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By The Book: Asian Festival of Children’s Content to tackle challenges faced by publishing industry in its first digital edition

Screenshot 2020-07-02 at 11.43.09 PM

The annual Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) will tackle the challenges as well as opportunities the publishing industry currently faces in a fully digital format. Over two days from 3rd to 4th October, more than 40 featured writers, publishers and speakers from Singapore and around the world will gather to discuss how the children’s books industry is responding and adapting to the global pandemic.

Exploring the theme “Voyages”, AFCC will examine pressing topics such as the import of children’s books during a time of crisis; how to build resilience in children through books; the effects of digitalisation on book fairs and festivals; and how to build virtual communities. The festival will also take a close look at the impact of two popular genres – poetry and comics – and how schools can make them part of students’ essential reading.

Featured speakers include Dr Junko Yokota, head juror of the Hans Christian Andersen Award; award-winning poets Naomi Shihab Nye (Young People’s Poet Laureate 2019-2021) and Mariko Nagai (two-time Pushcart Prize winner); Minh Lê, US writer and graphic novelist of Green Lantern: Legacy; Tohby Riddle, multi-awarded Australian picture book creator; and popular Chinese/Canadian author and illustrator Trevor Lai. The festival also features key figures in the media content and literary industry such as Dexter Ong, Head of Wattpad Studios (Asia); and Peter Florence, Director and Founder of the Hay Festival.

Featured sessions include Opening Session: Children’s Books in the Time of Crisis and Change, where Junko Yokota and Bijal Vachharajan speak about how children’s book writers, illustrators, publishers responded to what is happening in these times of crisis, and how literature helps children navigate these situations. Other sessions include panels and workshops on how to effectively utilise poetry and graphic novels in schools and for self-expression, the new normal of digital book fairs, and the dos and don’ts of creating a virtual community.

AFCC will also hold two masterclasses held on 2 October. They include “Understanding the Editorial Process” by Joanna Cárdenas, a senior editor at Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers. Her interactive masterclass will provide participants with the opportunity to fine-tune their novels and picture books. The other is a partnership with the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) on the “Page to Screen Adaptation” masterclass for participants who are interested in adapting their stories for different mediums. The speakers include Peter Herbert and Dr Pieter Aquilia from AFTRS and film producer Lisa Hoppe.

In addition, the public can attend a number of events for free at AFCC with registration, including book launches and the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award (HABA) ceremony, which closes the festival on 4th October at 6pm. The festival will also present 14 new titles across nine virtual book launch events on 26th and 27th of September from 11.30am to 5pm and from 1pm to 6.30pm respectively. In commemoration of its partnership with its former Countries of Focus, AFCC will launch Our Folktales: The All-time Favourite Folktales of Asia, a regional collaborative anthology that features illustrated folktales from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and Singapore, with the book launch streamed live on AFCC’s Facebook on 3rd October 6.30pm.

AFCC 2020 takes place from 3rd to 4th October entirely online. Visit the AFCC website to find out more. 

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