The 2023 NGC Bocas Lit Fest will run from 28 to 30 April — our first fully in-person festival in four years!
After eleven years of offering lively, innovative events and programmes for young readers, the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest presents an exciting new resource — Bocas Storytime, a dedicated YouTube channel for children! Bocas Storytime has diverse range of videos available on demand — read-alouds, animations, storytelling, and fun workshops — all inspired by Caribbean writing and culture.Head to Bocas Storytime to watch our #Bocas2022 playlist of videos in the programme below, and make sure to subscribe on YouTube to get notifications about our growing library of children’s content!
The NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest’s move to producing online content for young viewers was a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after health restrictions made it impossible to continue the festival’s beloved in-person events in 2020 and 2021. Over the past two years, dramatised storytelling videos, animations, and Dragonzilla’s Short Story Writing Challenge gave young audiences access to stimulating local content, even during the pandemic lockdown. The new YouTube channel is the next step in stewarding this treasure trove of free, age-appropriate online content for children, even as we plan the return of the Children’s Storytelling Caravan later this year!
Available at Bocas Storytime on YouTube!
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” — Dr. Seuss
Is there a specific age when you can become a writer? Nope! Are grown-ups the only ones who “know things”? Nope! Authors Kai-De Alexis (My Hair Journey), Naila Baynes (Open Your Heart), Coryn Clarke (Chronicles of Coryn), and Mila Smith (This is Mila) may be young, but they have powerful, inspiring stories to share with their friends, and the whole world.
Host Osei Blake introduces us to some of Trinidad and Tobago’s youngest published authors, and they offer us a sneak peek at their books!
In partnership with The Trinidad and Tobago Association for the Hearing Impaired (TTAHI). Sign Language will be provided for this event.
Can Bears Ski? (Walker Books, UK/ Candlewick Press, USA) is the debut children’s book from award-winning poet Raymond Antrobus that tracks a father-and-son journey into the discovery of deafness. Boy Bear can not hear Dad Bear coming to wake him up in the morning but he can feel the floor vibrate with his heavy footsteps. He can only grasp little bits of what his teacher says to him at school. He cannot catch what his friends are laughing at. And, all the time, Boy Bear keeps hearing the question, “Can bears ski?”. What does it mean? Join the author as he reads aloud from Can Bears Ski?, and the learn some key words in sign language with The Trinidad and Tobago Association for the Hearing Impaired (TTAHI) so you can sign along with the story next time you watch!
If you’re brave enough to go out after dark looking for a jumbie, then you can come along on a fun romp through a forest filled with folklore creatures in Looking for a Jumbie by Tracey Baptiste (Harper Collins). But don’t worry, not all forest creatures are as creepy as jumbies — some of them are like Zoe the Fairy, who’s taking us to explore the sensory wonders of Maracas Beach in the picture book Zoe the Fairy’s Discoveries: A Visit to Maracas Beach by Liseanne Martin-Subero.
To stay on the folklore theme, check out the animation “Lagahoo in the Lagoon”, a spooky tale written by children of Mayaro during NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest Storytelling Caravan!
Reggae icon Ziggy Marley and his wife Orly introduce us to their character Little John Crow, a young vulture (corbeau) growing up in Bull Bay on the edge of the Blue Mountains in Jamaica who embarks on a journey of self-discovery when he is abandoned by his friends. Filled with humour and memorable characters, Little John Crow (Akashic Books) reminds us of the importance of accepting our differences and shows us that life offers a place and purpose for all of us — even scary scavengers!
Do you love to sing and dance? Do you like to put on a good show? And how do you feel about glitzy costumes? If you take those talents and follow the six steps in the book How to Become a Calypsonian by Desryn Collins (Harper Collins), the calypso crown could be in your reach! Join the book’s main character the Mighty Glen Glen — narrated by actor Aija Jerome — for a book read-aloud, and meet musician Aaron Duncan, who started his career in Junior Calypso Monarch and is now making viral soca tunes!
Our Caribbean landscape is an artist’s dream — we challenge you to walk outside and see what colours, textures, shapes and size materials you can find just a stone’s throw from your window! In this video tutorial, artist Danielle Boodoo-Fortune, the illustrator of Joanne C. Hillhouse’s children’s book The Jungle Outside (HarperCollins), shows us how to create art inspired by our lush tropical environment.
After this tutorial, you can continue to explore nature with a story set in our Caribbean landscape – check out the animation “Rock Fishing at Bloody Bay” written by children of Tobago during the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest Storytelling Caravan!
You’re invited on a historical journey with authors Jeunanne Alkins and Neala Bhagwansingh to discover which of the seven monumental houses along the Queen’s Park Savannah earns the title of The Most Magnificent! Join Anita Chandradath Singh, as Mrs. Mille Fleurs, for a delightful read-aloud from this new picture book, and explore the last hundred years through the eyes of Mrs. Mille Fleurs, Professor QRC, Lady Hayes Court, Dr. Roomor, The Archbishop, Minister Whitehall, and Sir Stollmeyer. Together we’ll discover what makes these buildings special – is it looks, size, age, or the people who lived in them? – and with that knowledge you can go on a mission to determine the most magnificent in your neighbourhood!
With fancy costumes and big crowds, Trinidad Carnival is full of colour, music and excitement! In Lost at Carnival by Gail Morong, the ‘mas is captured in stunning watercolour illustrations by artist Jackie Hinkson, and we meet Akil, a young boy who gets lost when he is separated from his school band. This important story is both a vibrant celebration of our culture and a valuable lesson about being safe in public events — all the more pertinent for children as we anticipate the return of Carnival and other national events post-pandemic.
To stay on the festival theme, check out the animations “Lost in J’ouvert” written by children of Port-of-Spain and “Drama at the Tobago Heritage Festival” written by children of Tobago during the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest Storytelling Caravan!
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we all went into lockdown at the same time — but did we all feel the same things? Don’t miss this special playlist of original stories written by children ages five to twelve, all finalists in Dragonzilla’s Short Story Writing Challenge. The stories cross over many genres, some exploring pandemic life through fantasy and others with stark realism; full of words brimming with big emotions, revealing hope and resilience and often sprinkling life with a sense of humour. These stories give a glimpse into the emotions and experiences of 2020 and 2021 by brilliant young writers – creating an invaluable record for future generations as well as a treasure trove of entertaining stories written for children, by children! Don’t miss these top stories: “The Big Fight” by Josse Franco; “A Familiar Prison” by David Ryan, and “Finger Lickin’ Freedom” and “The Great Depression” by Josh Hansraj.
Dragonzilla is the mascot of the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest. This smiling friendly dragon lives in the Bocas del Dragón (Dragon’s Mouths) in the Gulf of Paria, but comes out to visit children who take part in the Children’s Storytelling Caravan, helping them to develop a love for reading, writing and storytelling.
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