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Thank you, Omu!

Whether it’s in the classroom, at home or in the community, building literacy and language skills provides positive reading experiences, which instils a love of reading in children.

Holy Faith Preparatory School (St Bernadette’s) joined with children around the world to celebrate the amazing power of reading aloud November 7 in Jumpstart’s ‘Read for the Record’.

Read for the Record is a campaign to bring young children together with valued grownups in their lives to read the same book on the same day in communities all over the world on November 7.

Jumpstart is an early education non-profit organisation based in the United States. The NGO is fuelled by “the core belief that every child has the potential to succeed with the right support.”

St Bernadette’s has been a part of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record for several years. Maybe Something Beautiful was read last year by Rosalie Jacob.

This year’s book was Thank you, Omu by Rhode Island School of Design graduate Oge Mora. It follows the central character Omu (pronounced AH-moo) which is the Nigerian language Igbo term for ‘queen’ as she prepares a pot of thick red stew for dinner.

The delectable scent travelled out of Omu’s window and was irresistible to members of her community including a little boy, police officer, hot dog vendor, shop owner, cab driver, doctor, actor, lawyer, dancer and baker. One by one they knocked on her door enquiring about the scrumptious meal.

Each person left Omu’s apartment with a bowl of her thick red stew. Eventually when it was time for dinner Omu realised that she had no stew left. But as Omu sat at her table with the empty pot she heard knocking on the door. Surprisingly all the people she had fed returned to her apartment with food and together they ate, danced and celebrated.

St Bernadette’s enhanced the experience for their students by having props like a table and large pot. Art teacher Annalise Dos Ramos created a backdrop and Standard Four student Hailey Edwards portrayed Omu.

As the book was read by Computer teacher Amanda Chin Pang, students from the Standard Four and Five classes appeared on stage dressed as one of the characters who knocked on Omu’s door. This created a lot of excitement for the audience.

There was also an interactive question-and-answer segment where students from as young as Junior Infants to Standard Five were able to share their thoughts on the book and its theme of gratitude.

— Tenisha Sylvester, teacher