NIE colleagues participate in the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2019

NIE colleagues participate in the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2019

Friday, 18 October 2019

As part of NIE’s ongoing research-translation efforts, NIE researchers actively reach out to the community to bring their research findings and experiences to the ground in the hopes of narrowing the research-practice gap.  

The Book Illustrators Gallery at the Asian Festival of Children's Content 2019

One such outreach effort was at the recent Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) 2019, which was held at the National Library Building from 5 – 8 September 2019, where A/P Tan Chee Lay, A/P Seetha Lakshmi, Dr Sun He and Dr Sun Baoqi contributed in.

Bras Basah Literary Trail

A/P Tan shown here with a gift of his own calligraphic work that he had presented to bookstore owner, Mr Yang Shancai, some years ago. Mr Yang specially took it out in honour of A/P Tan.

A/P Tan Chee Lay, Deputy Head of NIE’s Asian Languages and Cultures (ALC) academic group, led AFCC participants on a trail of Bras Basah. With his passion and research interests in cultural literati, he introduced participants to the local book preservation and collection culture, bookstore culture, as well as shared sightings of writers like Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad at the nearby Raffles Hotel.

His contributions towards the local children’s literature scene includes his service as a member of the Singapore Book Council (SBC) Advisory Network and the National Library Board (NLB) Consultative Panel, alongside Dr Mohd Aidil Subhan B Modh Sulor, also from the ALC academic group.

Are Bilingual Books Effective

Discussing the efficacies of bilingual books, A/P Seetha Lakshmi, Assistant Head (Tamil) at ALC academic group, was part of a panel comprising Ms Rilla Melati (author of Malay bilingual books) and Mr Su Zhangkai (founder of Sprout Language Centre and former fellow of the Academy of Singapore Teachers).

A/P Seetha Lakshmi as panellist in a panel moderated by Ms Melissa Gay of the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism

The panel explained the different formats in which bilingual books were written. They advised against presenting both languages on the same page as there was a tendency for young readers to fall back on the English language, as it was observed to be their language of preference. 

The panellists also shared that segmented storytelling, where two language versions of the same story were told back to back, tended to work better as this reduced the readers’ reliance on the English language. Additionally, monolingual books with bilingual glossaries tended to be more effective as well.   

While the efficacies of bilingual books in promoting bilingualism was unclear, A/P Lakshmi recounted how in one of the ALC Academic Group’s Chinese-Malay-Tamil combined Multiculturalism projects, students of different cultures came together to read about Cinderella. Written and nuanced to individual cultures, the students then got together in groups to share their experience of the story with one another, forming a culturally rich and diverse learning experience.

This session was moderated by Ms Melissa Gay of the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism Programme Office. The fund supports proposals that advances bilingualism and the learning and using of Mother Tongue languages as everyday practices.

How Animated Ebooks Could Help Children Learn Their Mother Tongue Better: Evidence from an Eye-Tracking Study

In this session, Dr Sun He, who is a Research Scientist with the Centre for Research in Child Development, shared that animated eBooks tended to be better able to grasp children’s attention. Children who viewed animations with music and motion were likely to be more successful in retelling the complicated storylines and in producing novel words.

Dr Sun He sharing her research findings on the efficacies of eBooks

From her research, she also found that children with higher bilingualism literacy as starting points had the propensity to maintain their advantage over time in the static eBook condition. Nevertheless, children with lower proficiency in the animated eBook condition were able to catch up with their peers in terms of attention.  

Dr Sun concluded that while animated eBooks might have its benefits, there were concerns over the effects of these eBooks on children’s eyes and health. She advised that children between two to five  years of age be limited to one hour or less of screen-time per day.  

Animated eBooks were also unlikely to replace parents’ human touch and interaction with their children. Dr Sun ended the presentation by sharing useful parent-child interaction strategies while reading together:
1. Follow child’s gaze and attention trail
2. With a curious disposition, ask child questions around content that interests child
3. Encourage and praise child
4. Repeat utterances of child to demonstrate a deep listening presence
5. Repeat these strategies to establish a secure parent-child relationship    

To learn more about Dr Sun He’s perspectives on bilingualism, read:
Big on Bilingualism in the Early Years

How to Create a Conducive Chinese Reading Environment for Your Child

Dr Sun Baoqi addressing her audience of young parents and teachers

Dr Sun Baoqi with her collaborators from NLB, Associate Librarians Ms Chu Wan Xin and Ms Melissa Choo

In Dr Sun Baoqi’s workshop with NLB Associate Librarians Ms Chu Wan Xin and Ms Melissa Choo, Dr Sun who is a Research Scientist with the Centre for Research in Child Development, exposed the audience to different types of Chinese books that were suited for children of different age groups.

During the workshop, Dr Sun highlighted specific types of books that appealed to the characteristic traits and natural preferences of children from various age groups.

She also shared practical tips for teachers and parents on how books could be chosen to better relate to children.

Featured as the “Go-To Academician” on Chinese reading environments, Dr Sun is also a key collaborator with the NLB’s Chinese Library Services and conducts workshops at NLB for teachers and parents.

Access e-Book:

让宝宝爱上阅读:0至4岁启蒙阅读指南A Reading Guide for Emergent Readers – 0 to 4 years old written by Dr Sun in collaboration with NLB Associate Librarians Ms Chu Wan Xin and Ms Melissa Choo

Read more about Dr Sun’s work on Lianhe Zaobao:

Snapshots at AFCC 2019, 10 Years of Championing Children's Books

In its 10th run this year, the AFCC is a yearly get-together of like-minded people for the creation, development and appreciation of quality Asian content for children and young adults, organised by the SBC.

This year’s event attracted 4636 participants from Singapore and all over the world, whom are all key stakeholders in the generation of Asian children’s content.

Photo Credits: Singapore Book Council