Stories that Travel beyond Our Shores

After taking part in our Words on Wheels project in Bandung, Indonesia, SIF volunteer Zulkifli Bin Amin hopes the stories he tells to the children will travel around the country.

Our Words on Wheels project will reach out to an estimated 4,000 schoolchildren from 15 schools in Bandung over the coming three years.

“It felt nice to see children who attended story telling sessions I conducted going around telling their friends about the stories they heard from me. That’s the beauty of storytelling; the stories you create being retold again and again, from person to person. I guess that’s how legends and folktales are kept alive and I hope one day my stories will be told somewhere in Indonesia,” said Zulkifli Bin Amin, a children’s librarian from the National Library Board Singapore who volunteered on the Words on Wheels project in Bandung.

This is SIF’s first mobile library project in Indonesia, and will reach out to an estimated 4,000 schoolchildren from 15 schools in Bandung over the coming three years.

In his professional capacity, Zulkifli develops engaging reading programmes for children, so when the opportunity to bring reading services to children outside of Singapore came up, he signed up readily. Together with a few other colleagues, he travelled with the mobile library van, visiting primary and secondary schools in Bandung and conducted interactive story telling sessions.

“For many years I have been promoting library services and meeting children only within my community. It’s a whole different experience for me coming here, and being able to share, interact, teach and learn from these Bandung kids has brought me a lot of satisfaction in ways you cannot put a monetary value on”.

This group of volunteers conducted activities to enrich the children’s learning experience beyond the books they could borrow from Words on Wheels. These include storytelling in traditional and innovative tablet formats, and a culture sharing session about Singapore.

These interaction sessions became the playground at which Zul shared stories about Singapore with the Bandung children and they in turn learnt about our way of life. To sustain their interest, he often incorporated elements the children are familiar with, for instance, introducing animal characters as the Bandung people appreciate their nature.

This is reflective of his philosophy when it comes to promoting reading to children.

“I believe that learning about children’s interests first would help with recommending appropriate titles that could spur their love for reading. And this is shaped by my experience in the libraries as a child. Believe it or not, I was a reluctant reader then. It was my insatiable craving for amazing facts and trivia about the world that got me hooked on reading - encyclopaedias especially. But because they were not for loan in the past, that’s how I ended up spending hours in the library just trying to absorb as much information as I could.

For Words on Wheels and the school children in Bandung, the hope is that in bringing books and stories to life, they would be encouraged to embark on a lifelong journey of learning.

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