Include mother tongue language books as part of baby gift pack

It is fun and enriching for children to be able to relate the illustrations in the book with actual scenes in Singapore.
It is fun and enriching for children to be able to relate the illustrations in the book with actual scenes in Singapore.PHOTO: ST FILE

As a parent of two young children, I have been a happy recipient of the National Library Board's (NLB) baby gift pack.

The books provided a wonderful introduction to the world of reading, and I thoroughly enjoy the time spent with my children reading them.

In particular, I would like to commend the decision to include books with local elements, such as I Can by Ben Lai, in the gift pack.

It is fun and enriching for children to be able to relate the illustrations in the book with actual scenes in Singapore.

However, I noticed that all the books given in the pack are in English.

Given that there has always been a strong emphasis on bilingualism in Singapore, it is important to introduce mother tongue to children at a young age, and a good way to get started is to expose them to books in their mother tongue.

Research has found mental and social benefits to bilingualism, such as building the brain's executive system, increasing focus and creativity as well as building social bonds.

Therefore, I would like to encourage NLB to consider including books in mother tongue languages as part of the baby gift pack.

Perhaps during the registration process for the gift pack, NLB can ask parents if they would prefer replacing one of the English books with a book in their mother tongue language.

Leung Chi Ching (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2019, with the headline 'Include mother tongue language books as part of baby gift pack'. Print Edition | Subscribe