Words Go Round is coming back around, and there’s something for everyone
Words Go Round (WGR) is coming back around for its 12th edition, and it is set to be bigger, longer, and more varied this time.
The school outreach event will run from 23 May to 29 July – expanding from a fortnight to a full 10 weeks’ worth of programmes – bringing a multilingual bonanza to students in Singapore’s schools.
This year, the National Arts Council is partnering with the Singapore Book Council (SBC) for the preschool and primary school programmes, while Sing Lit Station (SLS) will help curate and present programmes for those in secondary schools, junior colleges, and centralised institutes.
The A List spoke with the WGR organising team about their continued efforts in driving awareness and appreciation for literary heritage in Singapore’s young minds, and what we can look forward to at this year’s edition.
1. WGR is now into its 12th edition and has grown significantly over the years. What are some of the features that schools and young readers can expect this year that are different from past instalments?
With the easing of COVID-19 safe management measures, we’re excited to be able to offer a return to in-person WGR programmes held in schools as an option, alongside digital programmes. Our official WGR bookstore partner, Closetful of Books, is also now able to come down to schools to conduct physical book sales in addition to their dedicated WGR collection online.
We also have significantly more programmes available, with over 40 brand new programmes for school children of all ages developed across the various age groups. Our programme partners, SBC and SLS, have worked to ensure these programmes are linked to the school curriculum and provide opportunities for students to have cultural experiences.
2. What makes WGR an attractive event for schools and young minds?
It’s a great opportunity for students to meet writers and speakers, and be introduced to a diverse range of topics in the classroom, tapping into Singaporean and international literary works.
WGR programmes span the gamut of literary genres, including those that continue to gain traction with young people like graphic novels and spoken word. This year, we even have programmes that deal with podcast creation, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in creative writing, as well as socio-emotional well-being and wellness.
3. What are some highlights of this year’s WGR?
SBC is offering Friendship 1, 2, 3!, a session with Goh Eck Kheng and Mike Foo, the co-creators of Friends: A Counting Book, touching on the importance of respect, emotions, and diversity among children. Schools booking this programme will receive a complimentary A2 ‘Spot a Friend’ physical poster.
SBC is offering Sing A Song of Hawker Food: Can You Write A Rhyme That’s Good? where co-facilitators Lianne Ong and Janice Khoo will guide students in recreating nursery rhymes – with a local spin involving our beloved hawker food dishes! Imagine Humpty Dumpty enjoying kaya toast, Jack and Jill grilling satay on a hill, and Three Blind Mice eating chicken rice.
Secondary schools, junior colleges, and centralised institutes:
SLS has designed programmes in collaboration with the MOE Mother Tongue Languages Branch – Teen Fiction (with writer and former teacher Chen Shuai) / What’s the Fuss about Poetry? Discovering Poetry from Various Anthologies (with NIE lecturer Dr Kartini Anwar) / It’s a Draw: How to Bring Stories to Life through Comic Strips (with animation artist Jegannath Ramanujam). These programmes are conducted in the respective Mother Tongue languages, and we hope students find them to be novel and interesting approaches to appreciating their Mother Tongue languages even more.
SLS is also organising a discussion panel – One Destination, Many Paths – which will bring students behind the scenes of the publishing industry. Students will get to meet experienced industry professionals like Felicia Low-Jimenez, Chong Lingying, Eliza Teoh, Andy Ang, Mindy Pang, and Farihan Bahron.
4. Has there been a certain genre or style of programme that has proved to be particularly popular with schools, or has grown over the instalments?
We’ve clearly seen a growing interest in programmes that involve Singapore literature, such as SLS’s Everything You Need to Know about Singlit (with NTU’s Dr Cheryl Julia Lee). The preschool and primary school programmes by SBC have also consciously featured Singaporean writers and their books (e.g. Robin Leong’s Lessons from The Kung Fu Forces) to promote local writers and titles to young children. Storytelling sessions with interactive elements are also popular with this age group.
Poetry is also a perennial favourite among the genres, and this year, SLS is presenting poetry workshops on spoken word (with Marc Nair), on using poetry to cultivate a better and more inclusive society (with Amanda Chong), and on spaces and personal memory (with Theophilus Kwek).
5. What does WGR 2022 seek to achieve with its slate of programmes?
We hope that our exciting suite of programmes will help to:
- Develop an awareness of and appreciation for our diverse cultural and literary heritage through engaging with Singapore literature and writers in the four official languages;
- Provide opportunities for students to gain knowledge and skills relevant to the English and Mother Tongue Language and Literature curricula, through engaging deeply and critically with multiple modalities of literature; and
- Foster creative expression and create opportunities for students to expand their engagement with literature both locally and globally
The WGR began in 2011 as part of the Singapore Writers Festival but has grown to become a standalone, offering schools and students an engaging route into the world of words. Its programmes are all designed with the school curriculum in mind and, in particular, have put Singapore literature in the spotlight over the years.
Said the organising team behind this year’s edition: “It’s a great (and affordable!) way for schools to bring literary professionals into your classrooms for authentic learning, and to inspire a love for reading and literature.
“There’s also nothing quite like the excitement of meeting the writer of a book you’ve read and loved.”
For the full lists of programmes and booking links, visit:
(Photo: National Arts Council)