 

PASLI Represents school librarians in the FOI Workshop for Librarians 

Monday, July 8, 2019

Library as Culture: A genuine love for books and reading

There are wonderful conversations about books that has been going on in my social media neighborhood, especially in Facebook. One on-going conversation is happening over at a "secret" online book club whose members are mostly Titas of Manila who love to read. A friend invited me to join and, as I am always in search for good books, nice people and bookish events, I gave in. 

Here is the question that got me engaged. It is a recurring question in all book clubs I joined in.

What was the first book that ever made an impression on you?

My mother is a librarian. She borrowed books for me in the library where she worked back when I was young. She brought home Dr. Seuss; The Little Red Hen; dinosaur books and non-fiction books; graphic novels and YA. She did this until I was in high school but I knew and felt, I had to buy my own books and build my own library. I went to a small town Catholic school where the library’s stock of books is limited. So I learned to save up for books I want to buy for my own reading. Hello Book Sale! I basked in the freedom of deciding for my own reading pleasure. It was only later in life when I realized how important choice is in learning how to read. 

While I appreciate growing up with books, I give props to my lola who ran a sari-sari store. It was there where I discovered komiks! Aliwan. Funny Komiks. Wakasan. Filipino Komiks. And all the series of Pinoy horror and romance. She rented these komiks out to readers. I read them for free! Somewhere among those komiks, I read Gerry Alanguilan. Yep. Go ahead. You can carbon date me now. 😂

If I got asked this question a few years back, ten or fifteen years ago, I would have given a different answer. But now, I think, it is the people in my family who introduced me to books I am grateful for. That’s how I want to be, moving forward. I will continue bringing books and readers, and readers to books closer to each other. Naks!

Speaking of reading origins, here are links to previous blog posts. 

What about you? What was the first book that ever made an impression on you? What is your reading history? 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Biñanense News: Updates on the Biñan Public Library

A couple of years ago, I visited the Biñan Public Library and Museum. Click the link and read up on how it was and what it was back in 2015. Four years after, the library and museum has become an art, culture and tourism center in Laguna as recognized by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Kudos to its librarian, Ms. Sheila Gilbuena Legaspi and Sir PJ Borja, Tourism Officer of Biñan for keeping the community involved in its growth and development. This goes to show that the local government unit of Biñan is in full support of the programs and activities of the library and museum.

In my meet up with Ms. Sheila, I learned that they have retained the Rogelio Limcaco museum and the trade and industry exhibit in its halls. As expected, of course. Seminars and workshops are programmed annually. One of the more successful yet is the Thesis Night where in senior high school and college students had the opportunity to consult experts in research writing. 

The Biñan Public Library is affiliated with the National Library of the Philippines. I have a library to visit in the coming days!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

One on One Reading Aloud and Storytelling Workshop

I had a wonderful time sharing stories and swapping teaching adventures with Yvette Solina Salish at Nook in Molito. Yvette is a teacher in Erbil, Iraq. She teaches Math in Primary Years Program of the International Baccalaureate in the school. Home for vacation, she thought of taking stock on her teaching pedagogy. 

Big thanks to her sister, Bernadettte Solina Wolf who connected us. Our four hour session stretched to six hours. Almost the entire day, really. And thanks to the peeps in Nook as they warmly accommodated us with a whole day pass for our first visit. That’s good customer service!

This is my favorite nook in Nook. If you know me well, you know why. 😉

As this was my first tutorial for a reading aloud and storytelling workshop, I didn’t know how it woluld work. It did end well! 

 Yvette and I will definitely meet again, get in touch online and keep the learning connections active. She found the materials I used as enlightening and the input session valuable addition to her skill set in teaching primary students. She hopes to be more confident in reading aloud and telling stories to her students. In the end our session, I gave her these tips, baon, as I call it to bring with her back to Erbil.

On Messenger she sent me this message afew hours after our session. 

“Thanks too for teaching and inspiring me to read aloud and do storytelling! I’m amazed by how well you do it. I hope I can reach up to your level of ease in the future! I can’t wait to try all of your techniques! Take care and keep in touch! 😊🤗😘”

My reply to her was this:

“Go! You will grow into it. Start by investing on good books for kids. Develop your own selection criteria. Read the books aloud to your family. Plan your pre, during and post reading activities. Practice. Evaluate yourself. Listen to your students too. You will learn from them too!”

I am having a productive summer! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Books. Technology. And, Design Thinking!

Since my summer began in early June, I have been to several round table discussions and meet-ups with friends in the education sector and in the book industry. Our topics of conversation range from reading, to books, the creation of information and knowledge, ways to communicate these resources to them and the behavior we apply as we consume them. I discovered and validated three things.

One, technology unceasingly advances in an unbridled manner. Information is continuously exploding. Flooding us in and out of our thinking process. We find ourselves swimming against the current. Well, except for the generation Z, who seem to adapt perfectly well in the ebb and flow of the tides of information. Then again, it seems that they could not go deeper into the heart of the ocean, where more nutritious information and amazing knowledge rest. The digital divide widens between generations, as well as the tech haves and have nots. You have the technology to fish, then you get them. Hook, line and sinker.

Already, there are talks of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. But, there I was talking to publisher friends at how diverse today's readers and users are and this diversity affect the choices of reading materials created and produced. Long ago, their model for book and knowledge distribution follows a linear path. Books go to bookstores, schools and libraries. With the web, wifi and the cloud, everything is out there like an eat-all-you can buffet.

That's number two. Librarians and publishers need to work together to offer reading materials that are programmed to help, assist, aid and inspire readers make informed choices. We also share the same sentiments in the creation and provision of access of books to our readers. A publisher friend is looking at strengthening their research and development unit to channel production and marketing to realistic gains. I am considering demand driven acquisition and one of the concerns I have is whether to subscribe to an ebook lending system. Like my publisher friend, I will turn to research to find answers.

So it never ends - thinking, and finding out solutions to problems. I need to go back and review the Design Thinking principles I learned from my Head of School back in 2014. Because, in Design Thinking, compassion, creativity and critical thinking all come into play when finding out solutions to problems.
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