This is part of my “Little Lit Author’s First…” series. Today I continue with Part 2 of my interview with Ildasolha Jamari, the author cum illustrator of Singapore’s first children’s Board Books in Malay.
Ildasolha Jamari, a Math and Science school teacher,wrote, illustrated and self-published two Malay board books for children 3 years and below.
Linn Shekinah: Board books usually cover basic vocabulary or concepts such as numbers, alphabets, colours, shapes, sizes and family. One of your books focuses on an original concept – patterns. Any reason why you chose this concept? How longdid you take to conceptualise and write two of your board books? Did you consult anyone?
Ildasolha: I chose to focus on patterns because…
- Pattern recognition is a concept that children should be exposed to at an early age because it is essential in Mathematics.
- Patterns are all around us – Dots, stripes and so on. Teaching them the names of patterns will enrich their vocabulary.
I took about 1 month to write and illustrate. I showed my script to a friend who is a Malay language teacher to get her opinion. I also showed my drafts to my sisters, who are also parents of young children to get their feedback. I’m not sure how many times I rewrote, but I remember adjusting the artwork many times. The good thing about digital illustration is that that you can easily amend the illustration digitally as many times as you like. However, I will be using painting in my next book, so it may take a slightly longer time.
Linn Shekinah: What are the joys and challenges encountered in self-publishing as well as distributing and promoting the books by yourself?
Ildasolha: Well firstly, we need to raise awareness in the Malay community on the importance of young children’s exposure to Malay books to help them acquire the language. As we all are aware, nowadays, children in Singapore speak mainly English at home. Therefore we need to encourage parents to also immerse their children in Malay language so that they are proficient in both. Bilingualism has a lot of benefits on children’s brain development so we cannot see our native language as less important than English. In addition, we don’t want to lose our Malay language in generations to come as language is part of our heritage and in a way, it defines our roots and our identity.
Linn Shekinah: What are your future writing plans? Do you plan to write venture into books for older children?
Ildasolha: First, I will continue to improve the quality of my books. In the next few years, I will concentrate on board books in Malay language and bilingual board books. I’m looking into working with overseas publishers/distributors to help distribute the content of the books in other countries. In future, God-willing, I hope to publish Malay picture books with other authors and illustrators to enrich our children with high quality books and wonderful stories.
More about Ildasolha’s Concept Board Books at http://www.facebook.com/babyncapbooks