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Barbados will join with the rest of the world to commemorate International Literacy Day, this Thursday, September 8.

In its effort to mark the occasion, the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development has issued a challenge to Barbadians to ???Drop Everything and Read.’??

Government departments, private sector entities, and business and learning institutions will be encouraged to permit staff and or students to read for pleasure – a book, magazine or journal – for about 15 minutes, beginning at 1:00 p.m., on Thursday.

In addition to promoting the national ???Drop Everything and Read’ initiative, the Ministry has issued a number of tips for getting parents and children to read more. Foremost among these is the suggestion by Education Officer for Reading, Christina Morris, that, despite the wide usage of the internet, children should be enrolled at a library and parents accompany them on visits there.

Even with the high interest in modern technology, the Ministry official is recommending the use of reference books such as the dictionary, thesaurus and encyclopedia, texts which she said could strengthen research skills and build word knowledge and word meanings.??

While noting that these and other books could be given to children as gifts, Mrs. Morris added that it was also important to give children books about their special interests, such as animals, sports, magic and vehicles.?? Urging parents to keep books, magazines and newspapers around the home, the Reading Officer said: "Encourage them to read aloud and retell stories in their own words, to illustrate parts of stories and to write a few sentences about the illustration. Children should also read, discuss and summarise newspaper articles and be exposed to different kinds of material so that they get to experience different kinds of writing."

Among the other advice given is for parents to ensure that there is a balance between the time spent watching television and playing video games, and the time spent reading and studying.?? Mrs. Morris said families should aim to read to young children daily, and allow them to choose the books. "Let your children see you read. This is the best way to show them that you think reading is important and enjoyable. Reciting nursery rhymes and poems as well as singing songs to younger children help them to pay attention to the phonetics – the sounds of letters and words."

The education official is also of the view that young children should be told stories about their family and stories which parents enjoyed when they were children. According to her, these, should be written down and read aloud at a later date. ??Other recommendations given to enhance the skills of young readers included allowing them to trace letters in sand, on paper or on a plate of sugar while saying the sounds of the letters and reading their favourite books over and over again.?? "As you read, pause and ask questions about what is going on in the book," said the Reading Officer, stressing that discussion would help to stimulate interest, develop the child’s memory and build comprehension skills.

On September 8, as the Ministry of Education marks International Literacy Day, parents are urged to go to https://www.gisbarbados.gov.bb/ and learn more about tips for getting both young and older children to read more.


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