Reading and storytelling

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By Erma M. Cuizon

Sun.Star Essay

Sunday, July 6, 2014


IT'S heartening to know that some citizen groups in the country are giving passionate time to help children form values they can use in their life, including the ability to connect with others in the community, in storytelling and read-aloud activities, like the I Love to Read project of Basadours.

Last week, I watched Literary Festival, or LitFest, presented by Little Boy Productions and USC Cebuano Studies Center which was a whole day’s affair happily enmeshed on the latest in arts from music to theater, literature, even journalism. I was pleased to find out that there are more projects on the importance of children reading aloud and storytelling.

The I Love to Read project, for one, has been put together by young professionals and student advocates who call themselves Basadours. With the cooperation of the Cebu City Public Library head Rosario Chua, Basadours organized a meeting of reading advocates at the library in a gathering called Panagtambayayong. For her part, Chua has encouraged barangays to have reading centers for children to improve on the number existing—only 37 centers out of 80 barangays.

The Basadours inspires young professionals and students who help organize activities on reading for children. The organization wants to help encourage mothers in the country, especially in the towns, to read aloud or to tell stories to children early so they would later do better in school.
Janet Jumawan, mother of a little storyteller/reader named Jamaica, has trained her daughter to listen or read even way back before the small girl went to school. And she can tell the difference between the all-play children growing up and the little storytellers/readers. Some analysts say it’s best for mothers to read aloud even to infants. From birth, the process begins with rhyming, talking, singing.

Have you noticed how a child reacts to children’s stories?

In an interview, a couple of 4th Graders from Barangay Sambag II hung on to my questions eagerly. Janet’s daughter, Jamaica, looked joyfully expectant as our talk started. I asked the other girl for her name. Smiling, Ashanti reached out to a clean sheet of paper and quickly but carefully wrote “Ashanti Shaine Kim Posadas.” She was set for the interview. There would hopefully be more children with her luster.

The Basadours, founded by lawyer Melvin Legaspi, is so-called from the word basa or “read” and with members as passionate envoys or ambassadors of the activity of storytelling and reading aloud by and to children.

Storytelling, which must have been a serious activity or an afternoon play of very young children in the towns during the Spanish times, continued to our own time but only in some families.

I remember the storytelling time in the house in my pre-school days in the mid-’40s as I listened to my favorite kusinera-cum-yaya telling me the stories she inherited from her grandparents who got them generations back from the pre-Spanish tribal tutors. While our yaya cooked, I would wait in the kitchen for the pork to simmer as the house chef told her stories.

Then there is what appears to be a time of the child sort of outgrowing the scene. I went on to high school while the stories told by yaya Inday Columba were received by the younger siblings in their turn.

Still, there is the need to look into the worth of the lessons learned and the enjoyment earned by the juvenile listeners. That’s what the Basadours and other organizations are working on—storytelling sessions for children and their mothers, coordinating with barangay leaders, like in Barangay Sambag II with Councilor Jaime Moreno.

Mothers are also a huge factor in the success of projects touching on the child's early formation. Janet is keeping up with her reading daughter.
The point is that a look-out is needed to make sure that the right books are made available to help children form the right values of love not only of family and friends but also of nature’s ways in our universe. And there should be more children’s books in Cebuano.

***

(ecuizon@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 06, 2014.

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