Studying for Cayman’s school children might be far from normal right now, but they can at least curl up with a good book and practice their reading skills thanks to more than a thousand books that have been donated to children during lockdown through the Literacy is For Everyone (LIFE) programme.
Since lockdown, 1,434 books have been donated to Cayman’s students, including to those students who don’t have access to the internet or a computer at home, or who don’t have access to a ready supply of books. The books have been donated to seven public schools on Grand Cayman and the project has supported 461 students so far.
LIFE Project Coordinator Erin Galatopoulos said: “All books are like new or ‘pre-loved’ books that LIFE has received via donation. Each book was hand-selected personally for each student by an exempt employee of the school to match each student's reading level, age and interests. While this took extra time for everyone involved, the process increases the likelihood that students will both read and benefit from these books.”
Prior to lockdown, LIFE volunteers researched the level of each book donated and that level was noted on the book. In this way, students are able to receive books aligned to their personal reading level and reading goals. In addition to these levelled books, many students also received unlevelled fun books – activity books, hobby books and books with Disney characters – to inspire a love of books.
“Books were included with the packets handed out to students after the announcement of school closure until 30th June, thereby reducing the contact points during lockdown, something which we at LIFE take very seriously,” Erin stated.
Response from teachers to LIFE’s targeted book donation has been enthusiastic.
Jessica Jackson, Deputy Principal at East End Primary School, said: “We thank LIFE for their continued support of our students. The books will certainly be well read and well loved.”
Dairdie Tingle, from Savannah Primary School, joined in the praise: “A huge thank you to LIFE! I know that the students and their parents will be appreciative. It takes a village... thank you,” she said.
Victoria Read, from George Town Primary School, added her words of gratitude: “Thank you so much for helping us to get books for our students to read during this remote learning period. It is really appreciated by the staff and the students,” she said.
LIFE Executive Director Marilyn Conolly advised that LIFE always welcomes book donations as they are sorely needed.
“We are working towards a community book drive and establishing a drop off location with appropriate protocols during lockdown,” she explained. “However, in the meantime, please box up and set aside any children's books that are no longer being read in your household. A book drive is coming soon!”