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Read Across Jamaica Day

Calls to engage more with physical books

Published:Thursday | May 11, 2023 | 12:26 AMAinsworth Morris/Staff Reporter
Raquel McLean, a representative from The Gleaner, reads a story called ‘Myself as a Dinosaur’, as Gabriel Sinclair (second right) and other students react, at St Paul’s United Infant School on Lockett Avenue, Kingston 4, as part of the Read Across Ja
Raquel McLean, a representative from The Gleaner, reads a story called ‘Myself as a Dinosaur’, as Gabriel Sinclair (second right) and other students react, at St Paul’s United Infant School on Lockett Avenue, Kingston 4, as part of the Read Across Jamaica Day activities yesterday.

AS JAMAICANS celebrated Read Across Jamaica Day yesterday, numerous readers from government and corporate bodies called for more parents and guardians to encourage our nation’s children to stick with the tradition of reading physical books over electronic copies (e-books) on tablets.

In recent years, especially with online classes becoming more popular during the pandemic and e-copies of books being circulated more to facilitate the online learning process, some Jamaicans believe the traditional way of reading with physical books in hand, still remain the wisest way to go.

Some have also argued that there is nothing like the physical books, which have lesser chances of disappearing, and children can make notes on them for future reference, over copies on tablets.

Debbie Meek, principal, Elletson Primary & Infant School, was among those who told The Gleaner that she preferred physical books over e-books.

“I like physical books because I can go through the pages by touching them, write on them and underline on them, make notes and I don’t know how to do that (easily) on e-books,” Meek said before smiling.

Marcia Chin, an early childhood teacher at Little Angels Early Childhood on Molynes Road, said yesterday that she too prefers physical books.

“There’s nothing like the physical book, especially for our little ones who are learning to write letters and numbers. I find it much better to teach them in the classroom setting with a physical book over a tablet. Yes, the tablet is easier to swipe, but the pencil and paper for our children, and physical reading books have a different look and feel to me than online reading books,” Chin told The Gleaner.

GLEANER REP

Racquel McLean, a former teacher and representative of The Gleaner Company Media Limited, journeyed to St Paul’s United Infant School, the institution nearest to her place of work neighbouring Lockett Avenue, to read to children. She chose to read from physical copies of The Gleaner’s Children ’s Own, which had stories such as ‘Myself as a Mountain’, ‘Playing with dogs’, ‘Stealing mangoes’, ‘The land of mystery’, ‘The great escape’, ‘The funky little monkey’ and ‘Myself as a pencil’.

She said the engagement in reading and education for at least one day annually, oftentimes become a positive memory engraved in the minds of children and encourages them to continue reading for excellence.

“It (reading) is a skill that’s critical for them (children) to learn and to appreciate that they can have entertainment through reading through books, not just a device that is high visual, but engage their imaginations and build themselves as a creative being,” McLean said.

“I thought it was important that we select a school that is in the area, because most of the schools in the area actually cater to the community in the area so it is our way to give back to the community and to the next generation, so that they see The Gleaner, not only as a corporate entity, but also as a part of the life of the community, and making a positive impact on the community,” McLean said.

Read Across Jamaica Day forms part of the Ministry of Education and Youth and the Jamaica Teachers’ Association’s annual Education Week activities being celebrated between May 7 and 13 this year.

Read Across Jamaica Day aims to foster a love for reading among children in Jamaica and to promote the significance of reading and literacy locally.

ainsworth.morris@gleanerjm.com