Interview with Janice Koh on encouraging children’s reading habits

Janice Koh, stage and television actress, knows a thing or two about getting kids to read. Her two sons Max and Lucas, 10 and 12, are avid readers and would read before going to bed.

Janice believes that having a routine of reading to kids from an early age helps develop a habit and love of reading in children. She started reading to her sons before bedtime since they were babies and now they are independent readers.

Based on her own experience, Janice tells how she encourages her children to read a wider variety of books, how to develop a reading habit in the little ones and how parents have a role in helping develop their children’s imagination.


Janice Koh and her son at Imagine | Native.
Janice Koh and her son Lucas at Imagine | Native.

How do you encourage your children to read different books?

In our house, we encourage our kids to read as widely and as diversely as possible. That said, I find that children tend to gravitate towards stories that they like. It’s great that they have their own taste but once in a while, I would nudge them towards a new author or a new title, in order to expand their ‘diet’.

Whenever I find that they are resistant to something new, I try to read aloud the first couple of chapters with them just to get them started. Most of the time, they end up reading the whole book.

My only regret is not putting in enough effort to read from Chinese storybooks, which would have encouraged a stronger interest in the language.

What’s your number one tip for developing a reading habit in children?

I think developing a regular routine of reading to kids from an early age can go a long way in nurturing a love for stories and a curiosity for learning.

Some working parents might say that they don’t have the time. But, honestly, it doesn’t have to take more than 15 minutes to share a story with your child. Rather than spending that pocket of time watching television or asking them to do more pages of an assessment book, why not cuddle in bed a little earlier than usual to read together? I’ve always found this quiet reading time to be one of the most precious moments in my day.

Children are also great imitators. If they see the adults around them reading, they will be motivated to pick up a book too. We have to learn to unplug and read instead.

How do you think parents can cultivate creativity in their children?

I don’t know if I have the answer to that question! As far as I know, play is a very important part of a child’s exploration of the world around them, and it can be a simple yet vital way of firing up their imagination.

We live in a time where kids are overly scheduled–with extra curricular activities, enrichment classes and tuition. Creativity cannot be learnt from textbooks. It’s a tall order to put our children through a rigorous or regimented academic environment from a young age and expect them to be innovative, imaginative and creative adults later.

Let’s be honest. Being creative means having permission to fool around, to experiment, and also to fail. As parents, do we have the patience and mindset to take the long-term view and encourage a more adventurous approach to learning?

Why did you decide to support Imagine | Native?

For me, any initiative to nurture a love of books and reading is an initiative worth supporting. A kid who loves to read is a kid who has the key to a treasure trove of knowledge and experience, and his or her own imagination. It enlarges their universe.

An event like Imagine | Native helps to bring families and children together through the world of stories in a fun way, and it might encourage our young ones to pick up a book or two, and hopefully, fall in love with reading. And once you catch the bug, you’re hooked for life!

Bring the kids to Imagine | Native

Did you know that Janice played the role of the mother of the titular character in the television adaptation of  Singapore children’s book  series “The Diary of Amos Lee“?

The illustrator of the series, Stephanie Wong, will be leading two art jamming sessions (2.55pm and 3:35pm) on 12 June at Imagine | Native. The educational fair ends on 12 June, you’ll find local and international authors and illustrators there for book signing, illustration workshops, storytelling sessions and more.

Get your tickets to Imagine | Native

Fire up your children’s creativity by bringing them to Imagine | Native. Join the creativity workshops and book signing events by local authors and illustrators, and other fun activities.

-Adult One-Day Pass S$5 (inclusive of 1 x $5 Imagine | Native Voucher)

-Child (ages 4 to 12) One-Day Pass S$3 (Inclusive of 1 x Free Goody Bag)

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S.E.A. Aquarium / Imagine | Native Promotion

Adult Bundle @ S$34
-One S.E.A. Aquarium Adult One-Day Pass
-One Imagine | Native Adult Admission Ticket
-Four S$5 Educational Fair Vouchers

Child Bundle @ S$18
-One S.E.A. Aquarium Child One-Day Pass
-One Imagine | Native Child Admission Ticket
-One Free Goody Bag for Child

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Adventure Cove Waterpark / Imagine | Native Promotion

Adult Bundle @ S$35
-One Adventure Cove Waterpark Adult One-Day Pass
-One Imagine | Native Adult Admission Ticket
-Four S$5 Educational Fair Vouchers

Child Bundle @ S$25
-One Adventure Cove Waterpark Child One-Day Pass
-One Imagine | Native Child Admission Ticket
-One Free Goody Bag for Child

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Maybank Special: Imagine | Native Promotion

For Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Brunei Cardholders Only
-Buy 2 Adult Imagine | Native Admission Passes and get 1 Admission Pass free

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