Good morning!

If there is one way to be sure to get me to attend an event, is for literacy, and in particular with children, to be the cause.  I am delighted to be here for the Rededication of the George Alleyne Library at the All in One Child Development Centre here in Beetham Gardens.  Just late last year, I attended the opening of the La Seiva R.C. Primary School and, as with today’s rededication, the Rotary Club was integrally involved.  None of this would have been possible without the hard work of the Rotary Club, whose consistent involvement in literacy projects deserves the highest commendation. I thank its members for their patriotic and nation-building commitment to literacy. You are good examples of what each of us can do to, in our small spheres of influence, to build a better, stronger nation.

Parents, I am happy to see so many of you here  today.  Literacy, reading and writing, is an investment in your children’s future. When I was a child, my mummy wouldn’t always buy me the toys that I asked for, but if I asked for a book that was a slam dunk.  I would like to recommend that approach to you.  So, by all means, shower them with other gifts but the best gift is a book from which they can develop a passion for reading. Take the time to read to them frequently and make reading a fun, family activity. Children learn from what they see, so if they see you reading and enjoying it they will follow suit.  Should any of you have challenges with literacy, don’t be ashamed or hesitate to give yourself the gift of literacy through organisations such as The Adult Literacy Tutors Association (ALTA), which have dedicated great time and effort in empowering adults to read and write.

Children, I have been reading since I was small like you.  I loved to read tales about farawaylands; the adventures of mischievous children like myself; and the stories about toys which came to life at midnight. As I got older, I switched to books about haunted houses, mysteries and brave girls. I still love to read all sorts of books, but I most enjoy adventure stories.

Now that you know my favourite kind of book, tell me, what kind of books do you like?

Last year at the La Seiva library I saw a new ABC book. It was about us in Trinidad and Tobago.  A stood for agouti; I forget what B was for, but C was for coconuts and guess what D was for?

Reading is exercise for your brain; the more you read, the stronger and faster your brain will become. If you don’t know a word, don’t give up, ask mummy or daddy or Miss or Sir to explain it to you and when you get older, read with a dictionary next to you or, better yet, google the words you don’t know. The more you read, the more words you learn, and the better you will become at creative writing, spelling and expressing yourself.

You can read a real book like the ones in your new library or you can read books on a phone or a tablet. Of course, it doesn’t matter which you choose, the important thing is to read, read and then read some more, and now that you have so many brand-new books in your wonderful library, I hope that you too will come to love reading.

When you read, or when mummy or daddy reads to you, you can learn about new and exciting worlds without even leaving your home. You can meet all sorts of interesting people and imagine that you are whomever you want to be.  Reading shows you all the different things you can do, all the different jobs that you can have, all the different places you can visit and even all the great food that you can taste.

I am going to read you a story about something all of you know.  I will describe it for you and you tell me what it is.  But before I do that, I want to show you three of my favourite books. 

Let’s get to this exciting story.