Before an eager group of young scholars, Lt. Governor Tregenza Roach officially kicked off the 11th Annual Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge on St. Thomas at Yvonne Milliner-Bowsky Elementary School on Wednesday morning.
An author of children’s books himself, and a former journalist and professor at the University of the Virgin Islands, the Lt. Governor emphasized the importance of writing and reading to the group of about 50 students.
“The world is changing in every moment. Every moment this island is changing, and we have to remember how it was; we have to think about where we are going, and we have to think about what we want to share that makes us unique and special,” he said, noting that he used his book – “The Lesson Box,” which was illustrated by St. John artist Karen Samuel – to teach children a little bit about Caribbean culture.
“When we as writers do our job, we observe. Too very often in this time, people are not paying attention to what is going on around them, and a writer calls your attention to what’s happening around you,” Lt. Governor Roach told his rapt audience. “When you are reading all these books this summer, I also want you, when you are outside getting some fresh air, or you’re getting some sunshine, I want you to look at the trees, and I want you to ask people questions so that you can learn.”
The Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge is a program running through September 30, 2019 that encourages students in grades K-6 to read five or more books during the summer. It is designed to encourage students to maintain critical literacy skills during the summer months, and the books are provided by the Office of the Governor and the V.I. Department of Education and written and illustrated by Virgin Islanders or persons from other Caribbean islands.
Students who read at least five books during the summer are invited to a party after the 2019-2020 school year begins.
Before the students were given a copy of one of the books on this year’s summer reading list, the Lt. Governor offered words of hope and encouragement to the young writers in the audience.
“You have books that are inside you because one day you are going to want to share your perspective, your point of view, your experiences with the world,” he said. “You are going to write books as well, and this is how you begin – by paying attention. By thinking. By slowing down sometimes and observing. By listening to all the people who are trying to share information.”
For more information about the 2019 Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge, go to www.readfive.org.