Parents reminded that love of reading starts at home

The Samoa Stationery and Books has closed out their Literacy Week programme with a message to parents to encourage their children to love reading.

The annual week long programme conducted by S.S.A.B. outside their mega-store involved students from various schools and backgrounds and had guest authors come in to read to them.

Saturday's special guest author was the "Telesa" trilogy mastermind, Lani Wendt Young.

Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai said the significant thing about this year's programme was the many new faces.

"S.S.A.B. has always been strong in advocating education with a special literacy program every year, and I think the great thing about this year is that it brought in all these different types of kids from everywhere, I have never seen some of these kids before," the President and Chief Executive Officer of S.S.A.B. said.

"And a lot of these kids need these kinds of activities [and] it should be on-going."

Tofilau also expressed her appreciation for Dr. Shannon Whitwell, an Australian volunteer, who has been coordinating the programmes plus the Rotary Club, which has been giving out free books. The Ministry of Education was acknowledged as a constant partner in literacy week.

"And with Dr. [Whitwell] we're very [grateful] to the Australian Government with having here and she really coordinates our program, our library and reading programs. there have been a lot of improvement with some of employees' kids [that] have come to the programme," she said.

"I can see that she has instilled the love of reading in them, even my kids are blessed to have her; she is very well-structured.

"And Rotary too, I must thank them, they're giving them free books."

"M.E.S.C. has always been our partner throughout the years in promoting literacy so next year we will try and make it more fun but this year has been very fun."

But Tofilau said although there are plans to make the literacy program next year bigger and better, a love of learning always starts from within homes.

"I as a parent try my best to make sure my kids read every day, or [that] they should have books to read," said the mother of four boys.

"You know, every parent should encourage [the] kids to read; the lesson starts from home. And also the teachers are helping the kids in school but it's really the home, this goes hand-in-hand."

The Rotary Club of Apia (R.C.A.) has contributed to the Governemnt's efforts by delivering more than a million books to schools throughout Upolu, Manono and Savaii in addition to school furniture and a variety of educational materials.

Dr. Whitwell, who is in Samoa for two years, told the Samoa Observer she had a great week with the children and hopes that they will carry on reading in their homes.

"They'll be taking their books home and hopefully they'll be reading at home and we'll see literacy improve in Samoa," she said.

"I'd love to just see kids excited about learning and seeing reading as fun, especially the kids that find reading hard, I want to help them the most.

"So that they see books as an enjoyable thing and not as something that is difficult and they don't like to do."

"Reading at home is so important she said, saying even if it is just one day a book with your child.

"If you dont have any books at home you can read the newspaper.

"You can look for letters in the newspaper, so you might try and find all the 'a's in the paper and circle them; you can read menus, you can read street signs.

"They're the first steps to reading if you don't have books at home."

She said she has seen some improvement in the students who find it hard to read albeit with "small steps". 

"Some kids are still learning their sounds but that is the first step to reading, so they need to learn their sounds first and then one day we'll see them as good readers," she said. 

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