A partnership between Saint Lucia Books, a newly established bookshop, and Alliance Française has given impetus to efforts to promote reading in Saint Lucia, especially among children.
Reading is a way to open the mind, develop the imagination and creativity of children and inspire the dreams and ambitions of readers. During May, which is observed as reading month in Saint Lucia, a robust programme put on through a joint effort by the two entities added substantial value and heightened the profile of reading month. The Alliance Française/ Saint Lucia Books calendar for the month launched with Martha Blanchard, author of The Plum Tree, reading a chapter from her book to Form 1 and 2 Alliance Française students, followed by animated debate on the story and its parallels to everyday life and their own experience. This was followed by visits to several schools by teams from Alliance Française with authors carried by Saint Lucia Books reading stories to children. The featured writers were Petra Auguste (Chief Tree), June Frederick (Piti Kon Nou Piti), Jacintha Annius Lee (Compère Lapin Tales) and A.D. L. French (The Peanut Series). In addition to school visits, classes were also hosted at Alliance Française for the same purpose.
With Alliance Française having recently offered a home to the previously mobile bookshop, a major highlight of the month was the official opening of Saint Lucia Books’ bookstore and its coffee shop Café Littéraire on May 20th. The coffee shop experience has the aim of attracting general patronage, which can lead to exploration of the bookshop, browsing and, ultimately, book sales for the featured Saint Lucian authors.
Attending the formal launch was H.E Dame Pearlette Louisy, Governor General of Saint Lucia and Patron of the Nobel Laureate Festival, and H.E Mr. Philippe Ardanaz, French Ambassador to the OECS and Barbados in Saint Lucia. The Rusting Gate, the very first collection of poems by Hon. Charles Cadet, at 92 years old, was also spotlighted. A visual display featuring book reviews written in French by students of Alliance Française was another interesting feature of the launch.
According to Sabrina Lipoff, Deputy Director of Alliance Française, while it was a successful reading month, these activities must not be limited to May. “It is an effort that we have to make throughout the year,” she said. “We hope the relationship we are now creating with the teachers will help motivate the students to read more. And with the new partnership we have with Saint Lucia books, I am absolutely confident we will have a positive impact”.
Principals and teachers interested in participating in the initiative are asked to contact Alliance Française and Saint Lucia Books.