The Storytelling Continues…


As a child, I looked forward to bedtime. Sleeping was of course always a pleasure, but that was not the main reason. The real reason was that I, all clad in comfortable pyjamas and snuggled up in bed, would eagerly await to be read bedtime stories!

Stories and storytelling are the most powerful tools that can transform one’s mundane world into something fascinating and larger than life. They can transport a person to a different space altogether; everything imagined becomes a virtual landscape in the mind.

Storytelling hasn’t changed much over the centuries – from drawings etched on ancient stones to today’s digital formats.

And stories and storytelling are the “in” thing now – in a recent Forbes interview, branding pioneer Dr David Aaker, talking about his book Creating Signature Stories, stated that “(t)hey’re more impactful than facts. They get attention. They get remembered. They change perceptions. They change attitudes. They precipitate behaviour, and facts just don’t. Companies are ready for a serious effort to try to incorporate stories.”

But stories are much more than that: they have the ability to heal the mind and soul, and storytelling is used as a tool to enrich people’s lives, workplaces and communities. This beautiful experience is what the Penang International Kids Storytelling Festival (PINKS) tries to bring to life to share with the people of Penang.

PINKS began in 2010 with the aim of nurturing the love for reading among young children; it has now transformed into an annual family adventure. The festival is open to all, especially to children. Themed “Sharing Stories, Enriching Minds”, professional local and international storytellers are invited to mesmerise both children and adults with stories.

It is a free and non-competitive event that takes place in an informal setting where children are taken through a creative and imaginative storytelling experience. Parents and teachers are exposed to the various forms of storytelling techniques and formats as well.

Since its conception, some 66 storytellers have shared their stories, sparking imagination, changing mindsets, introducing new cultures and values, inspiring leadership, and building peace. Many of the storytellers who have participated in PINKS have been invited to big companies, schools and libraries to perform and provide training in storytelling techniques.

PINKS is organised by the Penang Education Council (PEC) under its sub-committee, the Preschool Education Committee, with seed funding from the Penang state government under the leadership of Prof. Dr P Ramasamy, the Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang, in collaboration with the School of Educational Studies from Universiti Sains Malaysia, the Penang Public Library Corporation and the Penang State Education Department. PEC’s mission is to act as a catalyst for change by providing a platform for the lively exploration of new ideas, stimulating the development of innovative solutions and thereby contributing to Penang’s development as the foremost centre for education and learning in the country.

PINKS was also made possible by organisations that sponsor in kind, such as Penang Institute as the venue host, the Royal Thai Consulate-General Penang, British Council, Scholastic Malaysia, Sunquick Malaysia and Penfabric in 2017.

Last year, the two-day event took place on October 28-29. Some 700 children, teachers and parents attended the festival on the first day to listen to the many magical stories told by professional storytellers such as Richard Dian Vilar (Philippines), Sheila Wee (Singapore), Ng Kok Keong (Malaysia), tandem storytellers Jen and Nat Whitman (USA), Alice Bianchi-Clark (Italy), Geeta Ramanujam (India), Suphajon Tae Klinsuwan (Thailand), Suraya Ariffin (Malaysia), Kiran Shah (Singapore), Priyanka Chatterjee (India), Lynne Kirk (UK), Nor Azhar Ishak (Malaysia), Coral-Anne Osborn (UK) and Craig Jenkins (UK).

On the second day, some 62 adults and 77 children participated in the paid Storytelling Technique Workshop to learn the essential skills one needs to tell a better story – be it for self-efficacy, or personal or business communication.


This year, the Penang International Kids Storytelling Festival 2018 will take place on October 27 and 28 at Penang Institute. For more information, visit

Making a difference and leading without a title gives Fatimah Hassan a sense of fulfillment and purpose in life. She also loves to read and is, without a doubt, a book lover.

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