Thursday, November 5, 2009

AUTHORS, STAY IN BUSINESS - Volunteer to Read!

If there are no readers in our region, for whom will we write? And by readers I mean people who love to read and who love books. By people I mean kids who grow into teens and then young adults who become consumers who buy and read books because of the pleasure they offer.

Based on the last ten years as a children's book author in Trinidad, I am convinced there is as yet an unfulfilled hunger for our work. And it resides too in the so called reluctant readers, and in our most under privileged communities.

A few weeks ago I enjoyed the privilege of reading for a group of children from our most under privileged communities in Trinidad. The cherry on top was getting to speak with and share my passion for reading with their mothers. Without exception the children were interested and delightful. Their mothers, God bless them are so willing and able; two were breastfeeding, another was visually impaired; a few did not look the part of "interested parent" making me smile over our stereotypes. I drew on that using one Mom's "MARVIN" tattoo to demonstrate phonics, rhythm and rhyme, relevant reading and the way word games aka "READING" can be found and played in our living environments.

They showed up in the heat of the day to sit under a tree, old school style, and listen. They asked questions too; intelligent ones. It was apparent what it must have required of them to show up; this much maligned group of citizens. My own son goes to a privileged school and we can barely get 20 of the nearly 600 families to represent when time come for PTA! Hmmmm....

The camp was facilitated by the dedicated women who make up Creative Parenting for the New Era - CEO Joan Bishop and "Baby Talk" radio feature writer Barbara King. It was hosted at Composite Excel at the Beetham Estate where children often experience police raids and violent crime as a part of their everyday.

I am so grateful for the opportunity. Every time I get to go out into my country in this way, it reminds me that we are all more alike than not; and that for the most part we are good people who want the best for out kids.

Caribbean children's authors write for Caribbean children first. In our hunger to get published, to write the next big thing, to earn a living off royalties and so on, I say - find them! Find those children you are writing for and read out loud for them. Tithe your time, your talent, your books and in this way you will always have work. When they see themselves in your characters, their world in your imaginings you will make their realities into beautiful dreams and they, in time, will make our dreams a reality.

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