Asia Foundation Nurtures Children’s Storybook Creatives in Cambodia, One Editor at a Time

Phnom Penh, September 4, 2018 — The Asia Foundation gathered current and aspiring children’s book editors together on September 1-2 to sharpen their editing abilities to guide Cambodia’s growing pool of writers and illustrators in producing high quality children’s books. The workshop, which took place at The Asia Foundation’s TEK4Good space, was part of the Foundation’s Let’s Read! initiative which nurtures the talent of creatives across Asia to publish enjoyable, relatable stories on the Let’s Read! digital library. Children, families, and educators can access Asia’s free digital library in local languages for free at and via the Let’s Read! Android app on Google Play.

During the workshop, editors dissected elements of a good story; for example: why do children love a book so much that they want to read it again and again? Successful children’s books tend to include memorable characters with distinctive personalities, relatable settings and themes, imaginative elements that appeal to a child’s sense of wonder, and much more. But what specific advice can editors give their creative colleagues to overcome problems like ill-defined characters, plots that are too complicated for young readers, or illustrations that lack variety or emotion? Guided exercises and practice with real manuscripts helped participants hone their editing and coaching skills during the two-day practicum.

Photo Credit: Kyle Barker

“Editors act as a bridge between the writers and the readers,” workshop presenter Quynh Le explained. “Having knowledgeable editors who are able to coach aspiring writers is key in making sure their original ideas shine through in the finished story.”

Support for the training was generously provided by YBM, one of Korea’s largest publishing and education companies. YBM supports The Asia Foundation’s goal to help kids across Asia develop the habit of reading (essential to improved education and employment opportunities), starting by addressing the scarcity of reading books in their own language. Over the years, YBM and Chairman Min Sunshik have supported notable projects with The Asia Foundation in Korea, including sponsoring Korean journalists for the prestigious Harvard Nieman Fellowship.

Other elements of Let’s Read! include book creation and professional development workshops with book creators and translators across Asia; marketing the free library directly to families and readers; and collaborating with organizations and educators to make sure Let’s Read! meets their reading promotion needs.

Five of the participants in last weekend’s professional development workshop will participate as editors guiding local writers and illustrators in the next Khmer children’s book creation event sponsored by The Asia Foundation on Sept 22 and 23 at TEK4Good.

Photo Credit: Kyle Barker

“After this workshop, I have a new perspective for my own writing and how to help other writers create strong characters and stories,” said Nguon Sivngim, who will be an editor for the upcoming event. “I’m really happy with this experience and I hope that I can help the next generation of writers at the upcoming book creation event.”

The Let’s Read! initiative draws on The Asia Foundation’s in-country capabilities, local partnerships, and technological expertise to empower communities to create, translate, and share high-quality, richly illustrated children’s books across Asia. Since 1954, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program has donated print books to thousands of under-resourced educational institutions in 21 Asian countries. While print remains an effective means of delivering information in many parts of the developing world, e-books are quickly becoming a cost-effective, scalable model due to mobile technology’s increasing affordability.

Read more information about Let’s Read!.

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Related locations: Cambodia
Related programs: Books for Asia
Related topics: Let's Read

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