What is your background in children’s literature?
I worked part-time for Byde Book at Serene Centre more than 10 years ago. That’s where I first discovered how wonderful picture books are. After graduating from Ngee Ann Polytechnic with a Mass Communication diploma, I asked/begged for a job with specialist children’s bookseller Bookaburra Books.

Why did you set up Closetful of Books?
It was Christmas Eve in 2014. We did it because we knew Bookaburra Books was going to close. We were unable to afford a loan to buy Bookaburra but I couldn’t let all the amazing work that Cheryle did with book fairs and children’s literature disappear. So, we began our own rendition.

What does Closetful of Books offer?
The main part of our business is book fairs in schools. We curate fairs specially for each school and we are usually on campus over a few days. It’s like bringing a bookstore to the school! This is also my favourite part of the job because we get to meet nearly every kid in the school, and I get to chat with them about what they enjoy reading.

You also recommend books online?
We have an online store with a curated selection of titles and a chat function that allows for parents or buyers to ask me for recommendations. I also love replying to emails or texts asking for bookish suggestions!

Why are you so passionate about children’s literacy and reading?
Children’s literature tells the truth so clearly and beautifully. It transports the readers, and it is usually written with such heart. Working with children, watching how they develop as readers (and global citizens) is truly magical.

Tell us about your school outreach programs and fairs?
We organise author visits to schools which is always super fun! We like to make sure the visits add to the school’s curriculum while still being fun for the kids.

How hard were you hit by COVID-19? It’s not been fun. All our book fairs were cancelled and I’m not sure when we might be able to bring our books to schools again. As book fairs form the bulk of our business, having to do without them is slightly painful. Selling online is just not the same and it’s slow-going at the moment. For 2021, we hope to get back into book fairs – whatever form they may come in.

What are your career dreams?
One day, we aim to start a not-for-profit literacy centre that celebrates children’s literature. I hope for it to be a place where creators can gather and where we can support growing readers. I have lots of fluffy plans for that and I don’t want to jinx them by writing them down!

Denise’s 3 tips for kids to write a fantastic short story
1. Read plenty!
2. Write constantly!
3. Tell your story bravely!

Where can we find you online?
closetfulofbooks.com