Children are reading less due to the various forms of entertainment available to them on electronic devices.

So said Communications Minister Symon de Nobriga at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Port of Spain, during the 13th appreciation ceremony for first-time authors hosted by Nalis (National Library and Information System Authority on July 26.

De Nobriga said however that the answer does not lie in depriving them of their devi­ces but rather in ensuring that their devices are equipped with apps that help them to appreciate reading more.

“The answer lies in us telling our stories, and in us writing our stories so that generations after will benefit from their telling, and in us, as adults, reading more and encouraging our children to read more,” De Nobriga said.

Sixty-one new authors were celebrated at Nalis’ appreciation ceremony. De Nobriga said literature is a mirror reflecting how the society works and functions.

“In the modern world, the role of literature in society assumes added significance because of the impact it creates by shifting, refining and reshaping our thoughts and behaviour. Literature chronicles our history, and tells the stories not only of our current struggles but also of our evolved perspectives of the people, places and events that have also brought us to this particular place in time. In doing so, it also reflects our evolution and growth as individuals and as a whole.”

He added: “I cannot tell you how in awe of you all I am, not just the talent but the courage to put your thoughts, to put your words down on paper, to create these worlds, to teach these lessons to your readers.”

De Nobriga said he wants to see an expansion of the appreciation ceremony not only to those who have ventured into printed work but to those engaged in producing new work in other media.

Promoting literacy

Nalis executive director Paula Greene said that being a Nalis first-time author has opened doors for many of the previous cohort of first-timers, noting the 61 authors would be added to the 488 authors from this country who had been celebrated since the start of pro­gramme, in commemoration of World Book and Copyright Day in 2010.

“Several authors have been featured in the local and regional press, at the first-time authors’ exhibition and on Nalis’ website at www.nalis.gov.tt. Through our corporate First-Time Authors’ Appreciation Programme, held across our network of libraries, authors are offered the opportunity to conduct book readings, book signings, book talks and tours.

“We therefore encourage you to grasp these opportunities when they arise. Also, we encourage you all to keep on writing. Whether fact or fiction, continue to give ‘voice’ to your thoughts, feelings and experiences,” Greene said.

She said the first-time authors programme helps to preserve Nalis’ national heritage information and promote literacy.

“Nalis has been encouraged by the impact of this programme on national development as it has grown in popularity and prestige over the years. We firmly believe that books and the written word are sources of empowerment and records of our nation’s history,” Greene said.

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