Flip for Joy - Interview with Jiang Meiru

When I first heard about Flip for Joy and the story behind it, I was both in awe of Meiru's vision and determination, and relieved that I finally have a dependable source to go to for children's Chinese books.

I decided then that I didn't want to simply share about the awesome books that her website carries, but also the story and face behind its creation. I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Jiang Meiru is a mother of a 3-year-old boy and the owner of Flip for Joy 乐翻天, an online bookstore that features a range of selected Chinese books for children. A former Chinese teacher in a Junior College, Meiru started this store as a way to bring good quality books to children, pursuing her passion for educating the young in the Chinese language.

Flip for Joy 乐翻天 is such a happy name. Could you share with us what exactly Flip for Joy is about and how was its name chosen?
"We just want the best for our kids. This applies to teaching them the Chinese language too."

This was the basis of how Flip for Joy was formed. I started the bookstore with a good friend of mine. We both enjoy and believe in reading to our children. While it was easy to find a wide variety and selection of English books, high quality Chinese books that were engaging, fun, and will interest our children didn't seem as easily accessible. I started looking internationally and bought quality titles for ourselves. Over time, friends started asking me to purchase books for them too! Thanks to their encouragement, we decided to take a leap of faith and start Flip for Joy, so as to share the excellent selection with more people. 

I was previously teaching Chinese language in a junior college but was diagnosed with a locally aggressive tumour when my son turned 5 months. The rare cancer was caused by pregnancy hormones that went wrong and I had to undergo an extensive surgery and radiotherapy. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I decided to become a stay-home mum to recuperate and spend time nurturing my 3 year old. Now, I am an aspiring mum-preneur. Flip for Joy allows me to continue pursuing my passion for educating our young in the Chinese language.

It's such a joy to read and reading Chinese books can be just as delightful. So "Flip for Joy 乐翻天 " just popped into my head almost right away, followed by the taglines "Flip a page, Flip for Joy" and "翻一篇,乐翻天"! 

That is inspiring, Meiru! I am encouraged by you. Could you share how do you go about selecting books for Flip for Joy?
Flip for Joy's book selection is good enough for my own child! Being trained in the teaching of the Chinese language, I have high expectations when it comes to educational resources and I'm very passionate about teaching the Chinese language to my child. A lot of time and effort have been spent on searching for books that are fun, exciting and engaging. I'll always try reading the books with my 3 year old before writing the synopsis and recommendations in both Chinese and English so as to help parents who have difficulty reading in Chinese. Many of our books are bestsellers and award-winning titles loved by children worldwide. You can find popular children's titles like Dear Zoo, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See and The Giving Tree in our bookstore and our children can now get to enjoy these classics in the Chinese language or even in both languages!

We have categorized our books into 3 main categories: Flip for FUN, KNOWLEDGE, LOVE:
Flip for FUN books are highly interactive and a whole lot of fun!
Flip for KNOWLEDGE are insightful and have rich elements of story-telling.
Flip for LOVE books help children love the important values in life.

We have also put together Flip Flip Hooray Starter Packs for ages 0-3, 3-5 and 5-7 for parents who want help with selecting books. Each pack will have at least 1 book from each of the 3 categories to provide variety for hours of quality reading. We even provide hanyu pinyin on a separate document for certain popular titles just so more parents and their little ones can enjoy them! 

Having hanyu pinyin certainly helps me read to my girls! What are some tips you can share with parents like myself, to help us interest our children in Chinese books? 
As Emile Buchwald said: "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." Make a commitment to read regularly to your children and enjoy the bonding in the process. Get other family members involved too. Reading aloud allows you to share the various emotions experienced in the book with your little ones and reading it expressively makes it captivating and engaging! 

Start off by getting books with themes that your child is interested in eg. animals, vehicles. If your child enjoys hands-on activities, choose books with interactive elements such as stickers, lift the flaps and pull outs. 

If your child is reluctant to read Chinese books, you can consider getting Chinese or bilingual versions of the English books that they enjoy (eg. Dear Zoo, The Hungry Caterpillar, Press Here), or get books by authors that they like (eg. Eric Carle, Karen Katz). The familiarity will make the idea of reading Chinese books more welcoming and give them confidence when they understand the stories. 

After reading a particular book, parents can try to seize teachable moments to relate to the content of the book and even design activities to complement the book eg. Visiting the zoo after reading Dear Zoo and refer to the animals in Mandarin or making a caterpillar art piece (such as a hand puppet) and animate the story again.  

These are useful tips, thank you! How have your customers responded to Flip for Joy's books? We like to hear what other parents think! 
We are very encouraged and thankful for the positive feedback from our customers. Many parents said that they had a tough time looking for quality Chinese books, while some had no idea how to choose appropriate books for their children. 

Some parents also shared that their children were only interested in English books and barely touched the Chinese ones they had. Books from Flip for Joy on the other hand, not only managed to capture their children's attention, but to engage them!

We've also responded to special requests and delivered books to customers in Australia, US, UK, Thailand and Hong Kong. They were so grateful that their children can be exposed to the Chinese language through Flip for Joy books even though they are far away from home. 

It is great to know that you have fans from abroad too! What plans do you have for Flip for Joy in the upcoming year? What we can look forward to? 
At Flip for Joy, we greatly value the input from our customers and we're dedicated to expanding our book selection and bring in more board books, books with hanyu pinyin, readers that help in early language development and books for older children in the primary schools. We are also looking forward to bring in other exciting forms of educational material that help in the learning of the Chinese language, such as activity books, flash cards, puzzles, wooden character tiles and more. We will also continue to share with fellow parents resources and insights on the learning of the Chinese language on our Flip for Joy Facebook page
Thank you Meiru! I look forward to more of Flip for Joy's products!

I will be writing a review next week about Flip for Joy's books, and offering a Flip for Joy voucher as a giveaway. Stay tuned!


Hoonie said...

Thank you so much for this post. I am a Singaporean living in Germany and I am running out of Chinese books to read to my 2.5 yo daughter. Not to mention the difficulty in getting quality Chinese books over here. So, thank you once again for sharing!

Corsage@A Dollop Of Me said...

I am so glad to hear that! I hope you manage to get a good selection from Flip for Joy for your daughter :)

Unknown said...

I love Flip for Joy books too! Did a review last year and some of those books still remain firm favourites :)