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Read Across Jamaica puts spotlight on culture

Published:Tuesday | May 1, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Local children's book authors Jana Bent and Kelly Magnus have joined up with the Digicel Foundation to bring greater focus to cultural books in schools as part of the foundation's May 8 Read Across Jamaica initiative.

The move, in recognition of the island's 50th anniversary as an independent nation, will see the team visiting select schools across the island, with enrichment centres built by the foundation, to read from Jamaica's cultural children's books.

Executive director of the Digicel Foundation, Samantha Chantrelle said the initiative underscored the foundation's strong focus on empowering youth through education and culture.

Importance of culture

"You can't underestimate the importance of children seeing themselves and their world on the page," said Magnus, founder of Jackmandora, a Caribbean children's media company, and author of the popular Little Lion series.

"It's important for their self-esteem, for their identity to have books written about their reality and their culture and to meet authors who look like and sound like them. If they have a chance to meet writers from their own environment, it changes what they think of as possible."

Magnus' books are also included in the Ministry of Education's Literacy 123 and BookStarts Jamaica programmes.

Bent, co-author of Reggae Pickney, commented: "I'm really looking forward to working with the Digicel Foundation to stir up some Reggae Pickney fun for the kids in these schools. I'll be bringing my music and instruments, and we'll be doing some fun interactive learning while jamming to the best reggae for kids."