Jul 23, 2013

7 Authors Your Children Should Read Before Pri 1

[Guest Post]

In collaboration with Monsters Under the Bed, we will sharing certain articles from each other's websites periodically. And what is Monsters Under The Bed you ask? They are a creative writing school, that encourages children to imagine and create characters and stories.

In this article, Adan Jimenez (co-author of the Sherlock Sam series) shares with us 7 authors that your child should come into contact with before the dreaded Primary 1.


Kindergarten students will soon be graduating and starting their Primary 1 classes. They will learn math, their mother tongue, and English. We at MUTB are most concerned with English and the Literary Arts (though Math and second language are important too), and to help your children really be ready (and possibly more than ready), I have created a handy-dandy guide to seven authors your Primary 1-bound children should read (or have read to them)! – By Adan Jimenez

Child with book
1. Roald Dahl

This man is a giant in the children’s literature world, and is what many of us aspire to be. Every single one of his books has been an instant classic (okay, maybe not The Twits, but still), and many of them have been turned into movies (sometimes twice) and musicals and stage plays. His most famous work is probably Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and while you should definitely read that to your kids (or let them read it themselves while you explain some of the more complicated words), I would also strongly suggest the lesser-known but no less excellent Danny the Champion of the World. One of my favorite things about Dahl’s books is that they’re all just a little bit naughty and subversive, but only in the best ways possible.

2. Enid Blyton

This woman is also a giant in the children’s literature world, and what many of us aspire to be. Pretty much all of her series, from The Famous Five and The Secret Seven, to Malory Towers and St. Clare’s, to The Magic Faraway Tree and The Wishing-Chair, have been read and re-read by children around the world (except maybe by Americans because we’re uncultured like that). Her writing makes children believe that anything is possible, and, more importantly, that they themselves are the architects of those possibilities. A side note: some of her stories have been charged with sexist or racist undertones, but most of those aspects have been edited out for contemporary audiences. Whether that is a good or bad thing, I’ll let others argue; I will be going on another adventure on the Wishing-Chair!

Dr. Seuss
3. Dr. Seuss

Spruce up your goose with Dr. Seuss! Yes, that was a horrible nonsense rhyme, but fret not, for every single Dr. Seuss book has many excellent nonsense rhymes! Besides the terribly catchy and easy-to-memorize text (which helps children build their vocabulary), the books feature some of the most surreal and fantastic children’s art you’re likely to ever see while not medicated by a physician. Dr. Seuss’ books are populated by the most interesting, lovable, grotesque, colorful, and just downright weird creatures that will stick in your mind until you no longer have one, and they’ll probably live on even then. There’s no one on this world who has read Green Eggs and Ham and cannot instantly recall Sam-I-Am.

4. L. Frank Baum

The Land of Oz is one of the most richly detailed fantasy worlds ever created, and it holds such an important place in our collective consciousness, that more canonical Oz books were actually written by people not named L. Frank Baum! But without the original fourteen books written by Baum, which introduce all the characters and places we know and love (like Dorothy, the Emerald City, Jack Pumpkinhead, Princess Ozma, the Tin Woodsman, the Shaggy Man, Tik-Tok, and many, many others), nothing afterwards would exist! Whether your children’s first introduction to Oz is from the movie or the books, they’ll want to continue those adventures. Luckily, there are over forty books to keep them engaged! However, make sure they stay away from the 1985 Disney film Return to Oz because it is super creepy and will give your children nightmares (it still gives me some occasionally).

American Gods
5. Neil Gaiman

He is the most contemporary of the authors on this list thus far, and possibly better known for his adult works like the comic book series Sandman or novels like American Gods, Good Omens, and Neverwhere, but Gaiman also has a growing number of children’s books perfect for young children, including Chu’s Day, about a young panda who really ought not to sneeze, Odd and the Frost Giants, about a Norse boy helping out some very special animals, and the forthcoming Fortunately, the Milk, about a father who goes to great lengths to make sure his two children have milk for their breakfast cereal. The last one I especially recommend, as it seems to delight children from the age of five to the age of one-hundred-and-five, especially when read aloud in silly voices.

6. Myths, Legends, and Folktales

This one’s a bit of a cheat, as the myths, legends, and folktales of the world weren’t written by just one author, but in fact originated in every culture of the world, with multiple storytellers changing the stories as they were telling them, adding here and taking away there, and most weren’t codified until relatively recently; less than one thousand years ago. But the many similarities of these stories, which again were told in every culture of the world (many too far away from each other for any form of contact), lead me to believe that our collective unconsciousness wrote them, and therefore, were written by one author. So nyah nyah. Many of these stories are too adult in their unabridged forms for a child about to enter P1, but the great majority of them are available in simplified forms in more collections than I could possibly mention, which are perfect for children. And letting them read myths, legends, and folktales at such a young age will ensure their insatiable appetite for more stories in the future. At least, that’s what happened to me when I first encountered the Egyptian, Greek, and Aztec gods.

Street poets
7. Local Authors

Okay, this one is definitely a cheat. Singapore boasts a fantastic array of children’s authors who write in many styles and genres about many different subjects and characters, and they’re all pretty great, from Eliza Teoh’s Ellie Belly series, to Adeline Foo’s Diary of Amos Lee series, to my own Sherlock Sam series, which I co-write with my wife Felicia Low-Jimenez (if you’ll pardon the brazen self-promotion). Other great children’s authors based in Singapore include (but are certainly not limited to) David Seow, Emily Lim, Jason Erik Lundberg, Don Bosco, Jessie Wee, Caline Tan, Ho Minfong, and many, many more. Besides being good books all on their own, local fiction allows your children to a) see themselves in their fiction, and recognize the world in these books as their own, and b) shows them that they too can write stories and share them with the world.

Hopefully, your children will have read (or you will have read to them) at least two of the above authors before that first day of Primary 1. Their interest in English can only benefit from being exposed to such excellent stories! And for more on engaging your child with books, follow us on Facebook!

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