Looking for a bedtime story with a familiar setting? We round up the best books for kids that tell stories about Singapore!
Looking for some new stories for your little bookworm that take them on a literary adventure through Singapore? Head down to your local bookstore or library and add some local reads into the mix: these tales are sure to have the little ones squealing with delight when they recognise their home city and all the things we love about it… and you’re bound to discover something new about The Lion City too!
Playtime With Ye Ye by Pauline Loh
This sweet and simple story about Boy Boy’s relationship with his grandpa, Ye Ye, takes place entirely in their living room, where the two play a game of dress-ups one afternoon. Through the power of Ye Ye’s storytelling and Boy Boy’s imagination, the readers get glimpses of this grandfather’s great milestones – and Singapore’s history. From Ye Ye’s arrival in Singapore by boat, to living through the Japanese occupation to independence and all the way to a fun day out at the Grand Prix together, this is the story of Singapore’s evolution. Written in rhyme, this is a lovely book to read out loud – it introduces children to Singapore’s momentous moments, but perhaps most importantly, Playtime with Ye Ye is about keeping family memories alive. A nostalgic read for parents who’ve grown up in Singapore, but just as poignant for families who have come from abroad, Playtime with Ye Ye is a lovely reminder of the depth of experience of our grandparents – and just how much we can learn from them.
Sarah’s Great Adventure by Madeline Beale
Based on Madeline’s eldest daughter, Sarah, Sarah’s Great Adventure is part of series of four charming books, and is just the thing for multi-ethnic kids and/or kids living in a multicultural society like Singapore. In the Sarah series, a three year old girl named Sarah travels the world to visit her extended family and has many a fun and relatable adventure along the way. Don’r forget to also stock up on the other equally gorgeous books in the series: Sarah’s Yummiest Food, Sarah’s BFF and Sarah’s Happy Holidays! We love that these books let little ones know that being different isn’t so different after all, something super important when living in such a melting pot of ethnicities, religions and cultures here on our sunny island. We recently caught up with Maddie herself to find out more about what it’s like to be part of such a large multicultural family.
Lost in Singapore by Matthew Cooper
Part of his “Lost in” series, Brit-born writer, Matthew Cooper’s Lost in Singapore takes kids on an adventure all around our sunny island. When his pet parrot, Sid, flies away, Ben Wong chases after him on train, plane and bike in a quest to track down his friend. Jam-packed with local flavour and all things travel, this book is sure to satisfy your wanderlust and show the kids that there’s loads more to Singapore than what meets the eye. Check out our chat with Matt himself to see what life is like as a writer and a stay-at-home dad.
Mabel Moves To Singapore by Fleur Vella-Chang
Mabel the penguin is going through a very big change. She and her family are moving from Antarctica to the tropics of Singapore. It’s far and strange and very different. But she quickly realises that when you’re someplace new, everyday is an adventure! Talk about #relatable for expat kids and even their parents who are feeling unsure about their new home. Vella-Chang’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt and wrote the book – just for us! Her other book, Afternoon Tea at Raffles Hotel Singapore, is a board book that also ticks all the boxes: afternoon tea at a really fancy hotel, animals at the zoo and really clever rhymes (“Maxi grabbed a taxi,” “Gus took a bus,” and more). Want to find out more? Check out our full review on Mabel Moves to Singapore and Afternoon Tea at Raffles Hotel Singapore and you’re sure to fall in love with them too!
Find and Seek Singapore by Sally Roydhouse
The concept of this beautiful book was sparked by Australian Sally Roydhouse’s desire to create a keepsake of her own family’s time in Singapore. Little adventurers will love being taken around The Lion City with the book’s protagonist: a little boy with a huge spirit of wonder, who has just arrived in Singapore. Rediscover fave local hang-outs along the way, and get caught up in the colourful, educational verse that will make this book a hit for the whole family. Want to know more? Have a look at HoneyKids’ detailed review of Hide and Seek Singapore.
Jayden & Janelle series by Seema Dadlani and Harsha Dadlani
This fun series of six titles was written by sisters Seeema and Harsha, and stars five-year-old Jayden and his little sister, three-year-old Janelle. These two cuties live in Marine Parade with their parents and grandparents, and the stories follow them in their life in Singapore through HDB estates, chicken rice dinners, Gardens by the Bay and their fave dessert, ice-kacang. Aimed at pre-schoolers, the books embrace strong Singaporean identities and values, and the colourful illustrations will have the little ones page turning time-and-time again.
Pura the Cat by Tan Soon Meng
If the kiddos are mad for cats then this is a great choice for animal-loving littlies by Tan Soon Meng. Follow Pura the super cute cat who lives as a stray on Boat Quay with her besties Bhavana, Mei and Dexter. Life is pretty purr-fect for Pura until one day she is spotted by someone who realises she is a rare Singapura breed, and that catching her can make him a quick dollar or two! This heartwarming tale is a must for feline fans, as well as for any child who loves stories about friendship and heroism!
Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di Series by David Seow
Penned by well-known and well-loved local children’s book writer David Seow, the Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di series follows Singaporean siblings on their adventures together around the Lion City. With eleven enchanting tales in the series, we particularly love A Day With The Duchess, which features a very special royal star in its tale – plus an adorable hamster for a whole lot of cuteness factor. Treat yourself and the kiddos to the whole series of books, which are not only gorgeously written, but also beautifully illustrated (by Soefara Jafney). You’ll go on a fun journey around Singapore without having to leave home!
Sasha in Singapore Series by Shamini Flint
These stories about a little girl called Sasha Singapore make the perfect literary keepsake of your little one’s childhood in Singapore. Sasha heads to all the fun places we love to visit with the fam, from the Botantic Gardens to Sentosa Island (and everywhere in between!) and not only are these books fun to read, they also serve as great guide books for kids on the Little Red Dot! Shamini Flint is the author of the endearing Inspector Singh series for adults – love her work!
Makan Time by Sharon Ismail
Way up on the ‘best things about Singapore’ list would have to be food! This wonderful story follows Sarah and her Grandpa as they set about filling their tummies around Singapore with local delights such as Nasi Lemak and Roti Prata. The bilingual picture book written by Sharon Ismail is aimed at pre-schoolers, and small people will love the activities at the end of the book, as well as being introduced to a host of delicious dishes to try!
Mr Midnight Series by James Lee
For the slightly older kiddos in the family, the Mr Midnight series by James Lee has been running here in Singapore since 1998 and has over 90 books and counting! Each book contains not one, but two ghoulish stories to satisfy even the most voracious bookworms. These mild-horror books, with titles such as My Mad Maid, There’s a Witch in my Watch, and My Class Vampire, are a total hit with the over-sevens, and are all set in and around Singapore. Ghosts in Bishan, vampires in Tampines, and zombies in Serangoon are sure to have your primary school kids engrossed and demanding to devour them all! Mr Lee has certainly (body) bagged this genre of kids’ literature: incredibly, he has outsold JK Rowling and her Harry Potter series here in Singapore and in Malaysia!
Race to Rio by David Seow
Another fantastic read penned by David Seow, and this one gets an extra thumbs up for being all about one of Singapore’s best loved heroes: Joseph Schooling. The charming biography for kids tells the tale of Joseph’s boyhood dreams of sporting glory through his devastating defeats and onto life-changing wins in Rio. If ever there was a wonderful role model for wannabe champs, Joseph Schooling and his Olympic gold glory (a first for Singapore!) prove that all little ones should dream big. Definitely a brilliant read for encouraging kids that determination, dedication and commitment can take you all the way to the stars. Race to Rio gets a gold medal from us for sure.
Singapore Children’s Favourite Stories by Diana Taylor
Diana Taylor has pulled together 11 fantastic myths and tales of all things Singapore from how the island got its name to that time a tiger was found under a billiard table at Raffles Hotel. A great intro for all kids to our island’s multicultural past, colonial roots and surprising history.
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