March is always an exciting month and it is usually at this time of the year that the ideas and plans from the previous year germinate and begin to grow shoot. So, it’s the perfect time for me to emerge from my blog hibernation and say howdy!
Firstly, a bit of news from the SG50 post event! It was a lovely evening at the dome (Gardens by the Bay) on the 18th of March as I joined the SG50 celebratory dinner. The Sakura was in full bloom ouside the glass doors while the ceiling of the hall was lit up by the most astounding colourful lights that I had ever seen. It was enchanting! And in such a beautiful setting, we bid farewell to SG 50 and set our sight on the next 50 years instead. Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong officiated the ceremony for a time capsule containing items like identity cards and school uniforms and this capsule will be opened for centennial celebrations in 2065. I would love to be part of it again… if I am still alive!
Next, I have a book list update. Actually, I got a bit overwhelmed by the adult fiction and took a tiny detour to the kids’ section instead. And, if at all you think children’s books are kids’ play. Well, think again! When books in their deceptively simple style tackle issues like gender bias, racial discrimination and topics usually considered socially difficult, then it’s surely time to pay homage to the great authors and illustrators who create these books. My list here includes books that might be of interest to kids and early teens though some are evergreen books, to be enjoyed by all.
For the tiny tots, I recommend, The Paper Bag Princess. The story goes against the usual fairy tale tradition of portraying female characters as a damsel in distress. Instead, the female lead turns in to a witty and sassy role model who takes charge of her life. So, this book is for all the little girls and the little boys because they all should know that gender bias is not cool. Not at all!
Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne: This book is recommended for primary school kids. Yes, it’s a picture book but don’t be fooled by that. It packs a serious punch as it narrates the story using different perspectives. It talks of racial and social disparity and its illustrations are so clever that you better spend some time locating the hidden images in there. (Hint:I am talking about images such as Monalisa and King Kong).
Bird by Zetta Elliott: This is a sensitive and beautiful picture book for readers aged, 5-13 (or even above). It talks about loss, addiction and acceptance through words that are subtle and illustrations that are gentle. I am a fan.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White: Of course, this classic needs no introduction! It’s a book of friendship for both kids and adults alike.
Little Pioneers by Bessie Chua: This book is recommended for all the young readers of Singapore, aged 8 and above. The book talks about a beautiful relationship between Chun and her grandmother and paints a vivid picture of the streets of Chinatown, Singapore in 1897.
Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine is a book recommended for adults, kids and teens alike. The story is based on real life events in the concentration camp. The narration however begins in the year 2000, when a suitcase arrives at a children’s Holocaust education center in Tokyo, Japan, marked “Hana Brady, May 16, 1931.” The center’s curator searches for clues to young Hana and her family, whose happy life in a small Czech town was turned upside down by the invasion of the Nazis. It is difficult to read this book and not be moved!
But moving is mandatory and so I shall move out of the lit zone to an inspirational quote by Peter Drucker that says that “You can either take action, or you can hang back and hope for a miracle. Miracles are great, but they are so unpredictable.”
So, here’s the action that I have taken after a decade of seeing the ravages of depression, bullying and labelling in kids and teens, alike. It gives me great pleasure to announce an initiative against stereotyping, peer pressure, bullying and negativity through an online initiative, In-Group. Agreed, these are mere baby steps, but I am hoping that it will begin a journey that will be worthwhile in the long run and reach out to those in need. The initiative is currently on Facebook and aspires to be a resource for ideas, solutions and stories that raise awareness and eventually provide support to those who need help. In-Group is also proud to be collaborating with CABCY-Singapore and it joins CABCY’s effort to raise money for an Intervention Centre for School Bullying.
This month, we are focusing on an organisation that uplifts the needy by providing jobs, Upaya.
Upaya’s mission is to create dignified jobs for the ultra poor by investing in small businesses in India’s poorest communities. Check about their projects here
That’s all for now! Keep connecting, keep believing in miracles and keep taking actions!