January 14, 2009
Here are Nancy McDonald's comments after the presentation:
I thought you might be interested to hear just a little bit about how Read Bahamas got started. I first become aware of the great literacy need in this country a few years ago when I toured a government high school with the principal. When we stopped in the library, I saw books were scarce, and what was there was old and frankly very boring. The principal, who is a friend of mine, spoke of her wish to have a library that would be stocked and actually used by the students.
After that visit, the Canadian Women’s Club, of which I was the treasurer, generously donated $2,000 to buy books for the school. At the same time, I also began helping out at a local primary school with a reading program, and began stocking their library with new and easy to read books, like Cat in the Hat. As I traveled to the outer islands, I visited several schools and saw the need for fresh reading material there as well.
This is what led to Read Bahamas, whose mission is to help children experience the joy of reading, by providing them access to fun, exciting, interesting books. As with all developing countries, the challenge for the Bahamian government is to adequately fund their school libraries. This lack of books has contributed to a literacy problem in the Bahamas. The government is trying to change this and has put some literacy programs in place. But good books are still key. If a child chooses a book that is boring, they will never want to read another book. Read Bahamas’ goal is for these children to pick a book off the shelf and find it exciting enough to want to try another. Read Bahamas is not about great literature but instead about filling their libraries with popular books… ones that will make a child decide that reading is fun!
To date, Read Bahamas has delivered more than 6,000 books to 47 schools on 17 islands….schools with names like Snug Corner Primary and Deadman’s Cay Primary. Many schools on these small islands are all age schools- one or two room schools with children ranging in age from 4 to 18, and only a couple of teachers to cover all the grades and subjects. I have not been able to visit every school, but I do speak with the Headmaster or mistress of each school before sending them books. They are always surprised at first to hear from me and then delighted with the prospect of getting new books for their childrenIn closing, Read Bahamas would like to thank those who have supported the program through their donations of books and other services. I especially want to thank Ms Louise Meadows and her team at the RBC regional office for handling the shipping to the islands and my husband Ross for not minding that our dining room is always full of boxes of books in varying stages of sorting. "
Thank you all again for your generous support!
The donated books have all been distributed and are being enjoyed by over 15 schools in Exuma, Abaco, and Eleuthera.
"A Room without books is like a body without a soul"
Cicero (106 BC- 43 BC)