Remember those good, old-time values children used to learn growing up? Be courteous, respect your elders, work hard for what you want, study your book. The decline in these and other values and attitudes cause many to lament the state of things.
Wanting to do more than lament, Author Carlene Barrett hatched a plan.
“As a mother, I enjoyed reading to my daughter. But I found that there were times when I wanted books that would teach values in a contemporary setting. So the light bulb went off and I thought ‘what if I could contribute to society in this way?’” she says.
An IT Manager by day, Barrett threw herself into creating values-based children’s books in her spare time. She also created a publishing company, Island Nuggets, to channel the books through using the catchphrase ‘Real Value…for Life’.
On October 4, she hosted a virtual launch of the series of six books called ‘Family Time on the Islands with Cavail’.
“Some of the values promoted in the series are treating family members well, spending time with family, being helpful at home, making home a happy place, and so on,” she shares.
The series contains 5 readers and one activity book colourfully illustrated with playful drawings by Jamaican artist, Rachel Moss. The short stories are set in various Caribbean islands. Readers ‘sail’ from island to island in a boat named ‘Sunrise’ and collect golden nuggets at each stop. Each nugget is a value statement such as ‘Encourage each other’ which ties into the stories. The ‘tour guide’ character in the books is a relatable Jamaican girl named for Barrett’s daughter, Cavail.
The series has received strong endorsements.
Senior Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MoEYI), Sharon Smith-Whyte, says the books have been favourably reviewed by the ministry and will be a useful resource for students.
President of the Jamaica Teacher’s Association (JTA), Jasford Gabriel highly commends the family focus of the books.
“I often say that the biggest problem we face as a nation is not crime and violence but the breakdown in family values,” Gabriel says while hoping the series will help to stem the decline.
The Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church, of which Barrett is a member, endorsed the series from the Inter-American Division (IAD) and the local Jamaica Union (JAMU). President of JAMU, Pastor Everett Brown says he was in immediate support of the books when Barrett shared her plan.
“I think young people need to feed on material like this. The church and the general society need this,” he says.
CEO of Jamaican based e-book store- Book Fusion, Dwayne Campbell, says instilling values in children makes them productive citizens.
“Now that we are all closer together working and learning from home due to COVID, it is a good time to reinforce some of these strong Caribbean family values,” he says.
A 5% discount on the series is available using the code TY4SV4K3 on bookfusion.com through the month of October. The series can also be purchased on amazon.com both hard and soft copy.
Young readers have also been giving enthusiastic reviews. Jasmine Oliver cannot get enough of her copy.
“The book is a bit worn and torn now but that doesn’t really matter as I have been reading it quite a lot. I am so excited for when I get the other books,” she says.
Barrett notes that though the series targets 7-12-year-olds, adults should read along too.
“The children will read about the values but it comes alive even more when you share with them and you can help them to relate it to their own lives,” she says.
In the true spirit of the books, Barrett’s husband, SDA Pastor Nevail Barrett, shares the family’s support of the project.
“We salute you, Carlene! Your stick-to-it-iveness sacrifice and tenacity paid off. You have made us proud!” he says.
Though basking in the glow of seeing her dream come true, Barrett is not finished yet.
“Family Time on the Islands is the first of seven series that I have penciled out so there’s a lot more coming from Island Nuggets. This is just the beginning,” she says.