Melissa Lee, is a stay-home mum and book curator at the Owl Readers Club. Flying Cape’s High Flier Series catches up with her over a casual Sunday lunch, and saw how she effortlessly juggles both roles with the support of her husband.
Describe yourself and what you do
I’m Melissa, mom of 2 kids, a boy and a girl. While I am not being a butler, a cook, a driver, a cleaner, a nurse, a housekeeper, a nutritionist, a life coach, a laundry maid, and a motivational speaker, I manage Owl Readers Club. I curate the books that appear on Owl Readers Club together with our consultant (who used to be a teacher and also has an online book store focusing on Chinese books!). Once the books have been chosen, we go through a tedious process to source them from various sources, in order to ensure that they are priced as competitively as those found in the usual international sites that sells books. In cases where we are not able to do so, we have nevertheless showcased the book but linked it to the site where one can purchase it at the most competitive price.
Is there a story behind why you do what you do?
We read to our son at a very young age and this has become a bedtime ritual for him. We have been amazed by his ability to remember stories and seemingly able to read his favourite story books (from memory of course) before he turned two. We struggled to find appropriate books for him and wished there was a place where we could easily find well written picture books for him.
We spoke to like-minded friends (some of who have become our partners and founding members of the club) and decided to embark on this adventure where we make use of technology to create a virtual club (and not just an online book store) where members can easily purchase curated books, exchange books amongst themselves and partake in various books and reading related activities.
How do you reinvent yourself? What motivates you?
Everyone around me motivates me. I constantly want to be a better mom to both my kids. So, I take time-outs. There is absolutely no guilt in time-outs, although I do at times wonder how my kids are doing with my help. I don’t have to be productive all of the time. I have a good strong support group of friends and family, who remind me and help give me that much needed space to just let go and breathe.
Share one life lesson and how it changed the way you approached life.
You will need good health, to have children. You will need good health to raise them as well. I have seen some close friends have cancer. It can happen at anytime and it can happen to anyone (myself included). So, don’t sweat the annoying and irritating things in life. Fix them calmly and move on. Count all the good in your life as well. When you do, you’ll realise that you’ve got more to be thankful for, than to sulk at the things you don’t have or things that have gone wrong.
The biggest fear/challenge you’ve faced in life so far and how you’ve overcome it.
The fear of not being to have children when I was ready. Perhaps, that taught me to treasure them more so than I would have if I had them earlier. Everything happens for a reason.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received or given?
For those who want their own children, have them earlier. You’ll be less breathless later on when they turn into energizer bunnies.
Who/what inspires you?
Our children. Parents with special needs children. Parents with more number of kids than I have. Parents who work, parents who stay home, parents who own startups.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
A couple of months back when our son was 2.5 years old, he identified the shape parallelogram correctly. I spoke to his Chinese teacher and she taught him how to say parallelogram in mandarin. It’s amazing how he can remember these terms at his age, which reaffirms our belief that it is important to read to children when they are young.
If you could turn back the clock, what would you do differently?
Probably have children earlier.
How do you hope your business might do its part to transform or add value to the educational scene in Singapore?
We hope to help cultivate the habit of reading in children as young as possible. Because we believe that “reading is the basic tool in the living of a good life”.
Everyone should read this book/ watch this video:
There are many good books out there and too many videos online. However if you are also a book loving parent like us, give us a chance and choose a picture book or two from us and read it with your little ones! Scroll to the end of this article for some book recommendations.
Tell us more about the Owl Readers Club and how can people connect with you.
We are parents who want to make life easier for fellow parents. We hope you can see the love we have for children through the club we created.
You can connect with Melissa at:
Here are a few book recommendations from Owl Readers Club to help get your children get started on their reading journey:
BEAUTIFUL OOPS! By Barney Saltzberg
A Hardcover, Lift the flap book
An award winning, best-selling, one-of-a-kind interactive book that shows young readers how every mistake is an opportunity to make something beautiful. A work of imagination, creativity, and paper engineering, “Beautiful Oops!” is filled with pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, holes, even an accordion telescope each demonstrating the magical transformation from blunder to wonder.
Some reviews provided by parents:
Mummy of 3 says: “This book is a must have and a keeper!
If i could rate it 6 stars, I would! My son loves this book because it is so interactive! It has tears, flaps, holes, pop-ups. It is engaging and fun to read to him, at the same time, also teaching him positivity – to look beyond the mistake and make the best out of the situation. One of the most interesting books i have ever seen!“
Engie says: “An Art Collage in a book
Simply gorgeous. Each page gives you something new, fresh and tactile. Most importantly it challenges what you are predicting. It teaches a great lesson on how to turn mistakes into something beautiful and a worthwhile lesson.“
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox
A Hardcover Book
“There was one little baby / who was born far away. / And another who was born / on the very next day. / And both of these babies, / as everyone knows, / had ten little fingers / and ten little toes.” No matter which part of the world a baby comes from born on the ice or in a tent that baby has ten little fingers / and ten little toes, the pleasing refrain of this wonderful, rhyming tribute to the chubby, sweet universality of babies of all colors. Helen Oxenbury’s soft, rounded babies are captured perfectly in soft, rounded watercolors.”
Some reviews provided by parents:
One mum says: “A book that makes counting fun!
Personally one of my favorite books for the readers below 1 year old and get ready for plenty of giggles!“
Another mum says: “A lovely story
This book has beautiful illustrations and what I love most is how diverse it is. It features babies of different races from different backgrounds and their common ground in having 10 fingers and 10 toes. The message is simply beautiful and one that all children ought to learn and live by; harmony in this world.“
Lost and Found By Oliver Jeffers
From the illustrator of the #1 smash hit “The Day The Crayons Quit “comes a humorously warm tale of friendship. What is a boy to do when a lost penguin shows up at his door? Find out where it comes from, of course, and return it. But the journey to the South Pole is long and difficult in the boy’s rowboat. There are storms to brave and deep, dark nights. To pass the time, the boy tells the penguin stories. Finally, they arrive. Yet instead of being happy, both are sad. That’s when the boy realizes: The penguin hadn’t been lost, it had merely been lonely. A poignant, funny, and child-friendly story about friendship lost . . . and then found again.
Some reviews provided by parents:
Mummy of 3 says: “A delightful read that teaches all about friendship
A very very sweet book! The sweetest book! Oliver Jeffers’ books are actually the household’s favourites. This book teaches the little ones about friendship. It takes an adventure before the 2 friends realise that they were meant to be together! Heartwarming story and also, who can resist an adorable penguin? I highly recommend this book.“
Lyn Lee says: “Our favourite Oliver Jeffers book
We love the winsome illustrations of this book, first and foremost. We even watched a short animated film based on this book at 8Q Singapore Art Museum during Children’s Season many years ago, and it was so heartwarming! A tale of an unlikely twosome, who realise after an adventure, that they were meant to be together. A wonderful bedtime story to be read aloud, as you savour each page!“
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