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Book festival does well - Hundreds turn out for educational family fun day

Published:Monday | March 19, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Children participate in activities during the Do Good Jamaica/Kingston Book festival held at Emancipation Park in New Kingston on Saturday. - Rudolph Brown/Photographer

Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer

The perfect blend of education and entertainment was how many persons described the Do Good Jamaica/Kingston Book festival at Emancipation Park in New Kingston on Saturday.

The festival, which took the form of a family fun day, saw hundreds of parents and children turning out to take part in the long list of activities.

In addition to a day of reading, activities included craft and mathematics games, puppet making, robotics 'Lego Yuh Mind', facepainting, and balloon making, among other activities.

Kelly Magnus, publishing director of the Book Industry of Jamaica (BIAJ), the chief organising body behind the event, noted that the festival coincides with the country's 50th anniversary celebration.

"We have been embarking on a number of activities for our 50th anniversary celebration and we wanted to end it with a big book fair to showcase kids' and adult books," Magnus said.

"We partnered with Do Good Jamaica which has a good campaign going on called 'Crayon Count', which is working to put learning tools in schools across Jamaica," Magnus said.

Minister's praises

She said the organisers would be seeking to make the festival an annual event.

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites had high praises for the organisers.

"It's impressive and it is all free. This is the gift that Jamaicans give to each other. We open up places of knowledge to all our people and all may come in. I am just hoping that more and more people on subsequent occasions will make use of it," Thwaites said.

"It's all about learning, all about knowledge becoming entertaining. It's about the opening of the mind and so I am anxious to participate in activities like these," the education minister added.

Mathematics experts

The Ministry of Education booth was abuzz with activity as mathematics experts were out sharing tips on ways to make mathematics fun.

"Our activities are geared to helping parents to improve numeracy. We have tips on conversion to the metric system. We have our height chart in centimetres, and the children have helped us to create a simple bar chart to see whose face is worthy of being on a $10,000 note. These are some of the activities we have come up with to make mathematics fun," stated mathematics specialist Joni Gocool.

"A lot of people are comfortable at being bad at math and we want to show them that it is relevant to everyday life."

The parents who turned out also had high praises for the festival.

Norva Whyte, who told The Gleaner she travelled all the way from Old Harbour in St Catherine to be part of the event, said it was worth the travel.

"It is different from the ordinary. It is both educational and entertaining. I find it amazing that every booth I visit there is something educational no matter how simple it is," she said.

"This is really good. What I found most interesting were the mathematics games. They are really brain teasing for not just children, but adults alike," said Joy Palmer.