So, one of the things that you hear educators complaining about in Barbados is that young people don’t like to read. In a column called Word View in the Sunday Sun, Esther Phillips, an editor and Poet, stated that it was no secret the literacy rates in Barbados and in the rest of the world were falling fast.
Phillips said that her group, Writers Ink, were committed to spreading the love of literature and improving the local literacy levels. She argued that the love of reading has to be introduced at a young age and her solution is the Bim LitFest Children’s Fair which would be part of the Bim Literary Festival and Book Fair next month.
The question is why are the literacy rates falling and why is there little love for reading amongst the younger generation?
A local teacher suggested a number of possible causes;
1. Literature is no longer a compulsory subject CSEC examination.
2. That over the years education system has been putting more emphasis on technical proficiency and less on abstract thought.
3. Reading itself is seen as something for girls.
4. Even if a student is successfully taught to read, he or she is not usually taught how to enjoy reading or how to choose a book. So reading is associated with school work and not seen as a relaxing activity.
5. Then there is the internet, video games consoles, television and wide array of gadgets kids could be engaging with rather than reading.
I think that the local book stores and libraries are also limited, which probably doesn’t help much. A few months ago, I walked into a popular book store the other day and saw a variety paranormal romances, YA romances, chick lit, some detective fiction, thrillers, a lot self help books, some Christian fiction… which is great, but I don’t really read much of that.
My wife once said that she would like to be the person that chose the books, so that she would always have good books to read.
Back in my pre-teen years my father got a contract to work in Washington DC for three years, so my mother, brother and myself moved with him. We actually lived in Maryland, and my brother and I attended school in Montgomery County.
At my brother’s elementary school reading was big deal. There was something known as Library hour during school day when the students had to read and it was up to them to choose. They had to borrow at least two books, the students were encouraged to join the local library, and once a year, just before the summer holidays, there would be a book fair where Scholastic would bring a whole selection of books for the students to choose from.
He was a big reader then and he was the one that got me into Harry Potter.
I know that Barbados doesn’t have the kind of resources that the U.S. has, so taking that into consideration, I really hope that Ms. Phillips and Writers Ink are successful.
The Bim Literary Festival and Book Fair will be held from May 15th to the 17th.
P.S. I’m not even bothering to do a wrap up post for the “24 in 48 readathon” since I only logged like three hours.