Research constantly concludes that strong reading skills build a solid foundation for learning in general. Dandelion Books has taken these words of wisdom and made them the heart and soul of their Chinese language program. Founder Liang Huiyu is an educator in Chinese Language and upon seeing a vacuum in reading as a home leisure activity, became inspired to launch Dandelion Books. Great pains were taken to decide what the company would be called and what resulted holds significance beyond just the name. Just like dandelion seeds which are carried by the wind and begin to build roots where they land, Huiyu’s company disseminates Seed Packs which consist of story books, activity books and other materials and resources hoping to inspire and engage both children and parents to learn more about the Chinese language and the Chinese culture.
Huiyu believes that parents who wish their children to speak Mandarin at home should begin by reading Chinese books with their children and interact and discuss the stories with them. She says, “Parents can be role models by speaking the language at home, and the most natural and authentic way to do this is to engage your children through storytelling in the language.” Each story pack is built around a unique theme, which is relevant to young children and organized according to age. For toddlers, themes revolve around interaction, movement and promote cognitive development. Pre-schoolers’ themes highlight their developmental phases including social and anger management skills.
New thematic story packs are launched monthly with a storytelling event or holiday programme. A great amount of thought, effort and emphasis is put into assembling each story pack with its main focus being a Chinese reading book curated by their team of experienced, MOE-trained educators. Instead of providing plain textbooks filled with dense information, Dandelion Books relies on detailed picture illustrations creating ample opportunities for in-depth story discussions. Post-reading activities are encouraged using either the materials provided with the Seed Packs or else through online resources on their website. In addition to accessing their thematic story packs, story telling sessions and holiday camps, parents can read their blogs about the latest story book recommendations which are available at their partnering web store Maha Yu Yi. According to Huiyu, “Children also eagerly anticipate the arrival of our story packs and love opening our packs to see the many surprises awaiting them.”
Besides providing a varied range of resources to help build a solid foundation and interest in the Chinese language, Dandelion Books also holds year round holiday camps, which are packed with tons of exciting activities, linked with their Story Packs. During these sessions, an enthusiastic team of educators will lead the students, encouraging them to explore the relevant books and materials through discussions on story line, character descriptions, and plot details. Kids are highly engaged through such active learning enabling them to absorb information more efficiently.
Dandelion Books’ holiday programmes arrive at an opportune time seeing as March holidays are upon us. Parents in search of engaging and educational camps will be especially pleased to hear that during these sessions, Dandelion Books’ team of educators not only explore the story packs but also invite authors and illustrators so that the kids can learn straight from the masters. Their upcoming holiday program (Sakura Holiday Camp: 12-15 March) is based on the theme, ‘Interests & Creativity’ where children will be encouraged to unleash their inner thoughts through stamping art, finger and hand painting and will create their very own DIY storybooks. During this process, kids will be receiving guidance on effectively expressing emotions through words and illustrations from renowned children’s book author and illustrator Lee Kow Fong (fondly known as 阿果 Ah Guo).
Moving forward, Team Dandelion is busy enhancing its reading program to include even newborns. It’s Dandelion for Tots story packs will target kids 0-4 years ensuring children’s confidence in Mandarin begins at a young age.
One thing stands clear, that regardless of whether you are local or expat, Chinese-speaking or English-speaking, Dandelion Books’ mission is to land and take root in your homes igniting interest and inspiration for the Chinese language in your hearts.