School stories #11: How #2 topped her level in English

Some friends were asking me how did #2 manage to top her level in English? Well, the answer is simple. Don’t go to a top school!

Ok, seriously, the answer IS simple, and it spells R.E.A.D.

When she was in P1, I was at a school function and a tutor in her 50s told us that for English, it was way better to get our kids to spend time reading than to do assessment books. I went back and told #2 to start reading everyday, and that was what she did. She never had any tuition for English except 3 months before the PSLE (which on hindsight I should have saved my money on as she was too set in her ways to change the way she wrote her compositions).

If you have no clue what books to let your daughters read, these were some of her favourite books when she was growing up.

  • Milly Molly Mandy series (Joyce Lankester Brisley)
  • Naughtiest Girl series (Enid Blyton)
  • Mary Poppins (P.L. Travers)
  • Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)

  • St Clare’s series (Enid Blyton)
  • Pippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren)
  • Matilda (Roald Dahl)

  • Malory Towers series (Enid Blyton)
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl)

  • Nicholas series (Goscinny & Sempe) This is a popular French classic about a schoolboy and his antics.
  • Totto-chan (Tetsuko Kuroyanagi)

  • Anne of Green Gables series (L.M. Montgomery)
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society series (Trenton Lee Stewart)
  • Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul series (Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen)


  • The Twilight Saga (Stephenie Meyer)
  • The Hunger Games series (Suzanne Collins)

By P6, she started to choose her own books and during that year, the Twilight Saga was very popular. These days they are into the Hunger Games series. I have not read either so I can’t comment on whether they are good in terms of content and values.

What about boys?

For my son, he enjoyed reading different books from his sisters. When he was younger, he liked Dr Seuss, Curious George and Roald Dahl. In P1 and P2, the only thing he read was Young Scientist and Adventure Box (ordered via his school). Now that he is in P3, he is into Geronimo Stilton, like most of his friends. Perhaps you have some good recommendations for me! Books that boys would like which have good content and language, and have some pictures.

Sane tip: Getting your kids to love reading is one of the best things you can cultivate in them. Not only are their minds being opened to new ideas, new possibilities and new worlds, but it gives you hours of silence in the house! Perfect.

Save tip: The thing about #2 was that she was happy to read and re-read her books. She must have read all these books more than 10 times each! She was also very obedient in the sense that she would read whatever book I gave her at least once, even those which she felt was boring.

When I had my first few kids, I was too busy to make trips to the library and I had the impression that the books there were sub-standard. After having more kids (and a smaller budget for books), I decided to check out the public libraries and I was so impressed! They are well-stocked with good books and I have since stopped patronising the bookshops.

Related posts:

Here’s the story of our journey into reading. When #1 was about to enter P1, she couldn’t even read 3 letter words like “cat” and “dog”. I was stunned when the other kids could read words like “wisdom”, “understand” and “praise”. Now I know better, and I read to Kate daily.

Here’s many more good tips on how to go about reading to younger children.

PSLE results: Good or bad, what do you say?
6 tips to choose a secondary school that is right for your child
My teen in a neighbourhood school
PSC Scholarship? Wow
What the PSLE is really aboutWho is behind MOE

PSLE results: A test of the parents more than the child

ECHA – The mother of all awards

School Stories:

#1 – When your son gets into fights in school
#2 – My son the loan shark
#3 – So kids can’t play once they start school?

#11 – How #2 topped her level in English
#12 – DSA. Yet another initiative parents have warped
#13 – Tuition – First line of attack?
#14 – Why do exams have to be so stressful?
#15 – First day mix up!
#16 – The day I forgot to pick my son from school
#17 – No more T-score. Now what?
#18 – Tackling the new school year
#19 – She did it, without tuition.
#20 – So who’s smarter?
#21 – Why I do not coach my kids anymore.


~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

4 Replies to “School stories #11: How #2 topped her level in English”

  1. Your number #2 sounds like my Ch! I notice they read similar books too ☺️

    As for boys, my boy is reading the Nicholas series now. He is done with the Horrid Henry series.

  2. They should meet then! I'm sure they would hit it off 🙂

    I enjoyed the Nicholas series too.. I read it to #3 when she was younger and we always had a good laugh.

  3. I topped my level in Literature in Sec 2! My glory moment, never to be repeated hence. Haha!
    But agree, I think the secret to loving any language is to read good fiction.

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