Today’s Read Across Jamaica Day: How Reading Aloud Helps Build Children’s Creativity
Today’s one of my favourite days of the year.
On Read Across Jamaica Day, teams from companies and state agencies head to schools across the country to read to children.
Many of them also buy local children’s books to distribute. It’s a win for authors, publishers and booksellers. And a big win for the children.
COVID has brought some adjustments to the day that I hope we’ll keep. Online author visits are now commonplace. Events can reach students from multiple schools and more parents, authors and other guests join in. This morning, without leaving my desk, I got to pop in for quick read-alongs with both Region 7 (Clarendon) and Region 4 (St James, Westmoreland and Hanover) along with readers dressed like children’s book characters, including Cotton Tail and Little Red Riding Hood.
It was festive and fun — and fundamental. This broadscale celebration of reading needs to be a regular part of our children’s school experience from pre-school through high school. Not reading for instruction, just reading for the sheer pleasure of it.
The World Literacy Foundation tells us that reading strengthens our mental muscle. As the words describe an image, our brains work to form the picture.
For children who have difficulty reading, read-alouds help them to tap into the joy of reading which can build their confidence to continue to work on their reading skills. Read-alouds also strengthen imaginative play, which is essential for developing creativity and problem-solving skills.
I’d love to see more companies develop year-round reading programmes with volunteers, especially men, reading and engaging students in discussion. And I’d love to see more efforts to include high schools.
If we did that consistently for a year, imagine how much better off our children would be by next year’s Read Across Jamaica Day.
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