Books about AFL heroes, cookbooks and titles featuring people they know have proved to be the big winners among the kids in the Owen Springs Education Centre, on the outskirts of Alice Springs.
“We have a very, very limited budget and very limited resources, so it was mostly just pencils and paper before we got the books [from ILF],” says an education worker.
She has witnessed the vast improvement in literacy skills in the three years since the centre has been receiving the book packs.
“We had kids that couldn’t even read or write their own name.”
Such kids were introduced to reading and writing by way of baby and toddler books. Then they progressed to picture books with just a few words.
“Now they’re actually reading, not just flicking through the books. Some of them are even reading novels. And some kids that couldn’t spell at all now beat me!”
The kids in this centre also love the Awesome Facts series.
“Look at this, Auntie,” they say, pointing to a page. “I didn’t know that!”
They also adore Too Many Cheeky Dogs (by Johanna Bell) as lots of the kids know the book’s illustrator, Dion Beasley, an Alywarr artist from Tennant Creek.
In fact, any book about or with photos of people they know enthralls them.
“Look, Auntie, that’s my nanna!” they might say, as they come across a picture of a Territory family.
Top favourites though are the books about AFL players, which fit very well with the Positive Role Model Program the centre has established. Many sports stars take the time to participate—visiting the centre, yarning to the kids and inspiring them. There could never be enough copies of the book about Adam Goodes! (All the Questions You Ever Wanted to Ask Adam Goodes—published by Indij Readers)
The cookbooks are also very well used, with recipes being copied and laminated and used in the cooking program, where the kids cook their own lunches and suppers.
“The books all get used, in lots of different ways.”
Now that so many kids in the centre are reading so well there is less call on the picture books. These are gifted to younger siblings during family visits. In this way, some of the books from ILF are also finding their way into homes throughout the NT.
“Literacy and numeracy in the centre is really picking up, thanks to these books. It’s the best book program I’ve come across.”
NOTE: NO IMAGES WERE AVAILABLE FROM OWEN SPRINGS EDUCATION CENTRE. IMAGE ABOVE IS ANOTHER COMMUNITY ENJOYING THE ILF BOOK SUPPLY PROGRAM.