Mum Reads: Scholastic’s The Path to Possibilities: How Stories Can Reach A Global Audience

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It was a weekend well-spent with like-minded people who share my passion for reading and Harry Potter at the National Bookstore’s Philippine Readers and Writers Festival 2017. It was even better that I tagged my budding little reader and siblings along. The event was a 3-day affair with each day filled with meaningful talks about writing and reading, meet and greet opportunities with famed authors, as well as a chance to purchase books at a discount. I was able to participate in Scholastic’s The Path to Possibilities: How Stories Can Reach A Global Audience.

The key topics discussed during the event include:

  • How Harry Potter started as a children’s book and ended as a book for all ages
  • The maturity of Rowling’s writing through the years and how her characters matured with the readers
  • The reading trend in the Philippines
  • The type of books that children and young adults read
  • How can writers tell stories that will be appealing to a global audience and children
  • How important it is for a writer to include local content and Asian elements into a story and how does it impact our children’s identities

J.K. Rowling is and always will be the epitome of impeccable writing skills and her creation, Harry Potter, lives on to be one of the most beloved children’s book character the world over, enjoyed and appreciated both by adults and young readers alike. The way Rowling made her hero ordinary and take on and do extra-ordinary things are what probably captures the readers’ hearts, but more importantly the excitement of how Harry and his friends grew along with the readers is what captivated the readers for years. The first book of the series, Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, but the world will probably never have enough of Harry Potter and his world long after his adventures at Hogwarts ended.

Exclusive Recorded Video By Barry Cunningham

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One of the highlights of the event was an exclusively recorded video from London by the publisher who discovered J.K. Rowling, Mr. Barry Cunningham. Mr. Cunningham, who worked with great names in children’s books, including Roald Dahl, and is the current publisher of Scholastic-owned Chicken House Books,  shared his thoughts on what makes a story universal.

Here are a few of his best writing tips recommendation for aspiring writers:

  • Focus on good versus evil and let goodness prevail
  • The villain must be highlighted
  • Put stock on dialogues and let the characters describe the story
  • Stock up on emotions
  • Action!
  • Love and friendship always makes a story interesting

You Write To Me, I’ll Write To You Manuscript Critique Initiative

Cunningham’s recording was also dedicated to the winners of the You Write To Me, I’ll Write To You manuscript critique initiative.  The You Write To Me, I’ll Write To You was an initiative of Scholastic and the Philippine Board on Books for Young People {PBBY}, and they invited writers in the Philippines to submit their manuscripts to be selected for a critique by Mr. Barry Cunningham. According to Ms. Joyce Bautista, Scholastic Philippines’ Trade Manager, writers were called to submit a short synopsis and the opening pages of their unpublished chapter book or novel for a chance to receive a review and written feedback by Mr. Cunningham. Not only did they receive an overwhelming number of submissions and requests about the initiative, but the talent projected by our very own Filipino writes were top-notch!

books, events, children, mum reads, reading, book fair, tips on writing, writing, writing tips
Winners of You Write To Me, I’ll Write To You initiative with Scholastic Asia Trade Manager, Ms. Joyce Bautista, and PBBY Board Member, Vic Villanueva, with the beloved characters from some of Scholastic’s bestselling titles ~ Clifford, Geronimo Stilton, and Thea Stilton

The 6 winners of this initiative were awarded with a signed note of acknowledgement from Mr. Cunningham and a token from Scholastic, for their outstanding manuscripts during the event. Amongst the winners are ~ Athena Marie Ngo Chan {Birds in Warm Dwellings}, Tanya Guerrero {Adrift}, Celestine Trinidad {Half Human}, Katrina I. Martin {At Home With Crazy}, Raymond G. Falgui {Katana Kat’s Origin Story}, and Joel Donato Jacob, the Grand Winner {The Wing of the Locust}.

You Write To Me, I’ll Write To You supports the Scholastic Asian Book Award {SABA}, in an effort to celebrate Asian content and to further encourage and inspire Asian writers. Local winners of the past Scholastic Asian Book Award also participated in the symposium through a live video call from the US and Germany. The authors both shared their writing journey and experiences along with invaluable writing advise.

Sophia N. Lee {What Things Mean}

Sophia grew wanted to be many things growing up ~ doctor, teacher, ballerina, ninja, crime-fighting international spy, wizard, time traveler, journalist, and lawyer. She likes to think she can be all these things through writing. She loves words and the meanings behind them. Her favorite word is chance. What Things Mean is her first book.

Sophia shared the following tips to aspiring young writers on how their stories can reach a global audience:

  • Create a character who tells your own story
  • Embrace your culture and your uniqueness
  • Create a voice and do not be afraid to make mistakes

Catherine Torres {Sula’s Voyage}

Catherine is a diplomat and writer from Manila. Her work has taken her to New Delhi, Singapore, and now, Berlin, where she live with her Korean scholar and translator husband, and son, Samuel. When her schedules permit, Catherine voyages around the world on boats made of words. Occasionally, as with Sula’s Voyage, she even builds the boat herself.

Here are Catherine’s tips to budding writers:

  • Do something that inspires you, may that be writing contests, attending writing classes, or reading books on writing
  • Find the time to write and create your own schedule
  • Instill the love of books at a young age, this can lead to a love of writing

Reading Landscape: What Readers Look For in a Good Story

One of the most insightful part of the talk is the one by Vic Villanueva. Teacher Vic spent 24 years doing literacy work in various roles. He was an Assistant Professor in the College of Education, University of the Philippines and is currently a Senior Educational Consultant of Grolier Scholastic Philippines, Reading Assessment Specialist, and Board Member of The Philippine Board on Books for Young People {PBBY}. He was also an avid Harry Potter reader and made the series the recommended books for his class during his days as a teacher.

Here are a few of Teacher Vic’s input about young readers in the Philippines today:

  • That children read outside of school
  • That children read stories
  • That children have preference
  • That children are aware of their preference
  • That they buy for themselves or the grown ups buy them books

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And here are some fun facts we learned from Teacher Vic:

  • It is a must that authors learn about children’s needs then write stories about them. Children needs, in order,  are ~ security, to love and be loved, to belong, to achieve, to change, to know, beauty and order
  • 91% of those who read non-schoolbooks do so to gain additional knowledge or information whilst 9% do so for enjoyment and amusement
  • 22% of Filipino adults read non-schoolbooks at-least weekly, whilst another 22% read non-schoolbooks only a few times a year

Teacher Vic also encouraged us as advocates, to get people to read for their humanity. He quipped that weird is better than normal when people find you weird when you read.

Mum’s Two Cents

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Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life. ~ Mortimer Adler

I am an advocate of reading and if I can leave a legacy to my little man, there is no doubt I would choose reading amongst the many things he could carry in his adult life. Attending an event like the Scholastic’s The Path to Possibilities: How Stories Can Reach A Global Audience at the Philippine Readers and Writers Festival 2017 gave me fresh insights about raising our children to be readers, and hopefully, better citizens of the country and of the world. I guess I am on the right track as I try to influence my little man to find joy in opening pages of a book and getting lost in the many adventures as he pore over these pages. 

It has also been my dream to be a writer, something I am able to do thanks to my blogs. I may not be a professional writer but the tips and tricks given by Scholastic’s author during the talk are very inspiring. It really is a must to write regularly and make a habit out of it. There is always something new to learn and we should never stop learning while we live.

For more information about Scholastic Asia’s events and promos, visit the Scholastic Website and do not forget to follow Scholastic Asia on Facebook.

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