Sunday, 23 December 2012

University youth implements the Read For Life Summer Programme in Barbados

Author: Natasha Beckles
Title: Nourishing a love for books
Source: Nation News
Date published: DECEMBER 02, 2012

The article reports on a summer reading programme for children in libraries across Barbados, the Read For Life Summer Programme. In this programme, participants as young as three years old are involved in activities to use their imaginations and creativity while discovering the fun of reading books. A brief biographical background about the founder of the programme, Gillian Rowe, is provided. Rowe  is a 22 year old history student at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus.

The article discusses the outcomes and impact of the programme from Rowe's perspective. Read For Life according to Rowe, has helped to increase the usage of libraries especially during the summer, and has impacted children's personal development over the three years. Parents have also came forward seeking assistance to improve their children's reading.

How the programme was implemented is also documented. In the first year, volunteers went into the community to learn about the reading habits of children from their parents. In the second year, the children themselves were surveyed in order to find out what their favourite books were, who read to them, if they enjoyed reading and if they liked drawing pictures or imagining stories after reading a book. Based on these findings, the volunteers used the third year to locate more books that the children can relate to culturally.

Rowe make suggestions from her research about the development of children book publishing for the region. According to Rowe, children want to read about the stories and issues in their own lives of which they have questions about. Rowe is also reported as stating that there is a shortage of Barbadian and Caribbean children books, despite the quantity of teachers, writers and literary students graduating from the University of the West Indies. Rowe suggests that a publishing platform be established to to purposefully increase the quantity of regional books. Other suggestions are given in order to rectify the problem including using the submissions to the National Independence Festival Of Creative Arts (NIFCA) to discover new ideas for publication.

Rowe also discusses the partnerships that Read For Life has established including referrals of children who need extra assistance to the LITE Remedial Reading Centre. Future expansion in programming are announced, including a plan to launch the pilot phase of its Homework Helper programme which will include three schools and three branch libraries. A bit of information is provided about the homework helper program, where after school assistance will be provided to select students at the libraries who need help with their homework. This programme will be staffed with volunteers at three libraries that will provide one-on-one assistance.Rowe also announces plans for two additional end of year readings on December 22 and 29 at the Bridgetown Library, lasting for two hours, which will enable parents to have their children occupied while completing their shopping.


“We encourage children to come and use the resources in library branches for themselves, to help them with their schoolwork, to help them with general knowledge and to help them as they try to find a profession and way of life for themselves,” she said of the programme which caters to those up to the age of 18. 

The non-profit organization is staffed by a number of volunteers, many of whom are former teachers and principals and students who want to become teachers. 

However, anyone who is passionate about encouraging children and helping them to develop is welcome to volunteer since they are trained before being placed in the libraries.

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