This is part 2 of a detailed write up of the Little Lit landscape in Singapore which I briefly shared at Asian Festival Children’s Content 2014. You can read Part 1 here.
(B) Benefits of a Growing Children’s Literature Scene
(i) Growing Local Readership and Fan baseWe have come a long way. Today, many local books have found their ways into the hands of many young local readers. Not only can local readers relate to the characters and stories set in familiar local contexts, they also support their favourite local authors by voting for them in contests such as Popular’s Readers’ Choice Awards and the Red Dot Book Awards. This marks a stamp of approval and recognition for our authors.
(ii) Growing Influence Locally and Regionally
The books of our “pioneers” such as David Seow and Shamini Flint, multiple-international award-winner Emily Lim and best-selling author Adeline Foo have caught the attention of literary agents and foreign publishers in Australia, China, Korea, India, Indonesia and Malaysia and so on. More authors have been invited to speak at overseas literary festivals and some have won regional writing competition.
(iii) Growing Value & Appreciation of Children’s Books
Increasingly, organisations see the power of the written word and the value of picture books. Some organisations have adopted a more attractive approach to reach out to the young by commissioning local authors to spin a tale, interwoven with some of their corporate messages.
Just last year, National Parks Board celebrated their 50th anniversary with the launch of a middle grade book Secrets of the Swamp by Neil Humphrey. Ministry of Social and Family Development commissioned Emily Lim to write four picture books [The Best Recipe for Tofu; I Want to be a Cheese Taster etc] about the rights of the child. The Housing Development Board commissioned Ho Lee Ling to write a story, “Maddie Makes Friends” for all preschoolers and primary school students.
The print edition of the commissioned books is usually distributed to schools, making their content readily available to students. Sometime a digital version of these books is downloadable. This move cultivates the public’s appreciation in children’s books.
Indeed, the Singaporean children’s literature scene has grown by leaps and bounds. With such growth in 2013, who knows what good news the future will bring?