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The Hands Literacy Award recognizes Eastern Caribbean schools, libraries, reading programs, and after-school youth centers that are leading the way in child literacy—and we reward them with U.S. $1,000 in books or literacy resources of their choice. We choose the winners on: creating, rejuvenating, and sustaining a lending library; commitment to literacy by staff; "ownership" of the library by children; literacy-focused initiatives such as a student librarian program, remedial reading, book clubs, and poetry and writing groups; library infrastructure improvements; involvement by community members.
That's the spirit! The destruction of Hurricane Maria behind them, everyone at Jones Beaupierre Primary School is more excited than ever about books, reading, and the school library.
Jones Beaupierre Primary School
The Spirit of Dominica. Darkness was falling when, on September 18, 2017, Hurricane Maria descended on Dominica. Over the next eight hours the Category 5 storm killed 31 people and damaged 95% of homes and schools on the island. Exposed to the Atlantic Ocean, Jones Beaupierre Primary School (90 students, Grades K to 6) was hit hard—160 mile-per-hour winds tore off the school's roofs, blew out windows and doors, and two feet of rain—a firehose—ruined whatever was left inside the school's walls.

The storm was the deadliest, most destructive hurricane in Dominica's history. But it did not defeat the school's spirit. Principal Martha Stephenson and her teachers vowed that the hurricane would not take away the gains in child literacy that they'd made with their school library. The extensive rebuilding of the school would include—of course—the repair and resurrection of the school library. The students' love affair with reading must continue.

Now the library at Jones Beaupierre Primary School is better than ever—colorful, welcoming, child-friendly, a magnet for students of every grade and reading ability. Hands Across the Sea wishes to recognize and celebrate the dedication of Jones Beaupierre Primary School to the advancement of child literacy.

Sixty other schools on the island were severely damaged, and many school staff and students lost their homes, belongings, and loved ones—almost every school on Dominica is in some stage of post-disaster recovery. There are many stories of recovery and resilience. The spirit of Jones Beaupierre Primary School is an inspiration to all.
DOMINICA Honorable Mentions: Atkinson School • Bagatelle Primary School • Castle Bruce Primary School • Giraudel Primary School • Isaiah Thomas Secondary School • Roosevelt Douglas Primary School • Salisbury Primary School • Wesley Primary School

"We Read" indeed! At this small-size school tucked away in the rainforest, a dozen-strong team of enthusiastic Student Librarians is making a big-size impact on child literacy.

Millet Primary School
Readers in the Rainforest. You won't find Millet Primary School (103 students, Grades K to 6) on any tourist map—the school can be found at the end of an unmarked, narrow, winding road through the rainforest—but what you will find are children, teachers, and a Principal who are super-excited about reading and their new library.

Hands Literacy Link Clara Paul mobilized everyone into a Library Team, and together they transformed a large, underutilized room of various "school stuff" into a colorful, enticing, child-friendly library space. Clara also trained a dozen children, ranging from Grades 3 to 6, as Student Librarians. All this took place several years ago, and the school's library has been chugging along happily since. Hands sent the school 539 new amazing books, plus a "reading corner" floormat, as part of the 2016-2017 shipment to St. Lucia, and we plan to "fill in the gaps" of their collection. But no amount of books can make a difference if the passion and commitment of the school staff is lacking, and these essentials are fully present at Millet Primary School, where we see the level of child literacy advancing every day.
ST. LUCIA Honorable Mentions: Anse-La-Raye Primary School • Augier Combined School • Beanefield Comprehensive Secondary School • Dugard Combined School • Entrepot Secondary School • Fond Assau Primary School • Fond St. Jacques Primary School • Lady Gordon Opportunity Centre • Monchy RC Combined School • Roblot Combined School

At Questelles Government School, the commitment to books, reading, the school library, and the advancement of child literacy is strong and getting stronger.
Questelles Government School
"Nothing Can Stop Us Now!" In terms of the emphasis on child literacy and library sustainability, not every handoff from a retiring Principal to his or her replacement goes as well as we hope. But we are very happy to report that at Questelles Government School (334 students, Grades K to 6) the embrace of books, reading, and the new school library has continued its upward climb after retiring Principal Albena Jack-Samuel (in blue, at left), who worked with Hands to establish the library, handed the school's reins to incoming Principal Donnette Ferdinand (at right, in pink). Ferdinand, who has a degree in literacy, has the full and continued support of her powerhouse staff—seven teachers at the school are highly credentialed in literacy. And Hands Literacy Link Yvette Pompey has trained ten Student Librarians, who color-coded the latest shipment of new books from Hands (in total, Hands has sent the school 1,963 new amazing books). "Nothing can stop us now!" says Principal Ferdinand. We look forward to assisting this up-and-coming rural school in the years ahead.
ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES Honorable Mentions: Argyle RC Combined School • Bequia SDA Primary School • Biabou Methodist Primary School • Colonaire Primary School • C.W. Prescod Primary School • Evesham Methodist School • Fitz-Hughes Government School • Kingstown Preparatory School • Marriaqua Government School • New Grounds Primary School • North Union Secondary School • Richland Park SDA Primary School • Sion Hill Government School
Pillars and promoters of the library: From checkouts to read-alouds, the 24-strong Student Librarian team at J.T. Ambrose Primary School does it all.
J.T. Ambrose Primary School
They Made It, then Made It Their Own. When Mrs. Robinson was promoted from vice-principal to principal at J.T. Ambrose Primary School (266 students, Grades K –6) about five years ago, she knew what she wanted: a dazzling school library. But where in the school could a library fit? And how would they get shelving, and books? Principal Robinson brought her teaching staff together and proposed that the computer room be partitioned in half, and set about securing shelving and paint from local sources. For books, she came to Hands Across the Sea—we sent 599 new amazing books in the 2016-2017 shipment, and followed that up with 1,902 books in the 2017-2018 shipment. All the while, we watched as the project took shape and the staff and students began to embrace books, reading, and the library as an essential part of the school. In October of 2018 the Hands Literacy Link for Antigua, Lisa Tomlinson, trained 24 Student Librarians, from Grades 4, 5, and 6, which further raised the excitement level and sense of ownership among the students. The school also has a very active Library Team—several teachers, the school librarian, and the school secretary,

Hands Across the Sea's Program Director, Hannah Knecht, visited J.T. Ambrose early in 2019 and reported, "I had the immense privilege to observe three Student Librarians run the entire library check-in and check-out system as well as re-shelve the books and help their classmates find books to read for the following week—all on their own! These students have made it their practice to include tallying how many total books their classmates checked out for that week and recording it on the Hands Lending Library Borrowing Record Form. No supervision needed!

"Thanks to Hands Across the Sea’s Student Librarian Program, schools that don’t have a full-time librarian or a librarian at all can still have Library Time for their students. It’s amazing to see schools like J.T. Ambrose have vibrant lending libraries despite this challenge! As long as the school is willing to empower their students with the responsibility to run the library and train them with the support they need until they can independently do their tasks out of routine, library 'miracles' can happen!"
ANTIGUA Honorable Mentions: Buckleys Primary School • Golden Grove Primary School • Jennings Primary School • Liberta Primary School • Olivia David Primary School • Ottos Comprehensive Secondary School • T. N. Kirnon Primary School • Villa Primary School
Principal Angela Matthew (at left), Librarian Karida Morrishaw (not pictured), and Student Librarians have made Cayon Primary School's library better than ever.

Cayon Primary School
A Turnaround, a Makeover, and Now We’re Better Than Ever. It’s been a highly productive year in the Cayon Primary School library. To rejuvenate their library, the new Principal, Angela Matthew, with her Librarian, Karida Morrishaw, the Library Team (four teachers), the Student Librarian team, and Heidi Fagerberg, the Hands Literacy Link for St. Kitts and Nevis, have: removed all old books; processed and shelved the new books; fixed a long-broken table; solved the bookends dilemma; found stickier tape for library signs; removed old computers from the library area; made the teacher resource shelf more inviting, adding suggestions for the classroom use of specific books; encouraged students to look at grade level bookshelves above and below their own, as well as the reference shelf; created a follow-up policy for damaged or lost books; made library time mandated, not optional; ensured that Grade K and Grade 1 students receive read alouds by their teacher/librarian and book-handling lessons during library time; encouraged teachers to use library books to supplement their classroom lessons; and had students maintain a wish list of books for the library.

Wow, you may be thinking, that sounds like a lot of work! Yes, it’s always true that creating or rejuvenating a school library takes passion and dedication, and another thing is always true: when the library gets better, child literacy gets better. When children are encouraged to explore the library, they become better readers, and their literacy skills—vocabulary, comprehension, spelling, writing, grammar, speaking, problem-solving—begin to rise in the process. A school library, after all, is far more than a collection of books—it is a center for the advancement of child literacy. And for making such great progress toward that goal is why we salute Cayon Primary School as the winner of the 2018-2019 Hands Literacy Award for St. Kitts and Nevis.
ST. KITTS AND NEVIS Honorable Mentions: Charles E. Mills Secondary School • Charlestown Primary School • Dieppe Bay Primary School • Dr. William Connor Primary School • Jocelyn Liburd Primary School • Joshua O. Williams Primary School • Sandy Point Primary School • St. Thomas' Primary School

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