Category Archives: A & B Lit News Plus

News of what’s happening literally in Antigua and Barbuda

Boys DO Read

boy reading

This is my nephew, reading.

No. Don’t let the picture fool you. He’s not always found with a book in his hands. But when he is, it’s a beautiful sight wouldn’t you agree?

I decided to share this as a reminder to you – moms, dads, aunts, uncles, big sisters, big brothers et al – to first read to your children and as they grow, encourage them to continue reading. I decided to share this to counter the narrative that boys don’t read. Any child can be drawn in to reading once you find a book with a subject they’re interested in. He and I have read Anansi stories and books by Astrid Lindgren, and watched slavery drama Underground and post apocalyptic drama The Walking Dead (don’t judge me), and SpongeBob (ack), and Toy Story, listened to songs, and debated the outcomes of battles between super hero pairings (I swear his favourite question is “Auntie Joanne who would win in a fight between…”). These are all different forms of storytelling – folktales and fairytales to books to movies to songs to…superheroes. As such they are all fodder for the imagination and for conversation. Meanwhile, it helps build reading, comprehension, critical thinking, creative thinking, and (oral and written) communication skills.

I don’t mean to suggest that getting him to read is easy. It’s decidedly not. It’s been my great sorrow that none of my little ones have taken to reading as I did but ’tis what ’tis – I and his mom, we press on and savour the victories. Which is why she sent me this picture of boy absorbed in book and gave me permission to share it.

Recently, pulling aunt duty I reviewed some of his writing and I have to say it reflected the streak of creative potential I saw in him when he was a wee-er one – and would do things like describe the perfume of the flower ‘ladies of the night’ as God taking a shower or relate a memory of driving down the road we were then driving on for the first time a week earlier in a dream. For sure, all kids have that creative streak as they discover and name the world around them – the way my niece described the feeling of a foot waking up from sleep as “I have glitter in my foot” because that’s what it felt like to her and she didn’t know the ‘proper’ way to describe it. But I will say that, through several nieces and nephews, his stories are some of the strongest I’ve read for his age and I told him what he did well (which was a lot) and what he could do better (which is basically take his time), and he beamed. He is not a still child – unless video games are involved – but he can be still, he can read, and as we continue to encourage it and engage with him in it, the benefits will come through. That’s the hope anyway. I mean, you never know; his big sister is after all still in a book drought after asking me to read Rapunzel over and over in her infanthood – but still she’s emerged in to a young lady with a good vocabulary, strong views, capable and not shy about communicating them; so I have to assume that the efforts to encourage her to read have paid off in other ways. And, who knows, in time she may find a subject that draws her back to books.

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” – Victor Hugo

In the meantime, some of my tips for encouraging your child to read include:

modelling – let them see you reading especially at the age when all they want to be is just like you

read with them – especially at that age when all they want is to do stuff with you (it won’t last)

make it fun – during my time as a volunteer reader with the Cushion Club, I did whatever it took (including turning childhood favourite ‘red light, green light ‘ into a spelling game)

talk to them about what they’ve read – or watched or played or listened to …in time have them practice writing about it too…or drawing it if art is their thing…point is get them to explore what they feel and express it

take them to reading clubs and creative arts camps – there’s no underestimating the power of reading as a social activity – they look forward to it

sign them up for the library or take them book shopping – make it an excursion

set reading goals – my book With Grace was one of the selections over at Cherish 365 when the mom-blogger and her children set themselves a reading goal of, you guessed it, 365 books in 2017

don’t use reading as punishment – also don’t make reading be something they associate only with school – reading is fundamental but it’s also fun

pay attention to what they’re interested in – what is it cooking, football, dolphins? I guarantee you, there’s a book or several hundred about whatever it is out there

encourage books as gifts and package it with something they associate with fun – they’ll be inclined to look more kindly on the book, once they’ve exhausted the other thing

do other things with them – make reading and writing just one of the fun and varied activities you engage in

introduce them to books reflective of their culture – children need to see themselves – here, start here with these books for children by Antiguan and Barbudan

Yohan bookbest-of-books-colouring-book-1with-grace-covergenesis 2

Those are just some of my tips as a writer, reader, aunt and volunteer reader of many years, not to mention founder and coordinator of Wadadli Pen through which we encourage children to write via our ‘annual’ Challenge.

Wadadli Pen 2018 FlyerWhat would you add to the list?

I’m linking this post up with the It’s Monday What Are You Reading #IMWAYR meme – the kid lit edition as found on the Unleashing Readers blog. Seems a good fit.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Oh Gad! ). All Rights Reserved.

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Mark Your Calendars

Wadadli Pen 2018 Flyer
2018 WADADLI YOUTH PEN PRIZE SUBMISSION FORM

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January 14, 2018 · 4:07 pm

History Matters

“The Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) has established a regional committee that will be tasked with recommending ways in which the syllabus for Caribbean History could be revived to make it more attractive to students.

This is in an effort to address the falling numbers of students sitting the exam each year, which the regional examination body highlighted as a major concern in 2016. Myrick Smith, the CXC registrar for Antigua and Barbuda, said, on the weekend, that Alan Cobley, vice chancellor at the University of the West Indies (UWI), received the mandate in December during a meeting of CXC’s council in St. Kitts.

He said delegates at that meeting made several recommendations to improve the syllabus and it is now up to Cobley and his team to determine the next course of action. The recommendations include: making Caribbean History compulsory, pushing governments and education ministries into taking history more seriously and placing more emphasis on training for history teachers.” Read more.

I found this article troubling when I read it today because I think history matters; I especially think it matters if you are from – as we are primarily in the Caribbean – the descendants of people who were enslaved for hundreds of years, for generations, in this Caribbean. I think we need to know who we were before that i.e. our African history, how our journey shapes or was shaped by others i.e. World history, and how we became who we are today i.e. our Caribbean history. I think knowing your history informs not only the decisions you make today but the passions that fire you. I frankly didn’t learn much beyond plantation society during my secondary school days but I remain to this day a student of World, African, and Caribbean history. On the point of Caribbean history though, if we only knew. I question, for instance, how quick we would be to fritter away land rights if we understood how hard-earned it was, how tightly we would hold workers’ rights if we understood its role in building the institutions that hold up our society today, how much more we would understand our potential if we could see the men and women who emerged from our humble societies to greatness, how much more certain would we be of who we are if we understood who we have been (community, culture, character, values, identity, all of that). Our history tells us about ourselves and there is so much about ourselves we still don’t know. My two cents about ways to make history more engaging include field trips and tours to historically relevant sites (I’ve done it in writing and media workshops and seen how the participants’ curiosity opens up as they look at somewhere they’ve never seen or somewhere they are seeing with new eyes),

DYA

One of my youth media workshops included a field trip to former plantation Betty’s Hope…but there is so much more to explore.

introduce audio-visual presentations (if there isn’t local media content and there should be options include youtube or creating content as class projects), creating content as class projects (have the students engage with the material in tactile, interactive, and imaginative ways), getting creative (Brenda Lee Browne’s Just Write held a workshop last year about building creative content from our historical reality, something like that); in fact, on that last point, I’m considering making our next Wadadli Pen Challenge a historical fiction challenge with the double challenge that it be experimental (to break with the obvious clichés). I’m thinking on it and will probably discuss with my partners. Bottom line though, history is important but it’s not just dates to be remembered; it’s lives that were lived and as far as Caribbean history is concerned, it’s lives with a direct link to our own. If we agree that we matter then surely our history does too.

 

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and With Grace; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

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Media Report: Moondancer

Well, you knew this already, because we blasted it here back in September, but for the record…

Author, Floree Williams Whyte has released a new children’s book in time for Christmas entitled “The Wonderful World Of Yohan.”

It is a collection of stories about Yohan, a young boy with a vivid imagination and a taste for adventure that lead him into “accidental mischief.”

The author was thinking of a readership between the ages of seven and ten years old when she wrote the book. It was published by Moondancer Books, an Antiguan-based publishing company established by Whyte in early 2017.

“I decided to start a publishing company after realising that there were very few avenues for Caribbean-Based books,” she has explained. “Yohan has been ready to make his appearance for a while now and I am happy to introduce him to the world via Moondancer Books.”

Read more.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and With Grace; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

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REMINDER

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January 3, 2018 · 3:55 pm

Jhohadli Writing Project – You don’t have to be in Antigua to Participate

That’s right. For the first time, I’m opening up one of my creative writing workshops beyond who’s in the room.

In both cases – if you’re in Antigua or not – email me jhohadli at gmail dot com for registration details. Try to do so by January 5th as the plan is for the advance kits (which includes preliminary reading) to go out at least a week before the first session (January 13th 2018).

I can tell you that this workshop series will be ongoing with each series focusing on a different aspect of writing, through a combination of engagement with the writing of others, instruction, discussion, writing, and critiquing. The first series’ focus will be on setting.

So if this is an area you’d like to dive in to, explore, improve in – in either the writing or understanding of, contact me.

Promo Flyer corrected

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Caribbean Colouring Books

One came in to my mailbox recently and I decided to mention it but to use the opportunity to shout out a couple others I’m aware of as well.

colouring book

This is the one that landed in my mailbox via Barbados’ Chattel House Books. It looks like a combo colouring and activity book, and is described as a Kiddies Caribbean Heritage Activity Book. Someone asked me recently about a book for kids depicting Carnival; seems like this would be a good fit for that request, right?

danielle

I recently suggested this colouring book by Trinidad and Tobago artist Danielle Boodoo Fortune to a local bookstore given the popularity of adult colouring books – as stress relief. This looks like one I could have fun with. I am biased, of course, by the fact that I love this artist’s art and that she illustrated my latest book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure.

best-of-books-colouring-book-1

This one I used to work on with one of my nephews. It’s an Antiguan and Barbudan colouring book by Wadadli Pen partner, writer, and bookstore manager Barbara Arrindell with illustrations by Edison Liburd – a past Wadadli Pen patron and another artist whose work I like. This one highlights places and spaces emblematic of Antiguan and Barbudan culture. And as indicated from my own experience great for adults to do with the kids in their lives.

This sub-genre seems far from saturated, a google search for ‘Caribbean Colouring Book’ to fill out this post turning up the older Macmillan’s Caribban A-Z and Caribbean Sights and Scenes colouring books, a Pirates of the Caribbean Colouring Book – neither of which, obviously, would have grown organically out of the Caribbean, and US born, global artist raised in Trinidad Jade Gedeon’s Island Escape.142437

What say you? Is the Caribbean colouring book market primed for explosion or what? or don’t kids colour anymore? or is my Google-fu broken?

Anyway, happy to share these finds.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). Excerpting, reblogging, linking etc. is fine, but PLEASE do not lift ANY content (images or text) wholesale from this site without asking first and crediting the creator of that work and/or copyright holder. All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

 

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