Encourage your children to read! This was the message from Soroptimist International, San Fernando, on the occasion of International Literacy Day which was celebrated yesterday.
The group marked the occasion by setting up a children’s library at the Paediatric Ward of the San Fernando Teaching Hospital.
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President Bebe Ajodha, who expressed concern that children are spending more time on electronic devices than with books, underscored the importance of reading.
“Literacy promotes lifelong learning. It is the foundation for life, for kids and everything,” she said.
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Ajodha said the organisation hopes to return to the hospital to read with the children, donate more books to the library and encourage parents to read to their children.
Encouraging children to read has become difficult because of technology, she said, adding: “It is key and essential and parents sometimes put on the television or YouTube as the babysitter but that will not work. You have to sit with your child, read to them bedtime stories, sit with your teenagers, do homework with them, go with your teenagers to the library as well, and you yourself have to be educated.
“You can’t leave your children to play games on the iPad. It is critical and important that parents sit with their children and start at the youngest age.”
Soroptimist member Aruna Harbaran urged parents to join their children at the library.
“You can borrow five to six books from babies to 90-years-old, 99-years-olds, so there is never an excuse. You don’t have to spend a cent.”
She encouraged parents to borrow books and make their children read.
“That’s the way they are going to get brighter and smarter and excel in school. When you go with your children anywhere walk with a book. Don’t let them sit down idly on the phone…give them a book.”
Dr Andrea Arrindell said electronic devices have had a significant impact on children’s development, cognitive ability and learning.
“Children who read more are a lot more intelligent, they interact well, they speak well with others as opposed to those who are more on the devices,” she said, adding that children who do not read tend to be less interactive and shy.