JIS News

Reading for children, up to the age of eight years, is expected to be a more enjoyable activity, with the publication of the latest in a series of engaging and informative children’s books written by Jamaican author, Kellie Magnus.
Miss Magnus presented a copy of the book, entitled ‘Little Lion Goes for Gold’, to the Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, during a handing-over ceremony at the Ministry in Kingston yesterday (Feb. 5).
The book is the third in the series and features the same character from the previous books, a six-year-old Rastafarian boy growing up in Jamaica. In this adventure, he aims to win a medal at a Prep School athletics championship.The series involves him going through different challenges and learning lessons with the help of his father.
The inspiration for the series came out of the realisation that there was a lack of Jamaican and Caribbean children’s books available for Jamaican children, Miss Magnus told JIS News.
“All the children in my family were really getting attached to these American television characters. None of them had anything to do with our life, our culture and our values, and I was surprised by that,” she said.
The author said she wanted to create a character that had “the same look and feel and fun of the characters that they (children) liked, but that was from our culture and who would talk about things in our history and things in our lives, and most of all reflect Caribbean values.”
Mr. Holness said he was impressed with the series’ contribution to promoting literacy.
He pointed out that the Ministry was about to launch a massive intervention to try and raise the level literacy in schools, generally, and to promote the importance of acquiring literacy skills.
He noted that it would be good to have a character that the children could identify with, and hinted that ‘Little Lion’ was a “prime candidate” as the character representing literacy.
The books are available in some schools now, Miss Magnus explained.
“I think the first one, ‘Little Lion Goes to School’, is on the supplementary reading list. But, we do sell directly to schools and to libraries, and there are a lot of teachers who use the books in the classrooms,” she noted.
She said that for each book a teacher’s guide is developed, which shows how the story can be integrated into different subject areas.
“Those materials are available for free on our website, jackmandora.com, and so we have teachers who download those teacher’s guides and use them in their different classrooms,” Miss Magnus said.
She added that she was currently working on two new projects: creating e-books, which would mean putting the books on CDs, with the stories narrated, and developing interactive materials with ‘Little Lion’ teaching different parts of the school curriculum.
“What I want is to create a positive Jamaican character that Jamaican children can relate to, that goes through things that they go through, that looks and feels and sounds like them, that can also teach them something that is positive and uplifting,” she explained.

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