Her Excellency Christine C. Kangaloo, President of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, continued the series “Children’s Storytime at President’s House” with another event at her residence on Wednesday 4 October, hosted by the Office of The President in collaboration with the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
In July, President Kangaloo hosted the inaugural Children’s Storytime event at President’s House. As part of this initiative, it is Her Excellency’s intention to extend invitations to primary schools across the country. The Storytime sessions have thus far featured local writers and professional storytellers and musicians.
The second installment included students of Maraval RC Primary School, Marabella Boys’ AC Primary School and Seereeram Memorial Vedic School. President Kangaloo opened the programme by reminding the children of the importance of reading. The President reminisced about her own childhood and the joy she got from reading, a pleasant experience that she continues to this day. She reminded the young audience that reading not only provides information but also stimulates the imagination and paves the way for greater knowledge.
Children’s author Alake Pilgrim provided an entertaining and educational session, reading from her book Zo and The Forest of Secrets, which was shortlisted for the 2022 Bocas Lit Fest Children’s Book Prize. The author ensured the children were engaged with exciting stories about Papa Bois and the forest animals, and followed her readings with short quizzes.
The students responded excitedly to the quizzes and received tokens from the President and the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC), title sponsor of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest. Aiden Jones, Alana Jada Maria Ambris, and Denzille Lamy represented their schools and read excerpts from three books — The Legend of the Lover’s Leap, The Whisperer’s Warning and In the Backyard respectively. They each received a copy of My COVID Stories, an illustrated book published by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest — a collection of stories by children aged 5 to 12.
At the conclusion of the event, Melvina Hazard, Children’s Programme Manager, Bocas Lit Fest, said that the second successful “Children’s Storytime at President’s House” was another indication that honing reading skills in young children is imperative to improving literacy levels in Trinidad and Tobago. She added, “The efforts of NGOs such as NGC Bocas Lit Fest through initiatives such as the Children’s Storytelling Caravan, and partnerships with Let’s Read TT and Paper Based Bookshop for events like the Family Reading Circle scheduled to begin on Saturday 14 October, seek to reinforce the mission to foster a love for reading, promote literacy, and develop writing as a critical tool for social development in children across the country. ”