Bilingual Storybook Series for All Pre-schools in Singapore

March 28, 2014

Sponsored by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism

SEED Institute and the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language (SCCL), with sponsorship from the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism, have produced a series of picture storybooks in Chinese and English for pre-school children. The series has been translated from the English storybook series first published by the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) in 2012, supported by SEED Institute and written by international award winning author, Emily Lim.

This illustrated series of four book titles, A Very Big Storm, Little Otter Goes Fishing, Under the Sea Under the Sea, and The Really Really Hot Day, each evolving around a central co-operative theme has much to offer to encourage character building in young children and allows them to learn English and Chinese in a fun and interactive way. The Chinese stories are translated by SCCL. The series has been piloted in The Little Skool-House International On-The-Green.

These books will be distributed to all 1,600 pre-schools in Singapore by the end of April 2014. Each pre-school will receive two sets of the picture storybooks. Besides being used for lessons at school, these books can also be loaned to parents to read with their children at home.

Dr Tan Chee Lay, Deputy Executive Director, SCCL, said, “Bilingualism starts young, and these bilingual storybooks will not only attract the attention of young readers by facilitating cross-cultural and cross-lingual communication, they can also positively affect cognitive abilities. With better focus of linguistic attention and more effective task-switching capacities, bilingual readers’ interest in learning the Chinese language can also be enhanced.”

The bilingual series serves as a valuable resource in helping children increase their vocabulary in a language that they may not be as strong in. Repeated exposure to the story’s context in both English and Chinese will improve children’s understanding and recognition of words and enable them to pick up new words and phrases as they become familiar with the stories.

Dr Kok Siat Yeow, Deputy Director, Programmes of SEED Institute said: “The key aims of the books are to promote children’s development in both languages and analytical thinking. Teachers and parents can strengthen this process even further when they read the same books out loud and discuss the story with children in their respective languages.”

In addition to reading, activities such as dramatisation, rhymes and games can be purposefully designed around the themes to provide more opportunities for children to use words and sentences in both English and Chinese that they have learnt from the storybooks.

“SNCF launched this Children’s Storybook series to encourage character building, promote reading and instil positive values from a young age. We are happy that it is now also available in Chinese, to encourage children to pick up more vocabulary from these stories as they learn about co-operative values of self-help, mutual help, cooperation, and caring for the community. We hope these stories not only touch young children, but also the parents who read to them,” said Ms Dolly Goh, Chief Executive of SNCF.

In the month of May and July, SEED Institute will conduct both English and Chinese workshops where participants will learn to organise lessons and activities around the books.