Written by 12:47 pm Parenting, Preschooler & Up

Childhood Tales: Now & Then

UNESCO recognises the 23rd of April 2015 as World Book & Copyright Day. It is an opportunity to recognise the power of books to transform our lives for the better, and to support books and those who produce them. UNESCO is leading the battle against illiteracy. Literacy serves as the door to knowledge, and is essential for developing individual self-esteem and empowerment. Did you know that 175 million adolescents (mostly girls and young women) in the world are unable to read a single sentence? UNESCO is committed to altering that situation for the better. Thankfully, here in Singapore, literacy is heavily emphasised upon by the state and 96.7% of our population aged above fifteen is literate.

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It has perennially been ingrained in us to possess reading as a habit at a young age. There are currently countless programmes put in place by various educational institutions here in a bid to encourage reading amongst our young ones. So, what are our children these days reading? In lieu of World Book & Copyright Day 2015, we got ten kids to share with us their favourite reads!

1. Claire, aged 9.

Favourite Book: Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata

Why: She likes it because it is an interesting story. There are apparently four sisters from different countries being separated and the youngest sister is in danger of losing her life. She is most terrified, so she tries to escape by climbing out of her bedroom window! Later on, they meet again because their mother is involved in a car accident and she gets badly injured. The four sisters are planning to kidnap her and drive her to the house that she had bought!

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2. Bethany, aged 8.

Favourite Books: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and books by Roald Dahl

Why: She enjoys reading books like Charlotte’s Web and titles by Roald Dahl because they have adventures in them and are interesting. She also likes reading them because they help her with her creative writing in school. She simply loves getting lost in a book!

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3. Gwyneth, aged 7.

Favourite Books: The Rainbow Fairies series by Daisy Meadows, The Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton, the Geronimo Stilton series by Elisabetta Dami

Why: Gwyneth likes the Rainbow Fairies and The Faraway Tree series because they involve fairies and are fantasy stories. She also likes the detective part of the Geronimo Stilton series. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens are two random titles which she recently stumbled upon and she is looking forward to reading more books of these genres. She enjoyed reading Little Women because of its domesticity, and Oliver Twist because she can relate to the orphans and the street kids in the book. She has seen and heard of such children in reality.

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4. Sean, aged 9.

Favourite Books: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, the Diary of Amos Lee series by local author Adeline Foo, and books by James Patterson

Why: Sean enjoys the Harry Potter books as they are very interesting. He cannot wait to start on the next book in the series after he has finished reading one! He finds books by James Patterson to be rather funny, hence he likes them. He considers the Artemis Fowl series to be a very smart one. Sean also likes the Diary of Amos Lee series because the main character is close in age to him.

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5. Theleesha, aged 9.

Favourite Books: The Geronimo Stilton series by Elisabetta Dami

Why: Theleesha enjoys reading this series of books which include titles such as “The Great Tulip Heist” and “Big Trouble in The Big Apple”. She finds the stories interesting, as well as simple to read. The stories are also quite thrilling at times and they create excitement and suspense!

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6. Kendrick, aged 8.

Favourite Book: The Three Little Pigs

Why: Kendrick appreciates any type of story which has lots of humour in it! He will read any story that is funny and interesting. Therefore, he loves this classic fairytale involving the three pigs and a big bad wolf! He also enjoys looking at the illustrations of the wolf trying to blow down the pigs’ houses and dying in the pot of boiling water at the end of the story.

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7. Ansel, aged 5.

Favourite Book: The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

Why: Ansel enjoys reading the tales of the Gruffalo because they are witty ones. They are also very much capable of tapping into his imagination!

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8. Niveyda, aged 9.

Favourite Books: The Diary of A Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney

Why: She enjoys reading this particular series as there are many titles to choose from and each book has a very unique storyline. The plots are always interesting and funny to read because they are a kid’s personal recount!

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9. Iqbal, aged 11.

Favourite Books: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

Why: Iqbal finds both of these fantasy series very interesting. They are also made more interesting by their authors who create their own special words. The climaxes of both the series were also very imaginative, according to him. He also particularly enjoys reading about the characters inspired by Greek mythology in the Percy Jackson series!

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10. Yu, aged 10.

Favourite Books: The Adventure Series by Enid Blyton

Why: Yu likes this series because it is about a group of four children having various adventures. It is informative as well because it provides information on wildlife and nature. The vocabulary used in these books is useful for writing compositions too!

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So that’s what our young ones are reading these days! We are rather sure that apart from authors like Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl, everyone else appears slightly foreign to those of us who grew up in a different era altogether. That brings us to the question, “What did children who grew up during the 1980s and 1990s read?” If you would like to give your child a taste of what kids used to love reading back in the days, read on! Our very own staff members from SingaporeMotherhood and SingaporeBrides tell us what their favourite childhood reads were! Let your child take his or her pick from the “Retro Reads” below!

1. Audrie, sub-editor.

Favourite Books: Series by Enid Blyton and the Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal

Why: I don’t know why I liked Enid Blyton’s books – I just did! (haha) I remember having a collection of her books and they were the hardcover ones. I liked Sweet Valley High because I was in love with the idea of identical twins, so I read on. I believe I continued reading that series until the characters got into college!

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2. Mae, business executive.

Favourite Book: The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen

Why: I enjoyed reading this classic fairytale because it teaches one to be kind to those who are different from us and not to judge from appearances!

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3. June, editor.

Favourite Books: The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, The Wishing Chair series by Enid Blyton and The Enchanted Woods series by Enid Blyton

Why: As a “space cadet” kind of child whose head was always woolly and somewhere in the clouds, I loved how these books would whisk me out of real life and into fantastic realms of magic, talking animals and wonder. They brought me to places beyond my wildest imagination and took me on amazing journeys. I still take these books out to read now, sometimes!

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4. Bee Lee, sales manager.

Favourite Book: The Mudskipper by Ovidia Yu

Why: This book, which I enjoyed reading with my kids, is about a ten year old girl who has been living in England. She returns to Singapore to visit her grandfather after her father passes away. Her aunt prevents her meeting up with her grandfather because she fears that she will take away her grandfather’s fortune. By chance, she meets her grandfather unknowingly and experiences the things her father loved when he was a child. The book ends on a happy note as she is eventually reunited with her grandfather. I like this book as it is heartwarming and it addresses themes of dreams and kinship. It also talks about familiar things in Singapore.

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5. Eileen, webmaster.

Favourite Books: The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene

Why: My primary school library used to be my second home, so I often went there to borrow books. I discovered a series of books on Nancy Drew Mysteries and got hooked onto it because the detective was also a young girl, like myself! It was really fun reading all those books because I could immerse myself in the books, imagining that it was me going on all those fun adventures! Heidi by Johanna Spyri was also one of my favourite classics!

6. Karen, accounts executive.

Favourite Books: The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene

Why: The plots of these books always involved some sort of mystery element, hence I loved reading them. I was very much fascinated by this series during my school days!

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7. Andre, webmaster.

Favourite Book: Charlie & The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Why: I love how the book created an enjoyable imagination especially with chocolate and adventure! Also, the message from the book was good. You know, kids love chocolate, and I really enjoyed reading it as a kid because I loved chocolate, and still do! I also love this book because it invoked empathy and awareness of social class.

8. Bob, business manager.

Favourite Book: Charlie & The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Why: I am honestly not an avid reader. However, in primary school, we had one period during school hours when we were made to sit and read. I went to the library, looked at the most popular books’ ranking and chose this book because it was the only available one. (it’s fated!) At that time, I liked the book because to me, it was simple reading. Roald Dahl wrote it in such a way that as a kid, I could comprehend Charlie’s feelings, like being close to his grandparents, and his love for chocolate. It got to a point that I wished I was Charlie. Also, the book was broken down into readable paragraphs, with illustrations in between – this helped me a lot. The style of writing was also humorous and I do remember giggling to myself during some parts when I was reading alone.

I also remember reading this book three times, and soon enough, I began to comprehend the subliminal messages that Roald Dahl was trying to convey. They were actually life lessons on not being greedy, to always respect your elders and never to be rude.

Above all, I love Roald Dahl’s vivid description of the factory and it made me visualise how the chocolate pool and the nut-picking squirrels would look like. Now, I want to revisit this book!

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9. Charlene, BP administrator.

Favourite Books: Series by Enid Blyton

Why: I remember mostly reading books by Enid Blyton. They were introduced to me by my friends back in my school days, and I eventually got hooked onto them!

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10. Uma, sub-editor.

Favourite Books: Boy by Roald Dahl and the Tintin series by Herge

Why: Boy was the very first book by Roald Dahl which I managed to get my hands on in primary school, and I never regretted it. The story is actually centred upon the life of the author, Roald Dahl himself! I fondly recall having been fascinated by Dahl’s descriptions of the confectionaries in the local sweet shop run by Mrs Pratchett. The details provided made them sound so wonderfully irresistible! Dahl’s recount of his intriguing experiences in the boarding schools he attended were also the subject of my awe. The concept of a boarding school was something that sounded both foreign and exotic to me at that time.

Having a few pennies to spend at the sweet shop on liquorice, writing with a fountain pen and owning a tuck box were all such interesting morsels of information which triggered my young imagination. This book left me yearning for more of such stories by Roald Dahl and I recall then having borrowed all his books which I could find, at my school library. Some of the titles were Matilda, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and Going Solo. I would read these books all over again anytime!

The Tintin series is my all-time favourite comic book series! I was very much in love with the idea of being a young reporter who solved mysteries accompanied by his faithful little dog. Captain Haddock, the Thomson & Thompson twins and Professor Calculus all made for such an eccentric team which I can never forget! The Tintin books were a luxury back then, thus I recall having spent hours in the school library just to read whichever I could get my hands on.

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Happy World Book & Copyright Day, everyone!

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