New book to help young kids make friends during pandemic

During the circuit breaker that started in April last year, Ms Chew Lee Ching noticed that young children were particularly affected as they had fewer opportunities to mix with others their age.

"My grandson was stuck at home all the time, and I was looking at the way he interacts and plays," she said, noting that some children can be a bit shy with strangers.

Ms Chew, who is the managing director at marketing communications company Mandate, had the idea of starting a book series for young children like her grandson, who is 11/2 years old.

The first book, Making New Friends With Baby King, was launched this month and is available at $19.90 in book stores such as Maha Yu Yi as well as Gardens by the Bay gift shops.

Set in Singapore to give children aged one to four a sense of familiarity, the story is about a kingfisher that lives in Gardens by the Bay and is friends with the other animals there, including an otter, turtle and frog. It was illustrated by one of Ms Chew's colleagues at Mandate.

"The story is about making new friends and teaching kids that it is fun and easy to do so. Friendship - as we go through life - is important in sustaining interaction," said Ms Chew, who is also vice-president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises' awards and special projects department.

The book is written in two languages: English and Chinese.

"Studies show that the early years are the best time for kids to learn languages. I hope it makes the little ones pick up the two languages comfortably, as well as the love for reading," said Ms Chew.

She added that she was doing this as a fun and meaningful project, rather than a venture for profit.

"Hopefully, young parents will find this a helpful resource." 

This article first appeared in The Straits Times.