I always believe that reading is not only about learning grammar and vocabulary so as to get high marks in exams.
More importantly, children can learn about good morals and values, life experiences and a wide variety of knowledge by reading good books. Many children in Singapore are not motivated to study, because they have never experienced hunger before. They take it for granted that their parents will always be around to take care of them. I want my kids to read children’s books about hardship and survival, so that they learn to be grateful for what they have.
I just finished reading this wonderful book :
The House of Sixty Fathers
Meindert Dejong (Author) Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)
I highly recommend this book for all kids above the age of 9, and for all adults. For younger kids, it is best for parents to read it with them.
The story is about a young Chinese boy Tien Pao who was separated from his parents during the Japanese invasion of China. With only his pig for company, Tien Pao had to fight for his own survival. He faced starvation and had to eat leaves to survive. He witnessed other young children who were so hungry that they ate mud. Tien Pao rescued an American airman from the Japanese, and he was lucky to be brought to the barracks where sixty American soldiers took care of him, becoming his sixty fathers. But Tien Pao longed to be united with his father and mother.
Tien Pao is one of the strongest characters in all the children’s books that I have read. I admired him for the fact that even though he knew that he would have a life of poverty and hunger with his parents, he still wanted to return to them instead of living in comfort with his sixy American fathers. Children learn about the value of the family, and that no amount of money can replace the love of their parents. I also liked that the fact that no matter how hungry Tien Pao was, he never thought of eating his little pig which he regarded as his real friend. In fact, he fought hard to keep his pig from being eaten by other hungry people.
Many of our grandparents and relatives in China may have encountered the same hardship as Tien Pao and the Chinese people in the book. So this book is excellent for teaching our children about what our forefathers had suffered.
I also like the writing style of the author, Meindert DeJong. His style is very simple and straightforward. His work clearly shows that substance is much more important than style.