PRESIDENT Paula-Mae Weekes implored parents to buy books for their children and to read to them to develop their brains and good book habits.
Her advice came on Wednesday as she visited the Beetham Estate’s All-In-One Development Centre to unveil a plaque to re-dedicate the pre-school’s George Alleyne Library hosted by the Rotary Club. The library was named after a deceased former Newsday columnist, whose relatives attended the event.
Weekes said supports events involving children and literacy. She recalled that as a child she would not get every toy she had asked for, but her parents would always acceded to her request for a book. “Parents, I am happy to see you here today, an investment in your children’s future.”
She advised the parents, saying, “The best gift is a book for which they (children) can develop a passion for reading. Take time to read for them. Make it fun.”
Any parent with trouble reading can enrol in classes at the Adult Literacy Tutor Association (ALTA,) she advised.
Asking the children what kind of books they like, Weekes said she had seen a local book of the alphabet where A was for Agouti, C was for Coconut and D was for Doubles.
“Children, I have been reading since I was small like you," she said.."The more you read the stronger and faster your brain will get. The better you will do in school and in talking to people.It doesn’t matter what type of books you read, the important thing is to read, read and read some more.”
Weekes gathered the infants around to show them the pages of a book on flowers and on cake-baking to demonstrate how useful books are.
“One thing I learnt was how to make a cake, and how to take care of orchids,” she said, while admitting her cakes may not be the best.
Weekes then read the infants a local story book, Look A Moko Jumbie! At moments her narration was lively and exciting, while at others it dropped to a whisper. Telling them the book was from their own library, she urged, “When I come again and ask you how many books you have read, I hope you can tell me three or more.”
Weekes said that after talks with her counterpart from Antigua and Barbuda, she wanted to address the fact that the Presidency has no mechanism for fund-raising. “I am looking into that now.” She promised that if she succeeds in setting this up, the school would then be on her agenda to help.
Earlier as she took the podium to begin her address, Weekes asked the whereabouts of school founder Wayne Patrick Jordan, who rose from the audience.
Weekes said, “I am a little upset your name is not on the list of salutations. I have known of you forever and all the hard work you have done.” Jordan later told Newsday how great it was for the President to visit the school that he had set up in 1985 in a wood and galvanise shed. Jordan had run the school out of his own fund-raising, until the Rotary Club stepped in to help. Today the school is housed on a new site in a well-outfitted concrete building. He said in 2007 he had founded the Each One Teach One school while Charmaine Anderson had become the centre's new principal. Other remarks were delivered by Rotary members Susan Philip, Peter Aleong, Anthony John-Baptiste and Nicole Matouk. Among those present were Rotarian Lara Quentrall-Thomas and youth activist Gregory Sloane-Seale.