Bring Me a Book Hong (BMABHK) Launches Find Me a Book, the World's First Bi-Lingual Site for Children's Books, Just in Time For Earth Day!
Bring Me a Book Hong (BMABHK) Launches Find Me a Book, the World’s First Bi-lingual Site for Children’s Books, Just in Time For Earth Day!
Reading aloud together with your children each day can help guide them to becoming more empathetic and thoughtful with their words and actions towards others and the planet.
There are many important topics that we need to read about and discuss with our children, especially in the world we live in today. One such issue is that of the impact of climate change and environmental stewardship.
With that in mind, we spoke with Michelle Jungmin Bang who is no stranger to making a positive impact on the environment and the people around her through her passion about sustainability and impact-related initiatives.
As the co-founder of The R Collective, a multi-awarding winning sustainable fashion brand, she is also a board member who chairs the book selection committee of the literacy and child development charity Bring Me a Book Hong Kong.
In honour of Earth Day 2021 (April 22nd), Michelle shared with us some of her family’s favourite environmental-focused books that are available on the Bring Me a Book Hong Kong’s (BMABHK) new microsite, Find Me a Book, what brought her to BMABHK, how we can use books to start conversations and engage with our children about important issues of the day through books, and how Retyklers can get involved.
Q: Tell us about Bring Me a Book Hong Kong (BMABHK) and your role with the organisation.
Michelle: BMABHK is the leading advocate for family literacy and child development in Hong Kong. Their work is driven by the extremely low rates of reading interest here. According to the latest research, Hong Kong Primary 4 children rank the lowest in the world in terms of confidence, interest, and motivation to read. Since its founding in 2006, BMABHK has provided research-based programs, parent workshops, and thought leadership on holistic child development focused on family bonding, empathy, and brain development. BMABHK’s award-winning workshops empower parents and educators to use quality children’s books as a tool for conversational reading and character building, ultimately with the goal of raising empathetic, inquiring, and engaged leaders of tomorrow who will make a positive difference in our world.
At BMABHK, I am a Board Member where I have gotten actively involved in shaping strategy in a variety of ways such as marketing, communications, fundraising, programs, and future initiatives. I am also the Chair of the Book Selection Committee where we ideated and launched our latest initiative, Find Me a Book.
Q: Tell us about Find Me a Book, the world's first bilingual site for recommended books in English and Chinese.
Michelle: Find Me a Book is a free, user-friendly digital site with curated books covering the most important topics of our time. Titles include those for newborns all the way through the teenage years, as well as extremely helpful parenting titles. The books are researched and thoughtfully selected by an incredible range of talented individuals, including librarians, literacy specialists, as well as experts on holistic education, special needs, diversity, and inclusion. Every season, we release more than 100 new English and Chinese book recommendations, carefully reviewed by our team.
We would not have been able to realise this vision for Find Me a Book without funding from the 2020 HSBC Hong Kong Community Partnership Program, and our team of dedicated individuals at BMABHK, our book selection committee, and our wide range of volunteers committed to activating various pieces of our site. It has been so fun to engage with so many individuals who have a shared passion for children’s books and to make an impact on changing the reading culture here to support BMABHK’s mission.
We have had a wonderful response so far to Find Me a Book, with more interest in BMABHK’s work, including new collaborations with public libraries and schools across Hong Kong. In the first 30 days of our soft launch, we were excited to see that we had already garnered 12,000 views and 2,200 visitors.
Q: What does BMABHK hope to achieve with Find Me a Book?
Michelle: The site came about in trying to determine how we could best meet the reading needs of the children in our Hong Kong community, regardless of income level. And it made sense given today’s increasing use of virtual learning environments and climate change issues to make this an environmentally friendly, digital initiative, which removed previous paper-based programs.
Each of our books has a link to the Hong Kong Public Library and to book stores. So, on the one hand, you can borrow them and you can also purchase the books from our partners, like Book Depository and Open House. These partnerships allow BMABHK to receive a percentage of proceeds to support its mission.
Find Me a Book also fills a gap in the market. It’s the world’s first bi-lingual site for recommended children’s books in English and Chinese with a purposeful focus to help parents and educators find books specifically tailored to engage in conversations gearing towards positive child development. For each book title, we have a user-friendly table, which contains hyperlinks (out of more than 100 possible tags) to help site users with an intentional book search.
Q: How can parents use books to spark conversations about making a difference when it comes to the environment and well as when embracing and advocating for more diversity?
Michelle: Not everyone knows this but parents can engage in book conversations starting from the day their child is born. Hearing stories and seeing pictures that connote how we as parents impart our values to our children is predicated on selecting high-quality books - with written language and imagery, which will expose them to ideas that will mold them into amazing human beings. These values can include our perspectives on nurturing our environment as well as embracing and advocating for more diversity and inclusion in our society. Parents can look for books – with pictures and words – that open the gateway for these types of conversations. This includes books where children can not only recognise themselves visually and relate to shared experiences but also show them different perspectives that engender empathy and understanding around different cultures, different life experiences, and a worldview of today’s increasingly complex challenges. We try to make finding these quality books easier by doing the hard work for you, in collaboration with experts.
Retyklers can find out more about BMABHK’s thoughts on supporting the reading journey through the childhood years here.
Q: Your children are avid readers who use the Find Me a Book site as well. What are some of the books on the environment that your you and family would recommend?
Michelle: Our family’s favourite new book on the environment is “We Are the Water Protectors” by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade - both Native Americans who were inspired to collaborate on a story about The Standing Rock Sioux’s tribe protection of their land and water against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The book has a lyrical chorus that repeats throughout, alluding to the drum and music culture of indigenous culture. The DAPL is brilliantly encapsulated by the black snake, an allegory for the tunnels of environmental destruction that is currently happening.
My children love finding the watermarked illustrations of nature and animals that are hidden in unexpected places within the book. And there is a pledge at the end of the book for children to sign and to start their young minds oriented around activism.
Find Me a Book has a library of incredible environment books, which increase in breadth with each seasonal launch. Here is a selection of book titles that we currently have on our site:
- We Are Water Protectors, written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade
- One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey, written and illustrated by Henry Cole
- The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest, written and illustrated by Lynne Cherry
- Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
- Song for a Whale, written by Lynne Kelly
- How to Bee, written by Bren MacDibble
- My Friends, written and illustrated by Taro Gomi
Pop-Up Ocean, written and illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius
Q: How can Retyklers get involved?
Michelle: Use the Find Me a Book site in the link below!
You can also subscribe to the BMABHK newsletter at the link below, and Retyklers can stay up to date with Find Me a Book seasonal book releases, and other BMABHK updates around workshops, virtual read-alouds, discussions with our visiting guest authors, illustrators and child development experts, and ways for students to engage with our young Ambassadors program and Junior Staff Readers program.
And lastly, if Retyklers want to be a part of this new initiative for BMABHK, let us know! We have a great fun group of children’s book lovers working with us. And we would love to work with even more individuals to continue improving our site.
Connect with BMABHK:
· Find Me a Book search site
· BMABHK newsletter and charity site
Happy Earth Day, Retyklers!