Children’s books about hardship and survival

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.

Check out my blog for more good books :
Children’s books about hardship and survival
The Importance of reading books

Here is a guide of how to teach your child to read and be well prepared for primary one.
What to expect in Primary One

Thanks for sharing :)

Thanks for sharing 🙂

Thks for your recommendation!!

Thanks for sharing dear Tam, you are always here to "sprinkle" your knowledge in good books….

Good Sharing

Thanks for the sharing. Will see if I can borrow it from the library.

 hi   This novel was

This novel was actually my sec 1 literature text …… sure brought back some good memories. It is a very good book.

Proud Daddy of P1 Boy at Tao Nan School …


The book is not available in Popular.
There are many copies of the book in the regional libraries :

tree nymph

My mother’s baby sister died of malnutrition during the war, her family was living in Malaysia back then 🙁
Need to prepare some tissue paper (for tears), especially when reading the last chapter of the book.


Hi Tam,


is this book available in popular?

Good Recommendation!

Hi Tam,

Always enjoyed reading your blog and I’ve for one, benefitted a lot from it.  Really thankful to you for your sharing and your unselfishness. 

My mum told us how they survived during the Japanese Occupation in Singapore.  She was a kid then.  They have to eat leaves too, and she told me that there were some people resorting to eating tree bark! (??) 

I will get this book and read it myself first! 

thanks for your

thanks for your recommendation. I will check it out.

Sounds like a very touching book

This sounds like a very touching book . A book that will teach our children not to take things for granted and that family and kinship is more important than having a comfortable life with all its material trapping. I must read it myself. 


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