Conferences and Events Features Reading Themes

Short talk for Singapore’s Society for Reading and Literacy’s 25th Year Anniversary

When Serene Wee, President of SRL (Society for Reading and Literacy) invited me to be the Guest Speaker for their 25th year anniversary to be held at the National Library, I immediately said yes. I remember her telling me about this non-governmental-organization that is held together primarily by their common love and passion for the written word. And it was truly a privilege (and such a joy) to be speaking in front of a group of like-minded individuals.

The gathering was held at the 16th floor (called the HUB) of the National Library (NLB).

Amazing photo taken by my husband from the 16th Floor of the NLB

Given the fact that this month is F1 season in Singapore, we can hear the exciting vrooooms of the racing cars as they whiz past each other from up above where we have nearly a 360-view of nearly the entire city.

my 8 year old daughter (with moi as an addendum right behind)
I love this shot as wellthe rooftops and the cars all look like little toys from above

So yes, we saw some of the drag racers as you can glean from some of the photos that my husband took.

Apparently, these are the drag racers, you can see the cars from here..
The cars seem to be more evident in this shot

But of course, it did not distract us from the real purpose of the evening’s festivities – which is to celebrate the very long lifespan (25 years is a great deal!) of this wonderful society.

I also found out during the brief presentation given by one of the members of SRL that they have several Interest Groups to their name. They have WISH or Women for English Literacy program intended as an adult literacy programme that provides service to women in Singapore. They also have Wordwrights which caters to writers of children’s books – whether you are a newbie or a long-time published book author. The Storytellers circle meet at least once a month to share stories and resources with the general goal of reviving the art of storytelling in Singapore. Please click here to know more about The Society for Reading and Literacy. From last night’s meeting, I sensed that this was a heart-felt endeavour that reaches out to the hearts of the young and old alike to promote reading and literacy – a programme that is more than worthy of anyone’s time, attention, and resources.

We were also graced by the presence of Dr N. Varaprasad, Chief Executive Officer (who is now retired) of the National Library Board who gave a very brief but inspirational message to the Society.

Here are some of the photos taken by my husband during his talk:

Dr Varaprasad and his captive audience
lovely black and white photowith the SRL logogift-giving

After a welcome address by Serene, current President of the Society and a presentation of the highlights of yesteryears, we had dinner, a toast, then my talk which was entitled: Choosing Books that Challenge – My Personal Journeys as a Reader.

As I told the group of around 30 or so people during the first part of my talk, I never experienced such pleasure in creating a set of powerpoint slides for an official/unofficial gathering. I essentially recollected books I’ve read as a toddler, as a tweener, and heaven-forbid the book skeletons in my closet when I was a teenager – then moving on to my university years and young adult stage – until finally I became a mother and the search for picture books that challenge began. Hahaha. So yes, it was truly a fun and animated 45-minute talk. My husband, as always, was with me thru-out the entire celebration, although he felt distinctly uncomfortable seeing that he was only one of the three or four men inside the room (and he was wondering aloud why there were only a few male attendees or members, for that matter – calling all renaissance men! You are most welcome to join the Society). As per usual, he documented the proceedings, and many thanks for these video clips and for standing in as the unofficial “photographer” during the festivities. They must have sensed you have a very good eye. Haha. My 8 year old daughter played a very crucial role as well. I brought along around 12 books to showcase as part of my “elements of what to look for in picture books” in my talk. They were meant to be illustrative of certain points that I was raising throughout the discussion and she was responsible for holding the books up and showing them to rest of the audience. I brought Graeme Base’s Eleventh Hour; Neil Gaiman and Dave Mc Kean’s Wolves in the Walls; Jon Sciezka and Lane Smith’s Stinky Cheese Man and Squids will be Squids; Shaun Tan’s The Arrival – among others.

Video snippets of my talk will be forthcoming (something wrong with youtube).

After my talk, there was animated story telling by two lovely individuals whose names I missed out on all the flower-and-gift giving and packing away of equipment. But my daughter and I were riveted. It was truly food for the soul.

The first story teller – the cadence and the rhythm of her voice demonstrate how a storyteller weaves magic through words.

The second story teller even included lovely music interwoven as part of the entire storyline. Very beautiful.

Cheers to 25 more years, SRL and to even more SIGs (special interest groups) in the future! It was truly an honor and a pleasure to have shared your celebration last night with all of you.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

9 comments on “Short talk for Singapore’s Society for Reading and Literacy’s 25th Year Anniversary

  1. Mary of GatheringBooks

    Can’t wait for the video! When you sent the slides it made me think of my own reading history (along with the skeletons) and it made me want to draw my own time line. I shall do that soon. I think its interesting to discover how we’ve grown as readers. 😀
    I love hearing story tellers. One of my favorite segments in batibot was the story telling. It’s an art.


    • myragarcesbacsal

      I couldn’t agree more (about storytelling being an art). Still trying to upload the video at this point. Hopefully, youtube would be more cooperative this time around. And yes, I think a reader’s timeline is essential for anyone. Makes me think of possible classroom activities now in my masters’ courses, this should be a fun and exciting and very revealing activity. =)


  2. Bravo! So proud of you and GB. Barely a year old and look how far GB has gone. I wish I was there. Seems like a really fun and interesting night. Snaps for the wonderful photos, too! 😀


    • myragarcesbacsal

      Thanks girlfriend. Tatay’s talented dut way I suppose. Haha. =) Cheers to more talks in the future! =)


  3. Hi! This is such a lovely event. Too bad I’m here in the Philippines and can’t join the society. There are some similar groups here, but I think the presentations in the seminars and conferences revolve more around the teaching of reading. I’d love to listen to more presentations or talks from readers who just talk about their love for reading and books.:)


    • myragarcesbacsal

      Hello! So great to hear from you. I truly had fun preparing for this event. And yes, just talking about one’s passion for books and reading is enough motivation to attend any gathering. I noted your recent post about Filipino book bloggers, that is sooo great. I have several ideas up my sleeve as well. Do count us in even if we are technically coming from three different areas (Singapore, Philippines and San Diego).


  4. Myra – I’m looking forward to seeing the video too! Sounds like it was a wonderful event and my husband, who is a F1 aficionado, is quite jealous that you get to live in a spot where a F1 race takes place!


    • myragarcesbacsal

      Hello Corinne! Yes, you’re right, it truly was an evening to remember. So nice being in a room filled with people who have the same interests that you do.

      Strangely enough, we have not seen any F1 race as yet – and yes it’s the only place where the night races are being done, so very exhilarating I suppose. We are thinking of going next year though, and will post photos especially for you (and your hubby haha). Do come and visit sometime!! I am sure it’d be worth your while. =)


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