Staff Writer – Katrin Callender

I was excited to learn about International Literacy Day. I smiled constantly as the day approached. I had my library books and an awesome bookmark from the library listing contact information for all its branches.

I could barely contain my joy. Few people understood what was behind the broad grin and Pollyanna spirit.

But I would not stop to explain. I was not going to let anything steal one second of my attention or take away even a drop of bliss from my celebration.

I joined the library at age seven and I visited it nearly every day after school. It is one of the most sacred spaces I can think of when I sit down to reflect upon my life.

I walk through those most beloved doors and up -what feels to me- a grand staircase and into the adult library in our nation’s capital city, Port of Spain; and I know few other things that bring me pleasure.

Or I walk mere minutes from my doorstep to the nearest branch- a cozy space- and I feel so connected to the rest of the world by the information contained within its modest selection of books.

This year-on International Literacy Day- a few Saturdays ago, I had another delightful blast from the past. I wound up curled up in front of the television set watching children’s programming.

Between the Lions. Photo courtesy gpb.org

Now one might assume that this negates the importance of International Literacy Day. But I quite disagree. Many young people would not have the voracious appetite for books that they do were it not for programmes such as Wishbone and Between the Lions, which make classic literature accessible and appealing to this very fastidious age group.

So I sat up in the sofa, quite emotional because I was transported to a time where I would solve the mysteries and go on adventures, learning something new and brilliant all the while.

Indeed, as SuperWhy progressed, I felt compelled to shout answers at the screen and use the power of spelling, right along with the television audience and the superheroes.

The books I have enjoyed, the intelligence and wit of their respective authors and the imaginative worlds I have been transported to over the years, are a testament to the powerful role that reading plays in our lives.  I certainly hope that more of us remember to celebrate literacy and its contribution to our development.