The Indigenous Literacy Foundation works as an initiative of the Australian Book Industry with the support of:
The years of early literacy development in a child's life are an important time for enjoying the world of story-telling and instilling a lifelong love of books.
The Book Buzz early literacy project aims to raise literacy levels of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies, toddlers and young children living in remote communities. Drawing on current research in literacy, it recognises the need for early experience and contact with quality books at the youngest possible age.
Why is early literacy so important?
The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students emerges early and is even more pronounced in remote and isolated communities (find out why here). Non-Indigenous students far out-perform Indigenous students in benchmark tests.
The NAPLAN results for 2015 show that 55–75 per cent of Indigenous children in very remote locations across WA, SA, and NT are achieving below the minimum standard in Reading by the time they reach Year 3.
How does Book Buzz work?
Book Buzz provides families, babies, toddlers and preschool children with sets of developmentally appropriate books (board and cloth books) that introduce children to the joys of reading. They cover a range of topics: people, places, animals, objects, narrative stories, early concepts of letters and numbers, sensory elements, and facts about the world.
These books are selected by an Indigenous literacy specialist, in consultation with children’s book professionals and key contacts and elders within remote communities. We have a list of 30 selected books, many with supporting literacy resources. Organisations select 10 books off the list that are appropriate for their Book Buzz packs. The literacy resources are designed to support the implementation of the books and encourage further interest and engagement in stories.
Organisations integrate the books into their programs, using them on a daily basis. They are used as part of daily storytime and story sharing sessions in playgroups, literacy experiences in preschool environments, and even aligned with child development health checks in community health clinics.
Working with community
The ILF recognises that all communities are unique and their needs in literacy development vary. We work with community members on the selection of the Buzz books, taking specific requests into account.
In 2011, our Foundation developed Reading with Children with Manyallaluk community in the NT, and in 2014 we published, Ready for School Wilcannia with Patrick Ellis and Wilcannia community in NSW.
Acknowledging the research on the benefits of learning in home language, our Foundation has funded the translations of Buzz books into first language. With the help of elders and the community, we have translated 15 books into the Ngaanyatjarra Aboriginal language of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands in WA. Yakanarra community is currently working on translations into the Walmajarri language.
Translating these books into first language gives mothers and families the option of reading the books in either language and empowers them to feel confident about sharing a new book in the language they are most comfortable in. It exposes children from an early age to the written word in both languages and recognises the importance of first language and learning first in that language.
Where does Book Buzz work?
The program was launched at the end of 2009 in Manyallaluk (east of the Katherine region, NT) and is now running in communities across the country, including:
- Wilcannia, Broken Hill, and Menindee (NSW)
- Warburton, Blackstone, Jameson, Warakuna, Tjuntjuntjara, and Yakanarra (WA)
- Manyallaluk, Milikapiti, and Alice Springs (NT)
- Cairns (QLD)
We continue to support more and more communities and organisations working with young children. If you live in or are working in a remote community, and would like to find out more information, please contact us.
You can make a genuine contribution to the life a child in a remote Indigenous community by sending a book pack which contains 10 wonderful books.
Each Book Buzz pack costs $140. Donate a Book Buzz Pack today