Her Excellency Christine C. Kangaloo, President of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, read an excerpt from one of her favourite children’s stories at the inaugural “Children’s Storytime at President’s House” event on Wednesday 5 July, hosted by the Office of The President in collaboration with the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
The pilot session, attended by Their Excellencies President Kangaloo and her husband Kerwyn Garcia, SC, is the first in a planned series of storytelling sessions for youngsters at the historic residence.
President Kangaloo will be extending invitations to other primary schools across the country to President’s House for future Children’s Storytime sessions, featuring local writers and professional storytellers accompanied by music, theatre, and dance.
Students of Nelson Street Boys’ RC Primary School, Laventille Girls’ RC Primary School, Barataria AC Primary School, Rosary Boys’ RC Primary School, and St Rose’s Girls’ RC Primary School attended the event. President Kangaloo opened the programme with a reading from the story “King Oranges” from the book Caribbean Sunshine for Mammie’s Children by Eva David-Swain. She also emphasised the importance of reading for information and stimulating the imagination.
The children also enjoyed animated storytelling sessions by two local children’s authors. Phillip Simon read from Petra and the Pan Man’s Daughter, which was longlisted for the 2022 Bocas Lit Fest Children’s Book Prize. Two young tenor pan musicians from NGC Couva Joylanders, Jennai Taitt-Rawlins and Naomi Thomas, played musical accompaniment to the excerpt. Author Mary Cuffy then read from her latest book, Road Trip Adventures with Lola and Dawson, engaging the children in an animated singalong.
The storytelling sessions were followed by pop quizzes, where students received prizes from the President and the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC), title sponsor of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest. The giveaways included copies of My COVID Stories, an illustrated book published by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, collecting stories by children aged 5 to 12 written for Dragonzilla’s Short Story Challenge, a programme that ran during the pandemic lockdown.
Melvina Hazard, Children’s Programme Manager at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, explained that “Children’s Storytime at President’s House” furthers the NGO’s mission to foster a love for reading, promote literacy, and develop writing as a critical tool for social development. Over the past twelve years, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest Children’s Storytelling Caravan has toured the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago, resulting in hundreds of published stories written by children. “We are thrilled that the Office of The President has asked us to partner on this programme,” said Hazard. “‘Children’s Storytime at President’s House’ hosted by Their Excellencies is a welcome addition to the efforts of the Bocas Lit Fest, Let’s Read TT, other NGOs, and NALIS, all working towards the goal of encouraging children to read for pleasure, resulting in better comprehension and literacy.”