Magic Of The First Book

Written by Cassie Lim, Be Movement issue 1 – SINGAPORE, published October 2012 Do you remember the wonder you felt when you held your very first book? The promise to a different world, where adventures abound and colourful creatures come alive. That childlike wonder, so open and unguarded, before scepticism arrives and pull the veil over magic and fantasy. This precious feeling is what Nawan Poovarawan (Noom) gifted to the underprivileged children from her homeland, Thailand, with her ‘‘My First Book Project’’. Noom came from a family who loves books, especially her father who is an educator and would never stop her from buying books. From a young age, she developed the love for books and writing, though she never really delved into that as an adult as life pretty much took over. Noom2 Following a successful stint of careers with MNCs and a busy social life, she buried that love for writing as other priorities took over. Sounds familiar? Perhaps almost all of us have a forgotten passion buried deep down in our hearts, unable to get an airing due to our busy schedules, forgotten until we come across an event, a place or a piece of work that burns a hole into that exact spot where we buried our passion. This was what happened when Noom attended a Landmark Forum back in 2009, which triggered her passion to come to light. First, the all too familiar fear and hesitation in human nature arose and started offering unwanted commentary on how she was not a writer, she has never published anything and who would want to publish or read anything that she writes? The most difficult part was the start and it has been said that sometimes the harshest critics are our very own selves. It was easy to cop out, since she has a great career and full social life. Why go through all this? Why let her work be judged and reveal herself through writing? Why take on all these troubles to give back to society? For the simple reason that once the hole was made, it was difficult to hold back its slow, persistent ebb. There was this tiny nagging voice that kept asking her to try. The turning point came when she was reminded of the wonder she felt when she held her first book and entered the magical world of reading. “I wanted to encourage kids to know the world through reading and to find their own passions,” said Noom. She borrowed strength from that feeling and decided to do what she has always wanted to, but never did—she wrote. In fact, she took two years to write a small book of poetry in Thai. Not only has she not written for decades, but she took it upon herself to write Thai classical poetry. One would have thought you need years of study and credentials, knowledge and expertise to write in Thai classical poetry, but actually she did possess all these as a child. She spent years entranced by Thai classical poetry and stories. More importantly, she loved it and lived it, as it subsumed and consumed her imagination. Technically she may not produce a P.h. D thesis-standard work, but that did not matter. People might not like or even read her book, but she’s moved past that. “ Writing is just a form of expression, there is no right or wrong.” Deep down she understood that, even though she is not a professional writer, she has the passion of a professional writer. After all, what is the most important quality that makes a person a professional? Reading2 While writing her book, she planned how to offer the gift of reading to children, just as she was privileged enough to receive it when she was young. It was very important to her that the children got to choose their preferred books, just as she did. Therefore it is not about stuffing the child with selected books, but rather offering a choice. The

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completion of her first poetry book was made possible with the help from her two friends, Saranee Boonritthongchai (Ning) and Pinida Chaikul (Pan). Similar to Noom, both did not claim themselves as professional illustrator and designer but they have the passion and share this same vision. Leveraging on her corporate experience, she felt that she needed a strong supporting partner, one who can arrange for the logistics and distribution of books to underprivileged children in Thailand. She found it in World Vision and contacted them through a phone call, which started the project rolling. Once her focus was fixed, things started to line up almost serendipitously. Support from Se-Education, a publisher in Thailand, came in through her father’s contact and she was able to do a first print run of 1,000 copies. Within eight weeks the books sold out, through family and friends’ support, and she was able to arrange with the publisher and World Vision to bring a truckload of books to 1,000 underprivileged children in Southern Thailand for their selection. For these 1,000 children, they finally have the opportunity to own their first book of their choice. The look on these children’s faces, the concentration as they flip the pages and the smiles that they had, these made everything worthwhile for Noom. She spent two years at her own pace and own expense, creating, publishing and distributing the books. She really did not have to do it and yet she did. The fulfilment that she felt from gifting these children their first book was overwhelming and something that cannot be bought. In fact she felt that the investment was small compared to the benefits that it will create for these children, and guess what? She is doing it all over again at the end of 2012 and this time it will be poetry on cards instead of books. Visit My First Book Project






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