As a proud Trini/ Caribbean parent, you will likely want to ensure your child’s library has its fair share of Caribbean titles. While this post will help guide you in the right direction, allow me to start with a small rant.
We need to do better at telling our own stories to our children. Seriously, I searched on Amazon.com and found thousands of children’s books but less than a handful of books by Caribbean born authors. #caribbeanauthorsmatter
Online Book Sites:
Caribbeanbooks.org: The best online source I found was the website www.caribbeanbooks.org. This site has short descriptions of each book and even takes the time to categorize them by age. So if you are looking for a children’s book by Caribbean authors for your wee ones, start on that site and follow this links therein to Amazon to purchase your copies (if in stock).
Babybabblenetwork.com/bookshelf: Full disclosure, I know Samantha John from high school. John and Jones kinda end up sitting next to each other a lot. In 2014 she started the website Babybabblenetwork which is a great resource for parents and has a section of audiobooks and podcasts from children’s authors. Check it out here http://www.babybabblenetwork.com/bookshelf
Required Caribbean Reading
Summer Ligtning and Other Stories: If you did literature for Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams in the 90s, you were fortunate enough to read Olive Senior’s Summer Lightning and Other Stories. They say you always remember your first love and for sure this was the first book by a Caribbean Author I loved. My copy was heavily covered in various shades of pen ink and highlighted heavily in my favourite shade of pink. As the book’s description so aptly conveys, the stories herein are meant to inspire the young mind with stories of hope and melancholy. This book is best for a young teenager 14/15 but is a good read for adults also. Buy this book on Amazon.
West Indian Reader Series: These books belong on a list of “you’re not West Indian If” things. Seriously, far too many of us were, and I use the next word with love, subjected to this series. Very phonics based and a bit more of a work book feel in my opinion than a fun read, this series has helped many of us read before we were five. The entire series is now available both on Amazon and from an old Caribbean granny near you.
Hatch: While I know this author, I have to say I love this book and this is far from just another “big up meh friend” review. It is refreshing to see a YOUNG WOMAN write children’s books in T&T. It appears in the Caribbean becoming an author waits for retirement. We thank Jeunanne for breaking this mold.
The book, Island Babies Adventures Hatch tells the story of Hatch who is a competitive little Leatherback turtle. He and his tiny hatchling brothers and sisters are racing wildly to crack out of their eggs and be first to the sea. Crisis arises as the nearby river breaks its banks, flooding the nest. Narrated by Hatch, this charming story teaches the young turtles a lesson about teamwork – they discover that unless they work together, no one will get out of the crumbling mess! Hatch is available on Amazon and at various bookstores in T&T.
Its important to note that this book is linked to the ESP Jr. line which also features clothing with local, cartoon like, designs. Check them out on Facebook.
Out of the Doubles Kitchen: This one is probably best for a child in their later teens – and likely one that loves reading but I am hard pressed to not recommend this book for helping to develop ones love of Trinbago (and of course our #1 street food). Unlike the others on this list, OOTDK is available in Kindle AND audiobook format – perfect for a parent who sits in traffic with their children.
Bookstores in Trinidad and Tobago
Paper Based, 10 Nook Ave. St. Anns (868) 625-3197: I will be challenged on this but in my view, the best local bookshop in Trinidad and Tobago is Paper Based bookstore a the Hotel Normandie. With book signings and readings, this local book shop stores various old and new local authors. Its location in a hotel “mini mall” comes with ample parking and the option of a cup of tea to start off your afternoon.
Rainy Days, Ellerslie Plaza, Maraval: Let me help my critics. This is not a bookstore. It is a more of a gift store packed with local goodies by local artists – including authors. As many local authors do not have ISBN numbers and are not sold on Amazon, stopping by this bright coloured boutique will lead to you likely leaving with books that are hard to find but easy to love.
Please share your feedback on other West Indian titles I may have missed or online resources for books you know our diaspora will enjoy. Let’s feed our youth with stories about our culture.