How a mom helped her sons develop a love for reading Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Among the champions in the 2021 National Reading Competition is a duo from the Clarendon Parish Library Network, who share more than just a love for reading.

Fellow contestants may have noticed that the 9-11 National Champion, Kyle Bennett, calls the 21 and over National Champion, Marjorie Howitt Bennett, “Mom”.

An educator, Bennett said she became a member of the library from a very young age as she held a love for books. This was later shown in her children.

“The librarians there [at the Clarendon Parish Library] were used to seeing me twice on weekdays as I went to exchange the books I had read. Years later, I would sit with my sons in that same library from when they were just a few months old, reading to them, allowing them to touch the books, and as I hoped, they too began to read and appreciate the written word really early,” the mother of two explained.

Her younger son, Kyle, got the opportunity to become a member of the library early as he would always complain that he did not want to use his mother’s ticket, but wanted his own.

Bennett pointed out, however, that the future champion did not like to read for himself during those younger years.

“The books that I bought him would just sit on his shelf unless someone read to him, and so I decided to let him enter the National Reading Competition as soon as he turned six. As I expected, he was very distraught when he did not win because he had not read all the books,” she said.

This turn of events motivated young Kyle to develop a love for reading, as “he likes to excel at anything he does”.

He entered the competition again in 2018 and 2020 but was unsuccessful in claiming the national title.

In 2021, he made another entry, but this time with his mother.

“He and my older son signed me up for the competition, as well, and I was rather surprised when I got a call reminding me to pick up the material to read. I was reluctant at first because of time constraints, but my sons and a few of the librarians persuaded me,” Bennett said.

No stranger to the contest, Bennett had entered in 2006, and she was crowned the National Runner-Up for that year.

Fifteen years later and now with her son, the duo endured rounds of competition at the parish level and then the national level. Finally, the 2021 winners were announced.

“It was an amazing feeling hearing my son’s name and then mine being announced as the national champions,” she recalled.

The two, as well as other national champions and runners-up, received prizes from various sponsors in a presentation ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on August 26.

Kyle, now 10, moved on to second form at Glenmuir High School in Clarendon, at the start of the new school year in September.

Bennett hailed the contest for being “a good example for my sons, my students and all the youngsters whose lives I touch”.

“I hope that more adults will get up and lead the younger generation, not just by preaching to them, but by doing it with them,” she added.

The National Reading Competition is an initiative of the Jamaica Library Service and has been held consecutively for the past 35 years. It is the flagship event of the organisation, which is aimed at fostering a love for reading, literature and literacy in general.

— JIS News