September 23, 2020

Book donations breathe LIFE into Cayman Islands’ classroom libraries


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Sir John A. Cumber Primary School () has accepted a donation of over 3500 reading books, believed to be the largest recorded gift of reading materials given to a Government school in Cayman.

The contribution was organised by charitable organisation Literacy Is For Everyone () and was the result of a partnership between , private firms and Walkers, and members of Cayman Prep’s High School Key Club and Primary School Student Council, and presented in December 2016.
The majority of books will go toward creating individual classroom libraries at the school which is part of LIFE’s efforts to give students greater access to reading materials. The in-class levelled libraries are part of a structured, independent reading programme and will also assist with LIFE’s paired reading initiative. The availability of reading materials is the first essential element in the creation of supportive literacy environments. Class libraries provide access to a range of levelled reading materials to stimulate and develop all students’ love of reading. Research has indicated that a child who reads voluntarily reads more often.

Almost two thousand of the books were collected in a book drive organised by the Cayman Prep & High School’s Key Club and their Primary School’s Student Council and another 700 were donated by Walkers through an internal campaign. KPMG then used volunteers from their staff to level and sticker the books so they could be distributed to the correct grade level within the school. Hon. Tara Rivers, Minister for Education said, “It continues to be a real pleasure to partner with LIFE, Walkers, KPMG, and service organisations like Key Club. LIFE has consistently helped support reading development across government schools along with our other community partners. The money and time they have devoted is truly appreciated and will positively impact students at SJACPS.” Minister Rivers went on to say, “It is essential that students have a variety of interesting books that are readily available and easy to access. LIFE and their partners have just made it easier to put quality books into the hands of our students.”

In addition to levelled readers for the classroom, a significant number of hardcover books were donated to SJACPS’s library collections, which students and teachers have access to.
LIFE and the Ministry of Education are currently working on an initiative to establish in-class levelled libraries in every Key Stage 1 Government classroom which covers Years 1-3. LIFE and their partners have helped SJACPS move toward their goal of 15 books for every child and LIFE is continuing to raise funds for their Classroom Libraries Project. Mr. Brad Wilson, Literacy Specialist in the Ministry of Education said, “I would also like to thank LIFE for their partnership and support in this project to establish in-class levelled libraries at all Government schools. This is an ambitious undertaking that, once completed, will make a tremendous impact in the lives of each student in the primary schools.”

Classroom libraries are one piece of the puzzle needed to support literacy instruction in the public school system. Ms. Marilyn Conolly, Executive Director for LIFE said, “In-class levelled libraries provide much needed books while children are still in the stage of ‘learning to read’ and prevent the later problems encountered when illiterate children are in high school and are ‘reading to learn’. LIFE remains committed to promoting literacy and a love of reading, while also providing successful literacy interventions through our many programmes and with the support of the community. Together we can ensure that all children will leave primary school with a love of reading.”

To get more information about how you can be a part of the Classroom Libraries Project, please email LIFE at: [email protected] or call 938-6300.

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