SINGAPORE – On weekends and bank holidays, people flock to the Chek Jawa Wetlands on Pulau Ubin to catch a glimpse of sea creatures like seahorses, crabs and starfish when the tide is out.
But some would remove these creatures from their habitat and play with them, endangering them.
To educate young children about the importance of conserving marine life, Ms. Chew Lee Ching published two books on Sunday (June 5) during the annual book fair at the National Library building in Bras Basah.
Titled Fly, Oli, Fly and Stari’s Wonderful World, the books are part of a five-book bilingual series, Baby King and Friends.
The other three books, Making New Friends with Baby King, Fergie Loses His Way and Hello Mr No-Tail, were published last year.
On Sunday, parents and children were also invited to interactive storytelling sessions with puppets and picture cards from both books in English and Mandarin.
Set in local parks and wetlands to give children ages one to five a sense of familiarity, the stories are about the adventures of a kingfisher who lives in Gardens by the Bay and his friends who he along the way, including an owl and a starfish.
“The stories offer fun opportunities to learn important values like perseverance, not giving up when faced with obstacles. They are also designed to help children appreciate the environment and not remove natural sea creatures from their habitats,” said Ms. Chew, executive director at marketing communications firm Mandate.
The series launched last year during the Covid-19 lockdown but opportunities for young children to interact with their peers have been limited.
“I have noticed that my grandson has become very shy around strangers. Now he’s less shy and more outgoing, and when his parents ask him if he likes making friends, he says ‘yes,'” said Ms. Chew, who added that her grandson’s experience was one of the motivating factors for her to join the series start.
Both books are available for $19.90 and are sold in physical and online bookstores such as Kinokuniya and Maha YuYi.
“Early childhood is the best time to learn a language and when young children are exposed to bilingual stories early on, they can learn the two languages with ease,” said Ms Chew, who is also vice chair of the Promote Mandarin Council.
She said the colorful illustrations and simple words make the story easy for children to understand. It was illustrated by one of her colleagues at Mandate, John Toh.
“I consulted a language expert and showed my work to some parents who gave me feedback when they felt some of the words were too difficult for children to understand,” said the grandmother of two boys, aged one and two and a half years .