My love to read must be attributed to one person - Miss Ong of QPS. She literally stuff books into me. Funnily, we had an interesting first meeting. I was in my lower primary back then and barge into HER LIBRARY in Block C. Within seconds of creating a din, I was greeted by her angry face. Instantly I disliked her. Needless to say, she gave me a good telling off. I thought that was the end of the nasty encounter with the nasty fierce teacher.

Of course I was wrong.

Miss Ong taught my eldest sister before and she remembered her. She didn't teach my second sis before but somehow she knew her and then she got to know I was the younger brother of these little nice girls. My fate was sealed. Bad time awaited me in upper primary. Miss Ong became my form teacher for 2 years. I became her (arguably) most terrible student in class. She kept me firmly under control because it was her best class. The school depended on many of my classmates to score the A-stars for PSLE. I was fortunate enough to be in that class. The friends were great, both the boys and girls. I missed the days so much. Miss Ong paid special attention to me that no teacher ever did before and after. Maybe I was the little brother of one of her memorable student, I never knew. One thing for sure, I became her memorable student even years after we graduated. I heard from friends who visited her telling me she distinctively remembered me (the naughty one) but not my best pals, which I found impossible because we were always a funny gang together.

Miss Ong shoved books to us as early as she could. We started reading about Helen Keller, Louis Braille and other commendable people. Then I read countless of Enid Blyton books under her recommendation. I began to develop a funny way of writing composition, more fictional than fiction than most teachers would expect. Miss Ong realised I had outgrown Enid Blyton and introduced the class short stories by Roald Dahl. I particularly remembered she highlighted 2 stories, <<The Landlady>> and <<The Hitchhiker>>. I did get my hands on Roald Dahl's books, which was a rarity in the library back then, including the children stories that Miss Ong initially didn't prioritised us to read. I wasn't selective, I ate up everything I could find. In 2 years under Miss Ong's training, I became a book monster.

Miss Ong was spot on in introducing Roald Dahl to me. My writing range expanded exponentially. Rapidly, I evolved from writing funny fantasy stories to funny suspense stories. After graduating, I failed to carry on the great work Miss Ong did for me. My secondary school education was a total disaster, especially in English language. I hardly read and English lessons was joke. Despite that, the foundation set by Miss Ong was adequate for me to survive all the way to university. I managed to clear examinations which required some form of expressing. I realised many of my friends did not pass subjects here and there not because of the lack of study or knowledge but their weaker skills of expressing themselves in words. That didn't really matter for many of them could express themselves so much better in speech. That is what really matters in the real working world. I have no doubts most of my university classmates are doing better than me today in their careers.

Many told me that children who grow up in Australia are much better in expressing themselves. I thought it will do them good in their working lives in future. So the idea of moving back to Singapore when Albany is old enough to attend school diminished quite a bit with time. It is a pity that teachers like Miss Ong became non-existent in Singapore. With due respect to the current batch of teachers, I know what I am talking about. You probably know too.

Many times I wondered how I could get Albany to be interested in reading like Miss Ong made us. It was an incredible gift to us. I wish I could thank Miss Ong personally. Today Jen told me to pick her up at Gosnells library after work. It was my first visit to a library since I came to Perth. I arrived before 1800 hrs and the library was almost vacant. It felt joyful to me, I think I will be visiting this place more often in future.

Hopefully Albany will love reading like her dad
I think she will


  1. If you have been reading to Albany, even during pre and/or ante natal then, you should continue to do so. This helps in building father and daughter bonding, and it's a great way to start kids on reading. When she turns two, start teaching her or send her for phonics class. Don't wait till kindy to do so.

  2. I miss those days so much .. Miss Ong is the one who help all of us..for me.. Grammar definitely..I will not forget every Sat we went back for remedial lesson..with that thick blue Primary English .. guess we completed that book..Really must thank Miss Ong for her efforts and her tolerance with us..the naughty and playful group :)


  3. Sorry, towards the end I was so drawn to Albany's cute chubbiness, that I almost missed the final sentences.

    I was not a compliant dad, so I did not make our boys read in pre-school, or the elder one in primary school now.
    We were too busy growing up, and joyfully learning from one another, to enforce such a rigid routine.

    This is supposed to be a shame, a parent not passing his reading skills to his investment portfolios… sorry, I mean precious kids.

    Look at the mess I caused today: both boys are very talkative, their rattling off in English has resulted in feedback from those around us, that they're speaking too grown-up for their age.
    Isn't that a horrid thing?

    And then that useless side effect?
    My older one seems to have an instinctive grasp of English grammar when he does his homework.
    But he did not pick it up from reading, but from his intensely garrulous nature.

    I do not make them read against their interest.
    The older one picked it up from all the text instructions, notifications and backgrounds off the TV screen / computer monitor, from his many video games of all kinds.

    So sad. *Sob*
    They're never going to be a bookworm like their father.
    But good.
    Maybe they'll do something more practical and useful in their lives.
    Like being a mechanic, technician or engineer.

    After all, they LOVE Lego.

  4. SydneyLibrarian29 June 2012 at 07:39

    Such a good post... I was captivated from the first line all the way to the end :) But maybe it's because I'm a librarian so I'm biased ;)

    I wish your former teacher could see your blog posts and your writing style - I'm sure she would be very proud of you! Continue the legacy with Albany.... read to her whenever you can, and start bringing her to the library from about 3 :) Do you know that some public libraries lend toys to children under 8 y.o.?

    My 2 nephews, when growing up here in Australia, kept their noses burrowed in books ever since they were about 5! Needless to say, they are good in English and this helps them in most of the subjects they take at school.

    I love my public library too.. so many activities for members. I hope you'll enjoy your public library as much as I do. From last count, I think I've borrowed over 1,000 books since I've arrived in Australia! (yes the library does keep a record of what I've borrowed... haha)

    Happy reading :)

  5. The more recent and renewed public library culture here in Singapore has its pleasant surprises.

    I get to enjoy issue after issue of really in-depth science fact and science fiction in the monthly Analog magazines, such that I actually have no time to read more, or just think and talk and write about the mind-boggling stories and essays.

    My family enjoys the many graphic novels (thick comic books) from DC, Marvel, and even based on the popular Halo video game.

    I'm also grateful that I can reserve and borrow latest titles, way before they hit commercial bookshelves, if ever at all, e.g. Raymond E Feist's Chaoswar fantasy novel of 2011, A Kingdom Besieged, from his bestselling Riftwar saga, and Greg Bear's latest Book 2 of a Halo Sci-fi trilogy, Primordium of 2012.

    I'm looking forward to Feist's A Crown Imperiled of 2012; I think it should be finished with processing by now, and up for reservation.
    I also hope Greg Bear's 3rd book that completes his Halo trilogy is also available, when it probably comes out next year.

  6. QPS = qiaonan primary?

    if so, you might be one of the extremely rare few from my primary school that i know of.

  7. Albany is truly beautiful and Divine.
    It reminds me the wonders and miracle of Life.

    Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
    The Soul that rises with us, our life's star,
    Hath had elsewhere its setting.
    Not in entire forgetfulness,
    And not in utter nakedness,
    But trailing clouds of Glory do we come

    At birth the journey here creates the traveller,
    the invisible becomes visible.
    At death the return journey re-creates the traveller,
    the visible becomes invisible again.

  8. Lovely final stanza/paragraph (last four lines) of your prose / freestyle poem.
    The cycle of life and death, of the in/visible, and the eternal traveller.

  9. I am from Qiaonan Pri too......if QPS happen to be Qiaonan Pri.

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