Bright-eyed students at Prospect Primary welcomed a special, though familiar, guest today, one bearing gifts for learning to aid in their educational development.

On the occasion of World Book Day, United States Consul General, Ms. Karen Grissette, made a special delivery of the popular The Boxcar Children sequence of novels, which had students turning pages with delight, as they sought to resolve the mysteries contained therein.

Ms Grissette, who was making her second formal visit to the Devonshire institution, was elated to have been able to assist on behalf of the U.S. Consulate, as part of her mission to deepen the strong economic and cultural ties between the U.S. and Bermuda.

“It is such an honour to be invited to Prospect Primary School for a second year,” said Ms Grissette, now in her second year occupying the office. “The consulate has been doing this for many years to share our love of reading and books with the children of Prospect Primary School and to be able to present a new series of many books of The Boxcar Children series, a story written by an American author a long time ago, is an honour and it’s great that this school requested to do a series throughout the year, as a reading program.

“So we are honoured to engage with the school, the wonderful teachers, administrators, readings specialist and particularly the children at prospect primary.

“We’ve engaged with many schools in Bermuda, giving books and fearing reading programs.

“Reading is the key to success in life and the teachers here know that, which is why they have selected a series that you can see how the children are so excited about and have already started reading them.”

As grateful as Ms Grissette was honoured, school principal Dr Holly Richardson, reiterated the value of reading as a fundamental tool, enabling the maturation process and progression through all facets of life.

“We are grateful to Consul General Grissette for coming to be with us today,” said Dr Richardson. “We are most thankful for her support of our school over the past two years.

“Even during Covid, just her making the time and going the extra mile to make the online experience that we had last year, really meaningful to the children.
“We are thankful for her coming and presenting the books and then to be willing to support our young people again this year is just phenomenal.
“As you can see, the students love the reading time. They have great interest in mystery and we want to pique that and use that to help to propel them, as they become better readers.

“We are thankful for today and thankful for her support.”

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income.
UNESCO has a goal of seeing more children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, exhibit a life-long habit of reading for pleasure and the improved life chances this brings them.

World Book Day was created by UNESCO on 23rd April 1995 as a worldwide celebration of books and reading and is marked in over 100 countries around the globe.

The first World Book Day in the UK and Ireland took place in 1997 to encourage young people to discover the pleasure of reading.

Nevertheless, many of Bermuda’s youngsters struggle with reading, something that Dr Richardson and her varied squad of educators are keen to resolve.

“We have many who have a reading difficulties,” she explained. “Many read at different paces. They have different needs. And it is not just boys versus girls. It is just to do with a child’s learning style.

“So we are doing what we can to make sure that we tap into those things and especially tap into students interests.
“Of course, everyone here is involved in reading, with our reading teacher, Ms Simons, leading that charge.
“She is in all of our classrooms every day giving special reading support with skills for literacy.

“Then we have our classroom teachers who have reading programs through which they are working with the children. “We also have some interventions that are going on with individual students, which is where I have teachers, who are not necessarily their classroom teachers, but who are giving additional support to students and I am one of those.

“I have two children that I am seeing two times a week and just knowing that there is a wide variety of genres that children can be exposed to is helping them to understand that they can find something that they love to read.”

Meanwhile, Ms Grissette noted her pleasure at being currently assigned a station in Bermuda, as part of a two-decade long career of foreign service that has included stops in Hawaii, Greece, Tanzania, Jamaica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I’ve been here for a year and a half now,” said Ms Grissette. “I love the job. I love the people of Bermuda. I love the work and the relationship between Bermuda and the United States of America.

“It is very strong and multifaceted. It goes across sectors economic, cultural, business security, so this is an honour to have this component of our relationship on display today.

“I try to follow what’s going on in Bermuda. It’s a wonderful place. A small place. It’s been a great opportunity to meet people from all sectors of society and to see where Bermuda can strengthen our already very strong relationship.

“I did not know much about Bermuda. But now my Family have visited and I love it and I’ll definitely be a lifelong visitor to Bermuda.”

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