Thailand Knowledge Park (TK park) joined hands with the Thai-based International Board on Books for Young People (ThaiBBY), or the Books for Children Foundation, to host the 3rdAsia Oceania Regional IBBY Congress (AORIC) with representatives from 23 countries across the world exchanging their children book-related knowledge and new perspectives of reading in the digital age.
The digital age has greatly shaped reading lifestyle of people at all levels including children. Today, children books’ contents become easily accessible through screens of smart devices such as mobile phones, tablets and computers and tablets. How much importancereading is in this digital era? How far meaning of reading has changed? What are current trends of reading lifestyle among children? How strong their literacy skills are? How children books should look like in the digital age? And how kids can benefit most from books? In order to reach those answers, TK park and ThaiBBY jointly held the 3rd AORIC during May 9-12, 2017, at Arnoma Grand Hotel Bangkok and TK park on the 8th floor of CentralWorld shopping mall. The event was attended by academics, experts, columnists, illustrators, librarians and publishersin a children book-related field from the 23 countries totrade theiropinions and experiences, who share a common goal in constant development of children books.The event also offered an opportunity to learn about adaptation of children books to different social contexts of each country. Besides, the forumalso aims to encourage reading culture in daily life under a theme, Read = Life: Reading in the Digital Age.
Speaking of the 3rd AORIC, TK park director Rames Promyen said the main theme of the event was to introduce a mindset of “reading equals life” as reading was an integral part of growing up for most people.Today’s world was the era of technology in which people can access reading materials through many different approaches. This concept was as well similar to the digital world which created newexperience of reading and living. The event also proposed various issues relating to changing world of reading among children including learning, narration and studying through their books in different cultures, particularly new lifestyle and digital media which have played a pivotal role inchildren’s time.Therefore, “Learning new media form” was also significant for young people. It was our duty to keep a balance betweendigital and printed materials featuring contents for children in a bid to raise awareness of importance of reading among young generations.
ThaiBBY president Khunying Kasama Varavarn Na Ayutthaya said Thailand has focused on producing e-books and various patterns of digital applications over the past decade. Therefore, qualities of reading materials and patterns have been developed to meet particular reading demand of children today.Libraries and bookstores also served as learning centres where they can integrate “reading” with other forms of “learning”. This can help advance their language ability and brain capacity effectively. Nevertheless, Khunying Kasama also expressed her concern over parenting behaviors which overused digital gadgets in raising their kids. Therefore, ThaiBBY has also rolled out new measures to cope with negative effects of digital media on children. Those measures included working with related agencies to launch campaigns to raise awareness of the issue among the public via social media, workshops for teachers and parents based on academic research and useful assessment involving benefits of reading tochild development.
During the forum, many speakers from all over the world also exchanged their interesting knowledge, opinions and experiences about children books. Among them were Khunying Kasama who gave a talk on “Read = Life: Reading in the Digital Age”, IBBY president Wally De Doncker who remarked on “Direction of the IBBY in the Digital Age” and alsoGakken Plus Japan editor and general manager Takaaki Kuroda who talked about his view on “A New Face in Children Textbooks with Combination of New Technology”.
Other speakers also include SomboonSingkamanan, a children literature academic who won a prize from the IBBY earlier, with his topic on “Returning to Origin and Learning by A One Rice Grain Book” and Thomas Merrington, head of product development and brand manager of Peter Rabbit at Penguin Random House UK, who came up with a topic, “ReviveCharacters to Become Popular for Decade: A Case Study of Beatrix Potter’s the Tale of Peter Rabbit”.
Besides, the event also featured several constructive workshops such as “Storytelling in the Digital Age” supervised by director Keiko Harikae and librarian Emiko Goeku from Children’s Library in Tokyo, Japan, “Learning How to Make Fabric Books” hosted by Mokomoko Group, a Japanese company renowned for its production of illustrated cloth books since 1979. More than 260 prototypes of cloth books were also put on display during the workshop which aimed to pass on the process of making illustrated fabric books which are readable for children and those with disabilities.
Other workshops also include “Mind Based Learning (MBL): Learning by Mind to Create Wisdom and Enhance Human Resource”, overseen by Dissakorn Kunthorn, representative from the Wisdom Playground Foundation, “Techniques to Cultivate Reading Habit in Children” led by an Argentine teacher and storytellerspecialising in children literature, “Marvel of Kamishibai” directed by the International Kamishibai Association of Japan (IKAJA), a Japanese agency promoting Kamishibai, the art of paper theatre which narrates stories through the alternation of paper scenes featuring drawings on them.
Aside from the workshops, the latest AORIC also featured highlight exhibitions:“The Century of Children’s Books in Thailand” based on a thesis by Krirk Yunpan, professor from a children’s literature programme at Srinakharinwirot University; and “Local Knowledge Book Series”, TK park’s illustrated children books presenting Thai local different culture, varying according to the regions across the country. The exhibitions were available during May 12-14, 2017, at TK park on the 8th floor of CentralWorld shopping mall.