The History Workroom has published several children’s books based on icons in Singapore’s history. These books are chapter books suitable for children aged 8 to 11 years old.

CB cover

Coolie Boys by Ho Lee-Ling

Published: 2013, Singapore
ISBN: 978-981-07-6598-1

Being a coolie is far from being cool! It’s hard work as John and Gideon find out when they are forced into being the personal coolies of the school bullies.

Fortunately, help comes in the form of John’s grandfather and a coolie of old. But is it enough to help the boys escape the clutches of the bullies and their devious plans?

Special feature:

Learn about the coolies who worked in early Singapore in the “More About Coolies” section at the end of the book. Oh, and there’s a free bookmark too!



GB cover hi-res Gasing Boy by Ho Lee-Ling

Published: 2010, SIngapore
ISBN: 978-981-08-7657-9

John Chow is in trouble. Sent away from his home in Singapore, he unwittingly enters a top spinning competition with a champion spinner.

He can barely spin a bottle, let along the traditional Malay spinning top, the gasingThe stakes are high; the reputation of his uncle and friends ride on his shoulder.

Does John have the determination, nerves and skills to withstand the whirlwind training and emerge as a true champion?

Special feature:

The “More About Gasing” section offers additional information on how gasings are made, cared for and spun.


Wayang Girl

Wayang Girl by Ho Lee-Ling

Published: 2008, Singapore
ISBN: 978-981-05-9491-6

Mother is unhappy when Amber marches around the house banging on her cymbals. She says Amber is a “whole noise wayang rolled up in one small girl”.

Amber is curious. She has never heard of the wayang before. What is it?

Join Amber as she explores the fascinating world of wayang, one of Singapore’s traditional performing arts. 





 Samsui Girl by Ho Lee-Ling

Published: 2008, Singapore
ISBN: 978-981-05-9491-6

Amber is a tomboy who likes to sit with her legs on the chair. Mother thinks this is very unladylike. She says only Samsui women put their legs on the chair.

To get her way, Amber decides to be a Samsui girl, at least for a day. But it is not as easy as she thinks!

Samsui Girl follows Amber’s adventures as she learns to look and work like a true Samsui woman.

Special feature: Learn about the history of the real Samsui women of Singapore.

Samsui Girl is the recipient of the inaugural First Time Writers’ and Illustrators’ Award (2006). This second edition is revised and updated to new drawings and photographs from the National Archives of Singapore.



Culture and Customs of Singapore and Malaysia by Jaime Koh and Stephanie Ho Culture & Customs of Singapore and Malaysia
Published 2009, Greenwood Press (USA)
ISBN: 978-0-313-35115-0 

Culture and Customs of Singapore and Malaysia examines all aspects of contemporary life in these two geographically close and historically and culturally connected nations, starting with the people fighting to maintain a balance between the new and the traditional. The book shows how religion has evolved through time in the two nations and examines how literature and traditional crafts thrive today. It highlights the performing arts and entertainment, noting how Western culture has influenced and shaped new customs. Housing and architecture, both modern and traditional, are discussed, along with cuisine and fashion. Students can use the book to analyze gender roles and family life. They can also read about the ways in which festivals are celebrated and can compare and contrast leisure activities of Singapore and Malaysia with their own. The volume concludes with a look to the future of these two evolving countries, both moving toward modernity, but still holding on to the traditions of the past.