Writers and Illustrators trained to create appropriate picture books for young readers
FORTY writers and illustrators were invited to a five-day orientation course on “Picture Books Creation for Young Readers,” in Siem Reap province last week.
Organised by Room to Read Cambodia (RtR KH), is a branch of international non-profit organization, US-headquartered Room to Read whose philosophy is based on “World Change Starts with Educated Children.”
“This ‘Picture Books Creation for Young Readers’ is an annual program by Room to Read. It aims to increase human resources of local book creators; to produce 20 titles of children’s stories in 2020; and to share knowledge/updates (orientation) with the story book creators in Cambodia,” said Senior Literacy Program Officer, Soeurm Kakada.
The young readers targeted by Room to Read are those in primary schools, referring to children studying from Grade 1 to Grade 6. In order to get participation from the public, the organisation called on children book enthusiasts to submit their story scripts every year.
This year, Room to Read Cambodia received more than 70 story titles from all applicants, according to Mr Kakada, before it was whittled down to only 19 applicants as writers chosen.
He added “The participants who joined us in the training last week were delighted to learn more about how to create children’s appropriate books as they have learnt a lot on how to create characters and narrative devices that will attract children to read. They called it a special marketplace to meet up with senior and junior writers and illustrators from different parts of the country.”
Seven representatives from local publishing houses, NGO, Khmer Writers Association, and the publishing house of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport (MoEYS) also attended the workshop.
Mr Kakada said that the writers and illustrators are also open to job opportunities, to start a career with local publishing houses since they are dedicated to improve both the quantity and quality of children’s story books.
Prom Kunthearo, a freelance writer, who was selected for the training, saw it as a significant guide on writing stories for children in many attractive styles.
“I have learnt about the level of language that should be used to engage with children, particularly at primary level readership,” she said.
“To me, children’s books should have a wide range to cater to each child with different interests. Therefore, the book, like science, entertainment, education and adventure are all good for children to read,” she added.
A graphic design teacher, Hin Koemyean, said it is a good lesson to understand the writer’s concept before starting to draw artwork of caricatures or cartoon characters for a story-line. He is now all the wiser on choosing colour schemes and design concept of story books.
“I want to contribute to promote the reading culture to children through my talent as an artist, by creating attractive drawings along with the meaningful story,” Mr Koemyean said, adding that a cute and funny character can attract young readers to discover the whole story.
On the 20 children’s books chosen for print next year, once a story is chosen, Room to Read will contact the writers to discuss editorial and story-line adjustment together with Room to Read’s local and regional team. The story will then be submitted to the MoEYS for approval to use at every public primary schools. Every book title will be published in local language with around 1,000 copies each. In 2020, the books will be allocated to over 230 public schools at target provinces throughout the country.
The vision of Room to Read is to focus on literacy and gender equality in education, whereby it partners local communities, organizations and governments to develop literacy and instill a habit of reading among primary schoolchildren; and to equip girls with life skills to finish secondary school and beyond. Room to Read is committed to help nations like Cambodia to build or rebuild its education system from the ground up.