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Students flock to Story Club

From left: Project coordinators Kameisha Kirton and Tonisha Boyce, along with director of Trinity Valley, Ivor Belgrave, accept a sponsors cheque from Scotiabank’s Marcelle Greenidge, while children from some of the participating schools look on.

There is a new club in Barbados aimed at showing children the joys of reading, while helping them develop their potential and comprehension skills.

Launched yesterday at the Clock Tower at the Garrison, volunteers read to the 300 students at the five primary schools involved — Blackman & Gollop, Ellerton, Luther Thorne Memorial, St. James Primary and St. Jude’s.

They visit the schools’ libraries from Monday to Thursday as well as the Public Library in Bridgetown on Saturdays.

Penelope Hynam explained that the Story Club started after a conversation between Ivor Belgrave of Trinity Valley Counselling Services and patron Jacket Curbishley, who has a winter home on the island, about the fact that children were not reading as they should.

“Ivor organised the first two schools which were Luther Thorne and Ellerton, the principals were willing to trying it. We go at 3 o’clock when school lets out and we designate a particular classroom, now it’s getting so busy we have two classrooms, one for the five-to-seven year-olds and the other is for eight-to-10. We read them a story and then we have them draw from that story, anything that comes into their head … They bring it to us and if we have time we read them another story.

“As we read the story we find words that they may not know so we’ll write them on the board and we’ll [ask] what this word means. We try to expand their vocabulary as well,” she explained.

Hynam noted that the children were really enthusiastic and tried to get there early because failure to arrive on time means they cannot attend.

“One day I had a classroom of 56 kids, some of them were sitting on the floor. I didn’t know what to do with all of them but I dealt with it. We prefer 25 and 30 maximum. We need at least 20 volunteers, because we’re doubling up right now,” she added.

Deputy Principal of Erdiston Teachers’ Training College, Dr. Patricia Saul, who gave the feature address, said the club was a “welcomed addition to the Barbadian educational landscape” as regular exposure to “expressive and innovative reading, which is part of the purpose for establishing the club, will enhance children’s cognitive and affective development”.

She also noted there were too many Barbadians who had not “embraced the notion of reading for pleasure”.

The educator said she believed that the club could make a difference.

“The launch of this Story Club initiative is a splendid opportunity to highlight the important role which literacy plays in the development of individuals and nations. We live in an information age and literacy skills are essential for full participation in society. In fact, high literacy rates will separate those countries that aggressively move forward from those that are left behind.

“Therefore we need to mobilise a stronger commitment to literacy generally in our society. There are too many Barbadians who have not embraced the notion of reading for pleasure. As we launch this Story Club today, let us as a nation pause and reflect on what is being done to enhance the state of literacy in our country.

“Barbados celebrates universal access to education for all its children from the nursery to tertiary levels — a characteristic which contributes to the country’s very high literacy rate. Consequently, in spite of the lament that our standard of literacy is falling nationally, we can still claim to have one of the highest literacy rates in the developing world,” Saul said. (DS)

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