11 March 2018

The inaugural Pen UP! Kid Lit Awards aim to develop new bilingual and Malay language stories for our young Singaporeans. It is organised by Ungu Pen as part of the BuySingLit movement, and supported by the National Arts Council.

It is very small in scale but big in vision, and it is a meaningful step towards making Bilingual and Malay kid lit awesome!


The Pen UP! Kid Lit Fest was a day of sharing of knowledge of what makes good kid lit. This was presented by one of Pen UP!’s judges and speaker, Ms Suzanne Noor, Global Solution Specialist at Global Mifflin Harcourt. The good tips and knowledge shared by Ms Suzanne is too short for an in-depth study of quality content for children. However, it is important for authors, illustrators, and publishers to create high quality books that will attract parents to choose these books and for children to be immersed in its story.


Our panelist of speakers, Ms Suzanne Noor, Ms Rohayah Lani and Ms Maria Mahat discussed about raising effectively bilingual children. Ms Maria, founder of Ungu Pen and moderator of the panel speaks about how the Bilingual Policy in Singapore is so effective that it resulted in an unintended consequence whereby our generation of children are not speaking/using our mother tongue language well. As someone who has trained early childhood educators, she also finds that early childhood educators felt forced or not confident to teach the Malay language to our pre-schoolers. The panel spoke about “personal motivation” about learning languages – one’s perception if one speaks more than one language. The other aspect is “exposure” or “immersion” using OPOL (one parent one language) or in this day and age where we have a domestic helper or grandparents’ involvement, we could consider OCOL (one caregiver one language). As much as we should be compelled to be proud of our identity and race, we must also act in a way “not to uphold one language and demonize another.”  In fact, we should consider being multilingual as it brings cognitive benefits to the child.

The event culminated with us announcing the pioneering winners for our inaugural Pen UP! Kid Lit Writing Awards (Anugerah Penulisan Sastera Kanak-Kanak Pen UP!) 


Here are the Winners!
Children Picture Book (Bilingual) | Buku Bergambar Kanak-Kanak (Dwi-Bahasa)

FIRST : Nur-El-Hudaa Jaffar
SECOND : Idayu Hussain
CONSOLATION : Syazana M Sani, Juzaila Jumari & Noraishah Md Shah

Early Chapter Book (Malay) | Buku Bab Awal (Bahasa Melayu)

FIRST : Nur Khairiah Md Amin
SECOND : Nur-El-Hudaa Jaffar
CONSOLATION : Siti Laila Omar, Tuty Alawiyah Isnin

Congratulations to ALL! We are definitely looking forward to work with the winners in seeking funding for the publication of their stories. We would also like to add that all entries have been blind reviewed by our panel of judges.

BuySingLit (Book Council Sg)
National Arts Council
National Library Board
Pasir Ris Public Library
Latman International LLP
Amanah Mustafi
Rohayah Md Lani
Noor Suzanne
Maria Mahat

All the participants who submitted their stories, guests, and team ungupen, and our very delightful 14 year old emcee, Qistina Aisyah.