Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bedok Public Library: An Afternoon With Entertaining Story-Tellers And Books Galore!

Both the girls love to read books. On days when they do not need to be in school, such as school holidays or weekends, the first thing they do when they wake is often to grab a book and curl up on the living room sofa, sometimes with a bowl of cut fruit to go along with it. When daddy is not working, the standard procedure is for him to read them a story, even if they're capable of reading it themselves. We don't know how this routine got started, but we're happy it caught on.

Typical holiday or weekend morning scene if we're not in a rush to go anywhere that day.

The special surprise this Saturday morning was that not only was daddy going to be home for the day, but that we were all going to spend the afternoon in the library together. Wow! You can imagine the excitement on their faces. For all the books they love to read, they seldom get a chance to visit the library as our bookshelf is stocked with hand-me-downs and second-hands. Today, we get to borrow fresh books, and learn to be responsible for them!

The plan was to meet mummy after lunch at Bedok Point. The bus ride there itself was something to look forward to, and the girls exchanged jokes with each other along the way, commenting on all the chatter going on in the crowded bus around them.

Bedok Point is a food haven, and we decided to try Kungfu Paradise near the main entrance on the first floor after a photograph of a juicy burger caught A.'s eye. They also served soupy noodles, a favourite of K.

Chicken Mushroom Soup Noodles and a Kung Fu Burger (chicken chop hamburger).

Mummy met us there after her class, just in time to see us finish and grab a couple of kaya toast slices from Ya Kun Kaya Toast to munch along our short walk the Bedok Community Library.

Along the way, we chanced upon a queue for free ice-cream. A Japanese brand was promoting their latest flavour and everyone was entitled to one. That means four free tubs of ice-cream for us. We ended up giving away one to an elderly lady as we could not finish it and were eager to go into the library building.

Left: Caramel with white chocoloate flavour. Center: eager queue behind us!. Right: Strawberry flavour.

At the library, we headed for the childrens' section on the third floor and straight to the shelves for preschoolers. We learnt quickly how to read the signs to find the kinds of books that we want. A. loves dinosaurs, but she's also into typical girl themes like princesses and big sisters. K. went for the the easier reads with captivating cartoon-like illustrations.

The books went into a basket and we found a quiet room dedicated to young readers with parents only. The girls immediately dived into their wealth of reading material, and mummy was not spared, often having to answer K.'s requests for story after story. A. on the other hand preferred to read on her own, occasionally pausing to ask questions about things she did not understand.

The parent and child reading room.

After reading for a while, we were interrupted by an announcement informing us about story-telling sessions at the spaceman corner. We took a while to realize where this corner was, and when we arrived, the Mandarin story-teller had started. The girls settled at the back of a small crowd of children, as the story-teller continued her animated stories. Even though the girls are not particularly fluent in Mandarin, I was impressed that A. was able to understand and sit through and understand the entire session. K. on the the other hand preferred to have mummy read to her after listening to the story-teller for about ten minutes.

Story telling in Mandarin.

The Mandarin session was followed by one in English. You could tell immediately when the staff took to the stage that she was experienced and was able to build rapport quickly with young children. I was impressed with the setting of ground-rules in a fun way, involving the children with actions and role-play during the stories, and using of large, well-illustrated books. She told three stories employing various interesting methods, and the children had a wonderful time.

Setting ground rules by means of a 'welcome song'.

Children get excited to role play characters in the story with props!

Captivated audience, captivating story-teller.

The story-telling sessions were an unexpected treat for A. and it'll be something she's definitely going to look forward to the next time we are here. Story-telling schedules for various public libraries can be found on their website ( and it seems that that it is a regular affair on Saturday afternoons at Bedok Public Library, with half an hour of Chinese stories (2.30 to 3 pm) followed by half an hour of English stories (3 to 3.30 pm).
After the story-telling sessions, we consolidated our booty at the pre-schooler section, taking a longer than expected time to sort out which books we were going to borrow, and which to leave behind. This was because while flipping through to see if we wanted to borrow the item, the kids ended up getting distracted from their objective and often found themselves reading the entire book cover to cover.

Our quota for four at eight items each was a hefty total of 32 books. Audio visual items are capped at two per person, and books can be loaned out for a maximum of 21 days. Each kid chose six they wanted to take home.

We proceeded to the ground floor where the girls learnt how to use their member cards to activate the self-borrowing machine, how to place their books to process their loans, and collect the confirmation receipt.

When we finally left the library, it was time for an early dinner. We stopped by the Pastamania at Bedok Point for a family sit-down meal together before hauling our catch of books home in a cab.

Can you guess what the kids were doing at home after dinner? Checking out their new 'toys' of course.

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