Inspired by the way books changed her life, Jacqueline Ng, decided to make it her life’s mission to give every child access to books and the joy of reading. She knew that if there was one thing she could change in this world, it would be this.
“Growing up, my parents only read Chinese newspapers, and I was never exposed to any form of leisure reading or books other than my school textbooks. Therefore, my general knowledge was very limited, and I could not imagine and express myself creatively, nor was I confident in composing well in English. I never knew such books existed until one day when I was 14-years-old, a friend of mine shared her Sydney Sheldon book, and that was it! I was transformed and fell in love with the books and how they can empower you on so many levels,” shares Jacqueline Ng, the co-founder of BOOKXCESS and Big Bad Wolf Books.
“I was so inspired and motivated by how the power of a book can change one’s life, and I told myself that no child should be deprived of having access to books and the joys of reading. That’s why we deliberately made an effort to ensure that the books offered at the Big Bad Wolf Books would be very-very affordable at 90% of the recommended retail prices so that parents could buy these books for their children,” adds Ng.
The literary pioneer spoke exclusively to theAsianparent about the transformational power of books, the joy of reading, and their importance in a child’s life.
Joy Of Reading: A Novel Concept For The Novel World
Started with the aim to increase English literacy and advocate the importance of reading–Jacqueline Ng along with Andrew Yap, launched Big Bad Wolf Books in 2009.
Their only mission was to offer easy access to affordable books to everybody and to encourage a joy of reading. They envisioned to do this through an event that would attract book lovers who would in turn, bring their non-reader friends or family members and “inevitability be exposed to books that will trigger the need to read due to the low prices,” as Ng puts it.
To date, Big Bad Wolf Books has toured over 12 countries and 34 cities with over 25 Million books sold. “We are on a path that aims to create, inspire, and, more importantly, empower people through reading. Our focus for 2021 is to expand to other regions within the UAE, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Saudi and Africa,” says the literary pioneer.
Their concept is novel and encourages families and book lovers at large to try their hand at reading—at a cost much lower than is available in the market.
“We offer books at low prices by taking the effort to source for quality books directly from the UK and US publishers and offering it between 50% to 90% of the recommended retail price,” explains Ng.
This concept is especially novel for parents who wish to encourage their kids to start reading early. And not just on gadgets but actual printed books.
The Power Of The Printed Word Is Indescribable
Ng says that she is aware of how introduction of gadgets affects children and young, alike. “Studies have shown that early exposure to digital devices has a negative impact on how they interact and develop their social habits,” she says.
However, she says that there is an upward trend of wanting to read via physical books. “There is too much noise and distraction on social media,” she says, adding that the printed word is still a formidable force to reckon with and can negate this noise.
“Digital books or online reading is a convenient form of reading. It’s no doubt fast and easily accessible. But it can never replace a physical book as a reader will always prefer a hardbound book because one can ‘connect’ by the feel, the touch and how the senses are transformed merely by holding and flipping through the pages of a book …the power of a printed word is indescribable!” says Ng.
Kids’ capacity to absorb information is enormous
Talking about encouraging young kids to read, she says that we often undermine a child’s fast developing mind. Take for instance, how a baby or toddler is able to process information by simply flipping through a book and identify things.
“I’ll give you an example of my nephew, his speech development was rather late (he was almost three-years-old). But by having books around him, he could flip through the pages for hours, and by the age of four, he could read a book,” she exclaims.
Ng adds, “A Chinese speaking parent who bought her kids’ books and just left these books at home because she was a working mum like most parents. She had no time to read to her children. Her four-year-old son [who is in a Chinese-ed school] self-taught how to read English and has since scored higher in English compared to Chinese, even though he lives in a 100% Chinese speaking family. This shows that having accessibility to books around is a handy and powerful tool for a child.”
She says that kids develop a keen interest in various topics like space, geography, and/or animals and “the capacity to absorb information is enormous.”
Which is why she recommends that parents should encourage them to explore the joy of reading, from quite early on.
Start Young And Let Kids Enjoy The Wonders Of A Book
“Start at a young age. When they are babies, introduce them to books by reading to them, they will naturally gravitate towards books as they grow up. It becomes a habit. For teenagers, it’s a much harder habit to inculcate and cannot be forced upon. Instead, allow them to explore the topics or subjects that may be of interest to them and get them those genres of books,” Ng advises.
“For children, show them books that are close to what they like and are interested in, such as cars, Disney-related characters, or animation, which may lead them to read because of their interest and slowly transform them into avid readers in the future,” she says.
As for book recommendations, Ng lists a few of her top picks.
Books You Can Pick Up To Encourage Kids To Start Reading Early
“The Montessori series is a good start; board books and cloth books for toddlers; Magical Books (using AR technology) where a book comes to life for an immersive and enhanced reading experience of which we are the exclusive distributor in Asia,” Ng advises.
“For the Young Adults genre: authors such as Rick Riordan, Cassandra Clare, Jenny Han, Harry Potter series – are some of the more popular books,” she adds.
No matter which book you pick or when you choose to introduce it to your kids, for Jacqueline Ng, it’s the joy of reading that matters the most. Which is exactly what Ng along with Yap are doing through Big Bad Wolf Books.
“When books are made affordable and easily accessible to everyone to enjoy, regardless of ones’ stature, it changes one’s world! We truly believe in: Changing the World, One Book at a Time!,” she signs off.