Tag Archives: children reading

Let The Children Read

I read anything I could get my hands on growing up. I think for my generation, parents had a “reading = good” mindset, so maybe didn’t pay as much attention to what we were reading. So I read some things that would have as my parents would put it (if they knew) opened my mind too early. On the other side of it (as a writer, an aunt, a volunteer reader, someone who runs youth programmes), I still say, let the children read. I mean with censorship on the rise, we’re policing books but letting them loose on the wild wild west that is social media and the internet generally? Make it make sense. They play video games and spend unsupervised hours on tik tok and it’s cool cause they’re quiet when chances are the content they’re engaging with their is less age-appropriate and more harmful (e.g. the toxic ideas of the manosphere). As one of my nephews recently retorted, they don’t even have to go looking for it. I’m not for demonizing any of the conduits to content but I do encourage engagement (i.e. engage with them about what they’re playing, reading, or watching…and do other things with them; touch grass, as the kids would say).

These musings prompted by a quote from Judy Blume, author of one of my favourite childhood books Are You, There God? It’s Me, Margaret, in a recent LitHub email.

“Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear.”

Bottom line.

For children’s books from Antigua and Barbuda, see our list, here. I’ll pull out some of the ones I’ve read or written to get you started:

Jumbled (placing a Caribbean folk character in a classroom in Britain) and Turtle Beach (the Barbara Arrindell environmental-themed book about turtle watching and birthdays) were illustrated by Zavian Archibald who, also, illustrated the original edition (Fish Outta Water) of the book by me that became Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure (this latter edition illustrated by Trinbagonian artist Danielle Boodoo Fortune). Teaser: Zavian and I teamed up on a project dropping this year, peep it on my Books page.

Speaking of Arrindell, add her history-inspired The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Other Stories, and the activity and colouring book that is good for a parent-younger child or do-it-alone activity, Antigua My Antigua, beautifully rendered with art by Edison Liburd.

Like Turtle and my own The Jungle Outside, Desryn Collins’ How to be a Calypsonian is tailor-made for Caribbean kids as part of Harper Collins series of #ownvoices children’s books.

The Little Rude Boys is written by local children and deals with childhood interaction and at least one really heavy issue – I’m not thrilled with the race swapped re-marketing (you can google the new cover to see what I mean) but the story itself is a reminder that children can write their reality.

All the Ashley Bryan books – they have amassed arm fulls of awards for text and illustration – can’t go wrong. The ones I’ve read (or remember reading) are The Sun is So Quiet, Beautiful Blackbird (I’ve even used this one in my teaching workshops and think this book could inspire craft activity among younger children), and The Dancing Granny (an Anansi tale ripe for adaptation; just ask the teens in my Musical Youth).

Shadows on the Moon by Jolyon Byerly was a Cushion Club read and I seem to remember Althea Prince’s How the East Pond got its Flowers being a book club favourite – it’s certainly a favourite of mine and such a good way of introducing the hard topic of slavery to children.

Rachel Collis’ Emerald Isle of Adventure is set in Montserrat (which is where S E James’ similarly boy-centric series begins with Tragedy on Emerald Island before moving to Antigua with A Narrow Escape and Kidnapped at the Beach – she has another book set deep in the bush or maybe another dimension in Dominica, Forest Fever). As with Carol Faye George’s Mari Warner, which is basically an environmental pamphlet in book form, and the first of Omari Jeremiah’s Paperboy, about the self-made superhero in the NY public school system, these were review copies.

I also books that I saw in earlier drafts as an editor, like Fashanu Henry-Giddings’ Reading is Fun & Andre and the Bully, and Margaret Irish’s A is for Arawak. and Dance on the Moon and The Wonderful World of Yohan both by Floree Williams Whyte.

As for my books, in addition to the ones mentioned there’s my Caribbean faerie tale With Grace and I’ve also listed Breaking with Tradition, a Caribbean-Christmas-themed anthology which includes a child-centered story of mine, but which I also remmeber including things like recipies you could probably do with your child – some of that engagement I was talking about.

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, Oh Gad!Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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