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Cayman Islands Government

Reading Rewarded

Chief Officer Christen Suckoo with young summer reading programme winner

Just over 40 students aged 6 to 17, racked up some 560 hours reading more than 500 books in this year’s Cayman Islands Public Library Service (CIPLS) Summer Reading Challenge.

On Saturday, 23 September 2017, a ceremony was held to reward their efforts. Chief Officer Christen Suckoo for the Ministry of Education took turns with district librarians, presenting top readers and all participants with prizes that included iPads, iPods, games, toys, activity packets and more.

“It is important that we recognise the efforts of the Public Library Service to get our young people to spend more time reading, an activity that enriches every sphere of their lives. In today’s digital world it is equally important that we recognise the efforts of students who are willing to take the time to stop and read a book”, Mr. Suckoo remarked.

The most prolific readers in each age group were:

• Aged 6-9; Darius Whittaker – Bodden

• Aged 10-14; Courdene Thomas

• Aged 15-17; Dante Thompson

A number of younger bookworms who signed up for the programme were also recognised.

This year’s programme focused on fairy tales and fables. Describing the educational properties of the genre, Public Library Service Deputy Director, Paul Robinson, who organised the reading challenge observed, “Fairy tales and fables develop children’s imagination and teach them right from wrong. They also teach us how to handle problems by making us think about what would we do in that situation? From this, young people can learn in real life how to overcome adversity and do the right thing!”

To facilitate the process for children and their parents, the Public Library Service posted an introductory booklet on their Facebook page and website. This document included a suggested reading list available from Libraries and selected from the chosen genre, as well as a reading log in which students could tally their hours.

The programme ran from early July to 26 August when the participants were required to submit their logs to the Library.

Director of the Cayman Islands Public Library Service (CIPLS), Ramona Melody, expressed her gratitude to the teachers, parents, library staff, and sponsors Rotary Central and Maples Fiduciary Services for helping to make the annual event a success each year.

“The importance of reading, and the use of libraries, is crucial in a child’s educational development and the CIPLS is extremely proud to be playing a part in the education equation,” Ms. Melody adds.

The Summer Reading Challenge began in 2012 to encourage children to read a minimum number of age-appropriate books, for a minimum number of days and minutes during the summer. Library membership and a reading log were the only other requirements.

The programme which has been a regular part of the library calendar for some years aims to combat any regression in young people’s abilities during the long summer break.

At the end of the summer, the Library sends a letter to school principals advising them of students who completed the challenge.

Sidebar: Summer Reading Programme a Labour of Love for Library Service

The Cayman Islands Public Library Service organises several reading programmes during the year, one such programme is the annual Summer Reading Challenge.

Each year the challenge aims to keep students aged from six to 17 reading throughout the summer break and a great deal of work goes into the challenge in order to accomplish the library services goal.

Behind the scenes, the library service carefully selects books based on a topical or moral theme that children can enjoy and draw learning experience from.

Early in the summer, staff from all branches handed out reading logs to children who visited the library and also put together a small database to capture details of individual competitors, i.e. number of books read and hours of reading. Each log had to be signed-off by a parent/guardian, librarian, or class teacher.

At the end of the summer, the library received the returned reading logs and proceeded to judge winners based on criteria as ‘best book summary’. The remaining entries are entered into a runner-up prize drawing, providing the minimum amount of hours read is achieved.

Finally, every student that completes the challenge attends an award ceremony held at the Historic George Town Library in September, where prizes and certificates are presented to the amazing young readers of the Cayman Islands!

The 2017 Challenge was the sixth such challenge run by the library.

For further information contact: Suzette Ebanks