The summer holidays have now begun and some students will be going, or have gone, overseas for summer holidays. Even those who did not perform well are entertained with a gift for their non- performance by some parents, quite unlike the days when I was brought up.

Sadly for too many youths it will be all play and no work at all; after all, its holidays. Well, these parents who allow this are mistaken. While it's a time for unwinding from the formalities of regular school, it does not mean that children don't have to be schooled via orientation sessions, computer literacy programs, Bible study music classes and other summer programs as swimming, cooking, sewing, the VF Inc. Summer Programme, the functional music programme at the Calypso House, employment in a summer job so as to orient students into extra- curricular activities, induce earning & learning and, at the same time, have fun.

All this is good and should be encouraged, but nothing beats reading and enrollment in the library particularly for boys. As a teacher I normally recommend to my students to read at least three good books during the summer. Recently, the Convent High School principal advised her students to read during the holiday. The few, who heeded over the years, have seen an improvement in their vocabulary, spelling and creativity. This has resulted in improved grades in language arts and communication skills over a sustained period.

Some of the most popular books for boys and young adult men are by authors James Patterson, Dan Brown, Sidney Sheldon, Robert Ludlum and John Grisham. Though the ladies also read these books, some have shown a preference for Nora Roberts and Harlequin romance novels.

As in my youth the choices among pre-teens very much remain the same: Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew head the list of fiction novels. There have been a few new popular series as Candy Apple, Barbara Parks, Alie Parkes or Mary Pope Osborne series. The public Library reminds us of the ten commandments of reading:

To understand the past; to explore your world; to plan for the future; to visit new places; to create great things; to make good decision; to have fun / be entertainer; to exercise the mind; to keep in touch; because you can.

Interestingly I was told by the chief librarian that there has been a thirst for non- fiction among our youth as they seek to understand and are intrigued with the world we live in. there are a variety of hard-cover new publications awaiting to quench that desire for knowledge about turtles, water, climate change, oceans and planets. Also the popular Ladybird series have been tweaked to bring on board black boys and girls as part of their content to meet the needs of Afro- Caribbean youth.

By now parents should realize what reading does for our young citizens. The Internet or television cannot serve as a substitute for newspapers, magazines or a good book in enlightening the mind, improving vocabulary and creating analytical thinkers. Just as persons go out and jog on a daily basis to keep their bodies fit, so too the mind needs a dose of reading to be fit. It is a habit one must inculcate in our youth even if we ourselves do not like to read.

This summer the library can be that experience for your child as they have already started with their reading programmes which is inclusive of field trips to Coal Pot, agricultural farms and places as far as the Saints and Guadeloupe as well as exposure to writing and composition as part of a ten-day programme.

VF INC continues with its annual activities geared towards training and developing minds of the young in a safe and fun-filled environment. While a new programme will be taking off at the Calypso House for all those interested in Functional music and the hands on experience of playing the drums, guitar, bass, keyboards , song writing, music programming and other aspects of the performing arts in August this year. The program is expected to be led by at least two Golden Drum honorees.

Remember it was Shakespeare who said: "If all the days were playing holidays, to play would be as tedious as to work". So indeed, though it is called holiday the young minds needs to find constructive means to engage them and release energy before they continue the process of formal education in September. They need to be entertained, even while they learn and summer provides the idea time for this. Congratulations to all who did well at the school's assessment exams and to the teachers and parents who prepared the students.

Meanwhile, I apologize to King Dice whom I stated did not perform at the" Fete de La Musique" in my article dated Monday June 30th. Reports indicated that he, in fact, did after I had left.