Monday, July 26, 2010

Presenting books to the Prime Minister of Jamaica

Well, certainly one of the highlights of our week was presenting copies of our books to the Honourable Bruce Golding, the Prime Minister of Jamaica. This was organised by Veronica Carnegie, the truly live wire of the trio that did the signing of books at Things Jamaican at Devon House (a previous blog). So Veronica Carnegie, Hazel Campbell and I presented our latest books. The Prime Minister was very charming, showed genuine interest in the material and we are indeed very grateful to him for taking time to see us. Indeed, examples like this help to foster understanding of the importance of reading.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Stereotypes and making meaning in Caribbean children's books

I had a thought. I started out in my blog by considering stereotypes and the quaint in Caribbean Children's Literature. My present thought is about 'making meaning'. I love that expression.

When running children's writing workshops we usually say: a story has to have conflict to be interesting; 1)conflict between the protagonist and the villain, the universal theme of good versus evil; 2) conflict between the protagonist and nature - surviving a hurricane; 3) conflict with self - the protagonist has a bad habit like lying which he/she has to overcome.

However, it occurs to me that making meaning is equally (also?) important. You see, making meaning (which I refer to in a previous post which I was unable to post, but will soon, and now that post begins to make meaning for me) is integral to our understanding of ourselves. You explain something to me and I understand; I work though something, my own story (with reference to the protagonist) I make meaning. Making meaning makes sense of what has taken place, allows me internalise some aspect important to me.

This is beginning to sound very philosophical, and totally irrelevant to a good story (both for adults and children). However if the reader comes away from the story with greater understanding/insight of something, of self and others, is this not also equally important especially when it comes to culture and identity, which is of great significance in states barely a generation out of colonialism. This does not propose that stories should be didactic/preach like morality tales. They would still have to be interesting stories, stories which engage the emotions.

Just thinking about it; just thinking. And I'm going to look at it from time to time in relation to various stories. I can think of examples right now, but I need to make meaning of my thoughts!