GUEST POST: What I Learned at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, by Tarie Sabido

Let’s begin with an exercise, shall we?

1. Name three Asian authors of children’s books.
2. Name three Asian illustrators of children’s books.
3. Name folk heroes or folk stories from three different Asian countries.
4. Name three African authors of children’s books.
5. Name three African illustrators of children’s books.
6. Name folk heroes or folk stories from three different African countries.
7. Name three Latin American authors of children’s books.
8. Name three Latin American illustrators of children’s books.
9. Name folk heroes or folk stories from three different Latin American countries.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. How did you do on the exercise? How would your child/grandchild/godchild/niece or nephew/student/library patron do on the exercise?

This exercise is an excerpt from “The Imperative for Multicultural Literacy,” a talk by bookseller Lynette Thomas at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC). The 2010 AFCC was the inaugural AFCC. Authors, illustrators, editors, publishers, booksellers, librarians, teachers, and other children’s book lovers from all over the world converged in Singapore from May 6 to 9 to celebrate children’s content for education and entertainment. They came from India, France, the Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, the U.K., the U.S., Hong Kong, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, and many more countries.

(I know that most readers of Multiculturalism Rocks! are from the U.S. You may be interested to know that the speakers from the U.S. were author Uma Krishnaswami, children’s technology reviewer Warren Buckleitner, media consultant Bill Rosenblatt, writer and editor Jeff Yang, playwright Jonathan Dorf, and education professor Susan Harris-Sharples.)

Sixty-two percent of the world’s population is in Asia, and there are one billion children in Asia. Asia is a gold mine for both Asian and Western children’s book industries! The AFCC was about Asian content for Asian children – and Asian content for the WORLD’s children. According to Claire Chiang, AFCC advisory board chair, “We [Asians] have had easy access to, and benefited from, a wide selection of educational and entertainment content from the West. In contrast, Asian materials, even those already available in the marketplace, are seldom translated and promoted, and therefore largely unexplored. This is a big loss for children worldwide, and an untapped industry with tremendous potential.”

Indeed, one of the most important things I learned at the AFCC is that it isn’t enough for children to be aware of how multicultural their own country is. They must be aware of our multicultural WORLD. And children shouldn’t just accept in their heads the multiculturalism in their country and world. They should also be truly comfortable with that multiculturalism in their hearts. We all know that one way to help children be comfortable with multiculturalism is through multicultural books. Furthermore, multicultural books respect and empower children in the different cultures featured!

The AFCC has given me more motivation and inspiration to seek out and promote multicultural children’s books. For shouldn’t we share and give children access to good books, whether they are from Europe, Asia, North America, or any other place in the world?

For pictures and more information on the AFCC, please check out the links below:

Day 1 of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content

Day 2 of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content

Day 3 of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content

Day 4 of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content

Women Writers of Color at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content

About today’s guest:
Tarie Sabido is an English teacher, a Filipino editor and a Cybil judge. She is staff at Color Online, a website dedicated to women writers of color. She is also a prolific blogger and book reviewer, and an advocate for Asian children’s literature in particular. If there is anything you ever needed to know about Asian authors and illustrators, if you wonder about children’s books in the Philippines and beyond, visiting her blogs is a great way to start:
oAsia in the Heart, World on the Mind
oInto the Wardrobe
o Follow Tarie on Twitter!