Reading Aloud With Mummy Bloggers #1: Alicia & Dumpling BeanieNUs

Posted on May 20, 2013 by My Imagination Kingdom | 0 comments

At My Imagination Kingdom, we are constantly looking to bring you fresh and relevant content that might help add some spark to the next read-aloud experience you share with your child. Today, we are really excited to reveal our new “Reading Aloud With Mummy Bloggers” series, where we invite a local mummy blogger to share with us her thoughts and personal experiences as she embarked on this amazing journey of self-discovery and bonding with her child.  

To launch this series, we are delighted to have with us Alicia, mother of four-and-a-half-year-old Dumpling, phonics instructor, homeschooler and SuperMom from BeanieNUs

Here’s a little self-introduction from our guest, Alicia


I am a reformed perfectionist and a caffeine addict based in Singapore. Having to battle post natal depression shortly after birth, I have definitely learnt that motherhood throws you the most unpredictable curve balls. I am also a working mum who homeschools my daughter (fondly known as Dumpling) in the evenings. 

I blog regularly at BeanieNUs where I pen down my parenting thoughts, share my love for food (and cooking) and my (sometimes) creative moments during our homeschool sessions

I also have a fetish for smelling Dumpling’s toes and having immense satisfaction in stealing kisses as she sleeps. :)

1. Tell us more about yourself and what you do.


I am a working mum and a caffeine addict. My day job revolves around Marketing and Corporate Communications while my evening ‘job’ is that of a homeschooling mum!

2. Tell us more about Dumpling!


Dumpling is a typical, active pre-schooler who loves the outdoors and playdates. She also has a voracious appetite for books and loves pretend play where she gets to be the “Mummy” instead. J

3. As a phonics instructor yourself and a mother who homeschools Dumpling, how important do you think reading aloud to Dumpling is in her development journey? How has it helped her?


Reading aloud is a daily activity for us and has been that way since Dumpling was less than one year old. Being a working mum, I treasure whatever time that I have, after work, with Dumpling and that is how we started reading aloud. Through the constant and consistent exposure, reading also becomes a pleasure where we have loads of fun acting out. I personally believe that this has helped create a love for books in Dumpling’s case.   


In addition to the bond, reading aloud also helps to raise phonemic awareness in children which increases their sensitivity to letter sounds. Dumpling is an early reader and started reading independently around 2 years old.      

4. When did you first start reading to Dumpling? What was your experience like when you first started?


I started reading aloud when she was less than a year old. In addition to being a phonics instructor, I am also a certified Baby Signing instructor hence as we read nursery rhyme and stories, we would often sing and sign to it.


Because I believe in the ‘play learning’ route, this was incorporated into our reading aloud sessions and Dumpling loved the ‘reading/singing’. We would also break out into dances and groove to some rhymes CD. Having said that, there were also some days when Dumpling would just walk away.

5. Did you face any challenges in keeping Dumpling engaged when you’re reading to her? What tips would you give our readers to help them become better at reading aloud to their children?


As shared above, young children do walk away because by nature, they learn by exploring at that age. That is actually very common as children this young are active and they tend to explore as they basically learn through touch, taste, sound, etc. So what I did was to read to her in an enclosed area (play yard / room) and dramatize certain parts. I’d suddenly go “wow, look at the turnip! It is huge! Look at how big it is!” More often than not, because of my tone, she’d walk over for a peep.


Gradually she began to linger around more before progressing to sitting on my lap while being read to. Some of my fondest memories are of her seated between my legs, my lips just a tad above hers where I’d plant kisses, smell her head and read on. J

6. How would you advise our readers to go about using reading to improve their child’s literacy skills? Give us 3 things they can do.


I do draw a line between ‘literacy’ and ‘reading skills’ because to me, they are vastly different. Having phonological awareness and being about to sight read do not mean that a child is able to understand the story. Literacy as a whole means much more:


  • understanding of the word(s)
  • able to apply/ use the word(s) correctly
  • understand story sequence
  • able to comprehend the plot
  • able to discuss the story
  • able to relate personal experiences / have thoughts on the story

So, I'd rather my child love books, understand the above than just being able to recognise words. And for that, truly the best tip would be to read, read and read a lot with your child. When your child hears you read daily, he is exposed to the sound of the language and the beauty of the story.


Some suggestions to make reading more fun would be:

  • Use puppets whenever you can or magnetic sets and felt scenes.
  • Extend the story by doing a craft - I did a storybox with Dumpling on the Chinese version of The Ugly Duckling to keep her             engaged.
  • Make it relatable by bringing him/her for a field trip. For e.g. you can visit a butterfly park / farm after reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. We did that and ‘grew’ our own butterfly. Dumpling got to witness the entire metamorphosis process too.



7. How do you go about picking books for Dumpling? Are there any resources or places you go to on the web for recommendations or reviews?


When Dumpling was younger, we went with well-known children’s authors such as Eric Carle, Bill Martin, etc., who provided us with great moments in the evenings. I chose these authors partly because of the bright illustrations and the easy rhymes. The book list from BFIAR is also a good way to start; many of the listed books are truly lovely titles with a great storyline and introduce good vocabulary. I do not have any specific resources / websites to go to for recommendations but I often head to Amazon to read the reviews. Additionally, you can also view the inside pages for some titles at Amazon.  


When the child is older (2 and above), you can even extend to Tot Pack activities which you can print them free-of-charge off the internet. Here’s a link for these printables. I do also look out for award winning titles such as those which are awarded Caldecott Medals. The illustrations and the storyline of those titles are usually beautiful and a pleasurable read.


8. Since you homeschool Dumpling, do you try to pick books for Dumpling that fit into your teaching curriculum for her? If so, can you list some examples of how you have done that?  


When she was younger, we went through the BFIAR list so I would reserve the books via the National Library Board website and pick them up at a later convenience. Sometimes we would also explore a particular title if that month is the author’s birthday month – for e.g. in March last year, we explored Green Eggs and Ham and Lorax.  Other times we would also work around a field trip: here we did an air transport theme in-line with the Singapore Air Show.


9. You’re a fantastic example of a Super Mom! What with a full-time job, an active blog and homeschooling Dumpling, how do you find the time to read to Dumpling? Is there any routine that you have worked out to fit reading into?


Thank you for the kind words! If you can only see how disorganised I am at times, you would not call me a Super Mom! LOL. I homeschool Dumpling every evening from 7+pm. We target to read an English and a Chinese title every evening. When she was younger, we would extend to craft and using printable packs. Now that she is older, after reading the title, I will usually work with her on Creative Expression which sometimes includes a bit of writing or extend into some simple Science experiments (we love Science and titles from The Magic School Bus series is a delight).


I hardly go out on weekday nights because homeschooling is a choice that we make and this is a commitment that I seek to meet. Instead I meet my friends over lunch and mummy friends for weekend playdates.


10. Finally, despite all the efforts and time that is needed to make reading to Dumpling a regular activity, we know it must be a rewarding experience for you nevertheless. What do you enjoy most about reading to Dumpling?


I count my blessings daily that we are able to homeschool. There are sacrifices to be made and there are ‘tough days’ too when nothing seems to go according to plans. But I do consider it a privilege. The “togetherness” during the reading time that we have is beautiful. Being ‘present’ and being able to be part of her learning process is a gift. I am often humbled when I am able to witness the wonderment in her eyes when she manages to uncover a new discovery and encouraged by her squeals of delight and hugs. 

Thank you Alicia! For sharing with us your reading aloud journey with Dumpling! For all of you out there who are interested in finding out more about Alicia and her blog, visit BeanieNUs! In the meanwhile, stay tuned for our next interview with Winnie from Toddly Mummy! 

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May New Arrivals!

Posted on May 15, 2013 by My Imagination Kingdom | 0 comments

We have refreshed our collection of books for children aged 2+ and 3+! There's a wonderful variety of picture books by authors like Caryl Hart and Julia Jarman. Enjoy!

Scroll through and click on the book's title to find out more about each book.

Books for Children Aged 1+

From tiny ants to enormous elephants, there’s a kiss for everyone in this warm and cozy feel-good book. Find out if worms kiss underground, with the soil all around, or if fish kiss with a splash and a splish.

From tiny ants to enormous elephants, there’s a kiss for everyone in this warm and cozy feel-good book. Find out if worms kiss underground, with the soil all around, or if fish kiss with a splash and a splish. With an irresistible text that begs to be read aloud and adorable illustrations, parents and grandparents will love sharing this collection of affection with the youngest of readers.



Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins is a witty and enchanting book and this sturdy board book version makes it ideal for babies and young toddlers. Rosie the hen explores the farmyard oblivious to the fact that she's being followed by a hungry fox. Toddlers will love predicting the disasters as the fox gets into a series of scrapes. With stunning and original illustrations, this is a gorgeous board book to share with babies and toddlers from 1+.

Books for Children Aged 2+

Story-time will be eagerly anticipated when you read this wonderful lullaby picture book, populated with a rich cast of animals, from rabbits and bears to owls and seals, as every parent and child prepares for a safe night's sleep. With boundless energy, the text takes a ride through a night-time of possibilities as stormy weather assails the characters. Each fearful moment is calmly laid aside with warm cuddles and sweet caresses of reassurance. Combining soothing text that gently addresses bedtime fears with adorable art that will be familiar to Debi's many fans, this picture book will become a firm family favourite along with hot milk and bedtime kisses.
A very little rabbit has big fears - lots of them! The teeth of the giant wood troll, the gobbler blowing bubbles at the bottom of the pond, the horrible hisster weaving its web - Pip sees scary things wherever he looks. But one dark night in the wild wood, he hears a terrifying Raaarr and discovers the Scariest Thing of All . . .

Toot toot! Hold tight! Ben and Bella are off on another adventure! This time with the Big Blue Train! They set off for the seaside, with various animal friends jumping, leaping and squashing aboard along the way, but will everyone manage to squeeze on, and just why is everyone heading for the seaside? A brilliant second title from Julia and Adrian, the team that brought you the bright and bouncy award-winning Big Red Bath.

Ben and Bella are off on another adventure and, of course, all the animals want to join them! The destination this time is Australia, and the digger digs and judders, as Moose, Zebra, Rhinoceros, Mole and lots of other animals all clamber on. Even Little Roo jumps up, and gets delivered safely back to his his mummy. Everyone stops for a barbie, a dance with the digeridoo, and then it's time to head for home again. Join the fun on an adventure that gets better and better!

In a cave in the woods,

in his deep, dark lair,

through the long, cold winter

sleeps a great brown bear.

Fish come from all over the ocean to see Puffy the Puffer Fish's amazing bubbles. Big bubbles, small bubbles, square bubbles ...they've never seen anything quite so amazing, that is until Barry arrives on the scene. Barry is a fish with fingers and he's going to put them to good use. The fish are amazed. Life under the sea will never be the same again ...

It's great fun having a new baby brother, right? Well, not for Gilbert the Great White Shark. His new baby brother, Finn, is too small to join in with any games and is no fun at all. So when Gilbert's friend Mallett suggests a game of skating, Gilbert decides to leave Finn alone and join in. But what a mistake! Soon an enormous orca appears and it has Finn in its sight. Can Gilbert reach Finn in time to save him from the jaws of the orca. An exciting third book in the Gilbert series where Gilbert discovers that being a big brother can sometimes be fun after all.

William and the Night Train is just the ticket for bedtime reading when you're keen to settle a restless youngster! William is wide awake and far too excited to sleep, he's so looking forward to tomorrow, but Mum has a clever solution up her sleeve...With dreamy illustrations by Alison Jay and a spellbinding story by Mij Kelly, William and the Night Train is a first-class bedtime tale!

Books for Children Aged 3+

Ben and Bella are having such a lovely, splashy time in the big red bath that soon everyone wants to join in the fun! But will there be room for all the animals . . . even Hippopotamus? A riotous story - brought to life by young, bright, friendly illustrations from a bestselling, award-winning artist.

What do you get when a little monkey grows bored? A giant mess of squashed figs, a bounced-on bed...and a very cross Big Monkey! But although Big Monkey doesn't always like Little Monkey's behaviour, one thing is clear: Big Monkey never stops loving Little Monkey. Katharine McEwen's warm, exuberant illustrations bring this delightful story to life, creating a perfect book for parents to share with their own naughty little monkeys.

Albie is a normal little boy who has extraordinary adventures. When he helps his mum in the garden by planting some seeds, he can't quite believe his eyes the next morning. The garden has grown beyond all belief and these are not just any old plants - oh, no - Albie's seeds have grown into great big jurassic jungle! He rushes outside to discover what else has grown - a fantastic mix of real live DINOSAURS! A colourful, funny follow-up to Supermarket Zoo.

Every little boy knows that going shopping with Mum is the most boring thing in the world. But for little Albie, one trip to the supermarket opens a whole new world of fun! Because this isn't just any supermarket - it's the supermarket zoo - and with a whole trolley full of animals on his list, Albie will never see shopping the same way again.

When a family-load of boisterous, bumbling dragons burst into peaceful Poppledown Town, there's sure to be trouble! Before long, the whole town is thrown into chaos. The local market is turned upside down, the library is louder than ever and the local playgroup has never experienced such disruptive pupils! Will Poppledown Town EVER be the same again?

Biff is not like ordinary dogs. He doesn't do dog stuff like peeing on lampposts, scratching his fleas or drinking out of toilets. If you throw him a stick, he'll just look at you like you're crazy. No, Biff is no ordinary dog. Biff likes moonlight and music and walking on his tiptoes. You see, Biff doesn't think he's a dog, Biff thinks he's a ballerina, which is all very well ...But dogs don't do ballet - do they? The hilarious story of a small dog with a big personality and even bigger dreams!

One hot summer in Itching Down, Four million wasps flew into town ... and so begins this laugh-out-loud picture-book classic. If you've never come across the bouncy rhyming verses and zany humour of The Giant Jam Sandwich, then now's your chance to catch up! When four million wasps invade Itching Down, the villagers come up with a crazy and imaginative solution to get rid of them. Can they make their ambitious plan work, or will they come to a sticky end? Don't miss this timeless treat!

A voracious guest makes a surprise visit in this ferociously popular tale, first published more than forty years ago.


When the doorbell rings unexpectedly one afternoon, Sophie and her mummy can’t imagine who might be there. Much to their surprise, a tiger with a very large appetite has come to tea! What will they tell Daddy when he returns home and finds all the cupboards bare? First published in 1968, this classic and whimsical picture book from beloved children’s author and illustrator Judith Kerr is a delightful (and delicious!) story about the best way to entertain an unexpected houseguest, even when that guest just so happens to be a tiger.

Chaos ensues when a young boy gets his kite stuck up a tree in this laugh-out-loud new picture book from award-winning, internationally best-selling author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers! Floyd gets his kite stuck up a tree. He throws up his shoe to shift it, but that gets stuck too. So he throws up his other shoe and that got stuck, along with...a ladder, a pot of paint, the kitchen sink, an orang-utan and a whale, amongst other things! Will Floyd ever get his kite back? A hilarious book with a wonderful surprise ending.

Books for Children Aged 4+

The world is populated by some beastly dragons who care nothing for how much they pollute the oceans, chop down the trees, gobble up all the food and use everything up without stopping to think. Those dragons need to wake up to what they are doing to their world before it is too late ...An energy-filled picture book that addresses concerns about the environment in the most child-centric and delightful way possible.

It's a totally zany story with some of the silliest illustrations to appear in many seasons--which is to say that Aliens Love Underpants will be a surefire hit among toddlers and beginning readers. When little aliens fly down to Earth, they don't come to visit because they want to meet the Earthlings. They simply want to steal everybody's underpants! They like them large or small, they like them red or green--and they like them in all other sizes and colors, too. They think that Mom's pink, frilly panties are a perfect place to hide. And Grandpa's woolly long johns make a super-whizzy slide! The text is in verse, the illustrations are big and bright, and kids who open this book will giggle from first page to last.

From the creator of The Gruffalo comes a witty and noisy picture book that is perfect for parents who love practising their farmyard impressions. What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson has a bouncy, rhyming text and tiny glittering ladybirds to spot on each page. The noisy animals give plenty of opportunities for parents and toddlers to moo, baa and cluck to their hearts' content.

Best-selling author and illustrator team Janet and Allan Ahlberg will capture your child's imagination with The Jolly Postman's familiar faces and intriguing back stories! There's a letter of apology for the three bears from Goldilocks, a postcard from Jack for the giant, a solicitor's letter on behalf of Little Red Riding-Hood for the wolf who ate grandma, and more! Fans of the Ahlberg's Each Peach Pear Plum will love this.

Books for Children Aged 5+

Eleven favourite tales from the Old Testament brought to life in Marcia Williams' vivid comic-strip style.

In the beginning there was only God … then he started creating! The last and most troublesome of all his creations were men and women. God was forever having to give them a helping hand, as these brilliant stories reveal. Read all about the adventures of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Noah and his ark, Joseph and his fabulous robe, David and Goliath, and many more.

Books for Children Aged 6+

"Even reluctant readers (let alone closet classicists) will be drawn to pore over these entrancing pages. -School Library Journal

Greek myths are among the most exciting stories ever told. In this collection, Marcia Williams offers a fun but faithful retelling of eight myths using simple language and her signature comic-strip format. Panels and spreads brimming with color, decorative detail, and nonstop action make each tale a pleasure to look at, and speech bubbles add modern humor. This indispensable collection is the perfect way to introduce young readers to the power of myth.

Books for Children Aged 7+

Charlotte's Web is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur—and of Wilbur's dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn.

With the help of Templeton, the rat who never did anything for anybody unless there was something in it for him, and by a wonderfully clever plan of her own, Charlotte saved the life of Wilbur, who by this time had grown up to quite a pig.

How all this comes about is Mr. White's story. It is a story of the magic of childhood on the farm.

Books for Children Aged 8-9

Seven classic Shakespeare plays are presented in an accessible comic strip format. The Globe Theatre is delighted to announce a new season of Mr. William Shakespeare's plays! Prithee take your place once more for a performance of seven of the Bard's finest tales. See "As You Like It", "Antony and Cleopatra", "Richard III", "Twelfth Night", "King Lear", "The Merchant of Venice" and "Much Ado About Nothing" - each brilliantly presented in dramatic comic-strip form, including Mr Shakespeare's own dialogue and the riotous remarks of the audience. Bravo! Reissued with a new cover look, this brings Marcia Williams' dramatic take on Shakespeare right up-to-date for a modern audience.

"The Iliad" tells the story of the war between Greeks and Trojans; the love between Helena and Paris; Achilles and Hector's deadly combat; and the Trojan Horse. "The Odyssey" depicts the perilous voyage home of the Greek warrior Odysseus; his struggles against the one-eyed Cyclops; the terrible Sirens; the dreadful, six-headed Scylla. These classic Greek stories have been retold with lively text and a dramatic cartoon style, making them accessible and fun for young children.

Books for Children Aged 10-12

Travel back to Medieval England and join Chaucer and his band of Canterbury pilgrims in this wonderful introduction to one of Britain's greatest literary legacies. These nine well-loved tales, from a host of colourful characters - the Knight, the Miller, the Reeve, the Wife of Bath, the Summoner, the Clerk, the Franklin, the Pardoner and the Nun's Priest - are brought to life with Marcia Williams' trademark witty, comic-strip art, allowing this classic text to be enjoyed by all ages.

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