• Vivian Teo

(UPDATED) 5 highlights worth checking out with your kids at the Singapore Writers Festival 2021

Here are five highlights worth checking out with your kids at this year's Singapore Writers Festival!

Singapore writers festival 2021 Vivian Teo Arts House

UPDATED: 26 November 2021

The video-on-demand (VOD) at SWF is now available till 5 December! Hurray!


UPDATED: 24 November 2021


Just wanted to give you a quick heads-up that most of the sessions at the Singapore Writers Festival - including my session, 'Friendship: The Real Unsinkable Ship' with Debbi Michiko Florence and Melanie Lee - are now available on video-on-demand (VOD) via the SWF's website. You can access it with your Festival Pass or purchase a VOD pass to access the videos.


I had caught a number of VOD sessions which I had missed during the festival and it was really great hearing from so many authors and creatives! The VODs are available till 28 November! So hurry!


Original post: 6 November 2021


Here's me with my cool Singapore Writers Festival 2021 tote bag outside The Arts House, the venue for onsite events taking place during the festival happening on 5-14 November!


I'm always excited about this annual event as it's a great opportunity to meet and hear the thoughts of local and international writers. This year, I'm also on a lookout for writing workshops for kids as I have two young budding writers at home. The event is really one for the family as other than workshops, there are also a number of sessions like story-telling and children book launches (some free!) that are great for kids. Given the pandemic, most sessions are held online, so it's really convenient for those who'd rather stay home during this period.


So, here are five highlights worth checking out with your kids at this year's SWF!


1) Kid-friendly workshops and talks

As mentioned, there are a number of workshops and talks that are suitable for kids in this year's SWF. I've sifted out the ones my kids are looking forward to (some had already ended by the time of writing, unfortunately!):


6 Nov, 12pm – 1pm and 13 Nov, 12.30pm – 1.30pm: Adventures in My Lunchbox with Shirley Wong (Little Miss Bento) (Venue: Zoom)

Your next adventure is right in your lunchbox! Learn bento making skills and techniques with celebrity food artist and cookbook author Shirley Wong (Little Miss Bento), and make your very own adorably appetising character bento box — just in time for lunch! This session is recommended for ages 7 – 12, with adult supervision. Participants are required to prepare the ingredients and tools ahead of the workshop.


6 Nov Sat, 5.30pm - 7pm: On the Trail of a Red Herring with Sylvia Bishop (Venue: Zoom)

Pick up tips for writing an exciting mystery story in this workshop with Sylvia Bishop, author of The Secret of the Night Train and other adventurous middle-grade mysteries. Learn how to lay out clues that mislead your detective but end up making so much sense in the end, when all is finally revealed. This session is recommended for ages 10 – 12.


6 Nov Sat, 8pm - 9.30pm: Write Your Next Adventure with Debbi Michiko Florence (Venue: Zoom)

Know a young aspiring writer who does their best creative work at night? Join US-based Debbi Michiko Florence, author of the award-winning Jasmine Toguchi series in this workshop and learn tips for creating compelling characters. She shares how to use personal experiences, hopes, and dreams for young writers to create characters of their own. This programme is recommended for ages 7 – 9.


7 Nov Sun, 4.30pm - 5.30pm: Detectives and Agents on Tour! with Sylvia Bishop and Darren Lim (Venue: Online via Sistic Live)

Travel vicariously with teen detectives and cat agents as they go on missions to solve mysteries and save the world! Find out how research lays the groundwork for vivid depictions of journeys and destinations in books like Sylvia Bishop's exciting cross-continent train ride for The Secret of the Night Train, and Darren Lim's trip to the beautiful island of Boracay for Ace Agent Spycat and the Flying Sidekick. This session is recommended for ages 10 – 12.


7 Nov Sun, 6pm - 7pm: So What if I'm a Crazy Cat Person? with Patrick Yee, Elieth Sardiñas and Yeow Su Xian (Shu) (Venue: Online via Sistic Live)

Embrace your inner crazy cat person with three picture book illustrators, as they discuss how they indulge in their love for cats and draw inspurration from their feline friends.


7 Nov Sun, 8.30pm - 9.30pm: Friendship: The Real Unsinkable Ship with Vivian Teo (ahem, yes it's moi) and Debbi Michiko Florence (Venue: Online via Sistic Live)

Ever been tempted to unfriend and block? Whether it's drama over crushes, broken promises or just plain ol' growing apart, we've all been there. Two authors share how they try to capture the trials and tribulations of growing up and portray strong relationships and friendships that keep readers emotionally invested.

7 Nov Sun, 9pm - 10pm: R.L. Stine: Beware or Be Scared (Venue: Online via Sistic Live)

Don’t freak out, it’s only R.L. Stine! Best known for the phenomenal teen horror series Goosebumps and Fear Street, his iconic characters and illustrious book covers have terrified millions around the world. Join the beloved author as he ruminates on the relationship between horror and humour, and what else he has in store to scare us. Beware... You Choose The Scare!!


13 Nov Sat, 6pm - 7pm: Navigating Memory Lane with Daryl Kho and Melanie Lee (Venue: The Arts House and online via Sistic Live)

Living in an ageing society, health issues that impact the elderly is a subject that more families need to grapple with. How can we broach such complex issues with our children in a sensitive and engaging way? Authors Melanie Lee and Daryl Kho discuss how they use exciting fantasy elements like mythical creatures and superpowers to explore the topic of dementia in stories for middle-grade readers. This session is recommended for parents and children and includes a live Q&A towards the end of the session. (In-person seats for this programme have been fully booked).


Do note that some of these sessions are free while some require the purchase of a Festival Pass which costs $20-35, and allows you to attend all if not, most of the sessions. Very worthwhile if you ask me! More details on the sessions and how to purchase the passes at the SWF website!


2) Story-telling sessions for little ones

There a few story-telling sessions for the little ones (some had also ended by the time of writing, sorry!)

7 Nov Sun, 1pm - 1.45pm: TomDogfoolery and Other Animal Shenanigans with Ross Collins (Venue: Online via Sistic Live)

What are the animals getting up to? Find out with Ross Collins, as he reads from some of his hilarious picture books, including This is a Dog and There's a Bear on My Chair. Then, see these animals get up to brand new mischief in the award-winning picture book author's live drawings. This pre-recorded session is recommended for ages 4 – 6.


7 Nov Sun, 2pm - 2:30pm: Bilingual Storytime with Nur-El-Hudaa Jaffar (Venue: Zoom)

What's making Grand-aunt Tina sneeze? (We promise it's not Covid!) Find out how Nuha and her family identify the cause and learn some problem-solving techniques in this bilingual storytelling session with Nur-El-Hudaa Jaffar, the author of Ah Cim! Ah Choo!, and Yaney Yusup. This session is in Malay and English, and is recommended for ages 4 – 8.


13 Nov Sat, 10.30am - 11.15am: Hedwig's Adventures with Amy J Cheng (Venue: Zoom)

Who is the woman behind the big glasses and curly hair? Everyone has little untold stories that make us who we are, including the amazing Hedwig Anuar. What was her least favourite subject in school? Did she really read books in a tree? Would she pick Enid Blyton or Nancy Drew? Discover more about the awesome woman behind our public libraries in this storytelling session with Amy J Cheng. This session is recommended for ages 4 – 8.


Likewise, some of these sessions are free while some require the purchase of a Festival Pass which costs $20-35, and allows you to attend all if not, most of the sessions. More details on the sessions and how to purchase the passes at the SWF website!


3) New book launches

I love attending book launches! It's a great way to meet the authors who wrote your favourite books and learn about how their books came about. Even if you haven't read these books, it's always a great way to hear and learn more about new books that may interest your kids! These book launches are free, btw!

13 Nov Sat 10am - 10.30am: Marky Polo in Beijing, by Emily Lim-Leh | World Scientific Education (Venue: The Arts House)

Marky's cousin Martial Polo invites him to Beijing, after hearing of his first trip overseas to Tokyo. Martial Polo is a Wushu enthusiast who dreams of being a renowned martial arts expert like Great-grandmother MuayThai Polo. Martial turns Marky's holiday into an exhausting strength-building, endurance-training workout. Can Marky endure Martial's bossy nature and find a way to enjoy sightseeing in Beijing at a slower pace?


13 Nov Sat 11:30am - 12pm: Book Launch of Mr Roll Finds New Life, by Sophia Huang | Marshall Cavendish International Asia (Venue: The Arts House)

Mr Roll is a regular toilet paper tube. He is hardworking and does his job well. But when the paper runs out, he is tossed aside and labelled as trash… Is this the end for Mr Roll? Come along with Mr Roll as he discovers that there is so much more that he can be.


13 Nov Sat, 3pm - 3:30pm: Book Launch of Marvellous Mammals: A Wild A to Z of Southeast Asia, by Debby Ng and Darel Seow | Difference Engine (Venue: The Arts House)

We know that dogs bark, cats meow, and cows moo. But do you know dholes whistle “whee-whee”, wild boars grunt “grrt-grrt”, and siamangs call out “ooh-wow-wow”? The Southeast Asian forests are full of incredible wildlife waiting to be discovered. In the humid nature reserves of Singapore, high up the mountain forests of Papua, and in the tropical waters of the Irrawaddy, a multitude of mammals live their unseen lives. They await a bold explorer to learn their secrets. Could that explorer be you? In this beautifully illustrated alphabet book, wildlife ecologist Debby Ng and illustrator Darel Seow part the leaves to showcase lesser-known animals of Southeast Asia! Readers will learn about these unique mammals’ habitat, behaviour, food choices, and their relationship with humans.


14 Nov Sun, 1pm - 1:30pm: Book Launch of Twitchy Witchy Itch, by Priscilla Tey | Candlewick Press (Venue: The Arts House)

Itch the witch is having company over for tea. As the clock counts down to tea o’clock, Itch’s mind is in a tizzy: is her house too twitchy? Is her home too itchy? Zipping and zooming, dusting and brooming, Itch sweeps and bewitches the mess away (just in the nick of time). But as soon as her two guests walk in, Itch’s housekeeping comes unraveled. How will Itch tame such an itchy, glitchy, fidgety mess? Rising star Priscilla Tey uses computer-aided design (and evokes familiar computer glitches) to present a delightfully meta, intricately illustrated story that dazzles as it amuses.


14 Nov Sun, 4:30pm - 5pm: Book Launch of Last Kid Running: Night of the Six Headed Robogator, by Don Bosco | Penguin Random House SEA (Venue: Zoom)

Welcome to Book 2 of the thrilling LAST KID RUNNING gamebook series, where YOU decide how the story unfolds. You are Runner X, one of six eager contestants on the biggest reality show streaming on the mobile web. This time, you’re taken to a secret venue in Indonesia. The enigmatic Dr Yamato has created a massive Run Dome filled with crazy technological inventions to challenge you and amuse his viewers. You’re prepared to face anything, even the intimidating Six Headed Robogator. But the night gets creepy. And you can’t help feeling that the Run Dome hides a nasty surprise in its shadows. Will you be too overwhelmed to outrun the others? Or do you have what it takes to be the LAST KID RUNNING? Quick, open the book and find out!


4) The cool Magic Book Bus

Magic book bus singapore writers festival 2021 swf

The Magic Book Bus - literally a bookstore in a bus - is something you have to see in person! You can browse titles from presenters at the SWF 2021 in this pink and super cool bus but being quite small and with social distancing measures in place, you might need to queue to enter on busy days! That said, there wasn't much of a queue at 10 plus in the morning when hubs was there on a Saturday!

Magic book bus singapore writers festival 2021 swf

The Magic Book Bus will be at the following locations during these times and dates:

6 & 7 Nov, Sat & Sun, 10am - 8pm, National Library

8 - 12 Nov, Mon - Fri, 5pm - 10pm, The Arts House

13 Nov, Sat, 10am - 8pm, The Arts House

14 Nov, Sun 12pm - 7pm, The Arts House

Magic book bus singapore writers festival 2021 swf

From now till 30 November, you can also enjoy 10% discount off books at the Festival Bookstore which is brought to you by Closetful of Books!

5) Free Literary Pioneer Exhibition: Hedwig Anuar

singapore writers festival hedwig anuar exhibition 2021 swf

Happening 6 - 14 Nov, Sat - Sun, 10am - 9pm, is the Festival's first open-air Literary Pioneer exhibition at the National Library Plaza that let's you learn about Hedwig Anuar, the first Singaporean director of the National Library, champion of children's literature, and pioneer who built the foundations for our modern library system.

You can explore the exhibition in person or virtually via the SWF's digital microsite. Entrance to the physical exhibition is free, but pre-registration is recommended to ensure that you secure a 45-minute slot for entry into the exhibition. Walk-ins are allowed if there are available slots for that session. That said, hubs was the only one there at 10 plus on a Saturday though he had booked a ticket 😁 Oh and there is a really lovely activity book you can pick up at the exhibition. See below!

swf singapore writers festival hedwig anuar exhibition national library activity book

Well, I hope you and your family will enjoy SWF 2021 and if you've signed up for my session at the SWF on 7 Nov, I hope to see you soon! 😉


Disclaimer: We bought our own Festival Pass, and my opinions and reviews here are strictly my and my family’s own.


©Vivian Teo. All content and photos are copyrighted to Vivian Teo unless otherwise specified.


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