Room to Read Shares Strategy on Writing High Quality Children Storybooks with ‘Show, Don’t Tell’

"Authors should think that it is not just them who are telling the story," she said. "They share the portion with the illustrator." Sofie shared tips on how to avoid 'telling' in story writing, including activating readers' sensory experiences and avoiding too many adjectives and adverbs.

Room to Read and ProVisi organized an online training session on writing children’s storybooks with the theme of “Writing Children Storybooks 101: Show, Don’t Tell” on Monday, October 26th. The training invited Alfredo Santos, QRM Manager of Book Publishing Southeast Asia, Room to Read, and Sofie Dewayani, a writer and editor at Yayasan Litara, as speakers. They shared the meaning and importance of the concept of ‘show, don’t tell’ in writing quality children’s books.

Sofie Dewayani explained that showing, not telling, is related to the ability to describe, which is an important skill in the 21st century. The use of rich vocabulary, both in spoken language, written language, and visual language, determines children’s practical communication skills.

“Authors should think that it is not just them who are telling the story,” she said. “They share the portion with the illustrator.” Sofie shared tips on how to avoid ‘telling’ in story writing, including activating readers’ sensory experiences and avoiding too many adjectives and adverbs.

Alfredo Santos, who presented the material “Show Don’t Tell: Creating Engaging Action in Narrative Structure,” encouraged children’s book creators to create stories that could make readers explore, discover, or learn the story’s message themselves.

“Avoid using long dialogues that make the story ‘over-explaining’,” he said. “Narrative stories can involve readers more, and readers can learn and understand the meaning of the story more deeply.”

The online training was held with the support of the Directorate of Elementary Schools, Ministry of Education and Culture, using Webex Director of SD. Nearly 600 participants, consisting of children’s book writers and illustrators, teachers, school principals, librarians, and literacy activists, registered and actively participated in discussions with the speakers.

Chatarina Trihastuti, Project Manager at Room to Read, ProVisi Education, said that this online training is one of Room to Read and ProVisi Education’s initiatives to support children’s book creators in developing children’s storybooks for Indonesian children. With the support of Google.org, Room to Read has developed the digital platform literacycloud.org, which provides 220 picture storybooks created by writers and illustrators with the support of publishing partners from Indonesia. On literacycloud.org, children’s book creators can also find learning videos that can support them in developing quality children’s books.

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