by Gan Siang Hong
A song by the popular rock band All Time Low goes, “Before you ask which way to go, remember where you’ve been.” As Singaporeans, there are many things we can do to commemorate our heritage and culture, and this is all the more relevant in the upcoming year. 2019 marks the Singapore Bicentennial: a yearlong event that encourages us to look back on Singapore’s journey and understand our roots.
Singapore’s history goes a long way back, with records originating from the late 13th century. The prospect of approaching such a vast well of history may appear daunting, but the Singapore Bicentennial Book Bundle is certainly a good place to start.
We begin our journey through the past with Legendary Tales of Singapore. This compact yet intriguing volume tells of various folktales dating back to Singapore’s very early days under the rule of Sang Nila Utama. As far as legends and fairy tales go, the stories behind the origins of our Lion City are as interesting and exciting as they come, and Zaki Ragman’s quirky art style makes the book even more fun and approachable. Definitely worth a read.
We now move on to Singapore’s age of globalisation, when Raffles first set foot onto the island. There is much to be learned and admired about the man, and there are few better sources of information than Stamford Raffles: Founder of Modern Singapore. Zhou Yimin’s well-drawn illustrations make exploring Raffles’ life an easy and enjoyable experience, and the book is a great way to understand the part Raffles played in Singapore’s rise to glory as a trading port.
Next, we delve into Singapore’s more recent past as a rapidly developing city in the 1900s. Once Upon a Singapore – Traders features various tradesmen from this period, showing us how they contributed to the socio-economic aspects of life. Alan Bay’s vividly colorful yet simple art style serves the story well, and makes readers feel right at home in 20th century Singapore. Traders most valuable lesson, however, comes from reminding us of what these tradesmen could offer that today’s industries cannot: the human condition.
Just as Singapore is not complete without its diverse multi-culturalistic social landscape, the book bundle would not be complete without Gateway to Singapore Culture. This informative title tells you everything you will need to know about Singapore’s various ethnic groups and the traditions that they hold dear. The illustrations and photos breathe life into the text, enhancing the learning experience, and who knows? Perhaps your newfound knowledge may serve as a good conversation starter.
As we go about our everyday lives, we often lose sight of how important it is to appreciate how far we have come as a society. This year, it’s time to remember where you’ve been. The Singapore Bicentennial Book Bundle is ideal for anyone who wishes to glimpse into Singapore’s past and celebrate our achievements thus far, and readers both young and old can hope to take away valuable lessons from these four rich and engaging titles.
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