Publishing books written by community

This program publishes books written by people in remote communities, some reflecting traditional legends and stories.

Many of the 80 project books published so far are written by children, while others are parenting or educational books written in consultation with community elders. The majority of our publications reflect up to 15 Indigenous languages. 

How the projects work

All potential publishing projects go through a proposal process which must meet our vision and strategy and be approved by our Board. Each is different. Some involve working with the community, others involve translators, linguists, authors, illustrators, editors and artists. Once a book is published, we arrange an official launch and copies of the books are gifted to the community and often included in the Book Supply program.

There is a real buzz and sense of achievement around the issue of literacy when children and the communities are involved. The young authors become role models for others. The books show their stories and experiences and are just as important as any other published story. And other communities, as well as the Australian public, get a glimpse into the lives of others in remote communities. It is empowering.

“I would like to thank the ILF for helping us to make the book in Walmajarri because it’s very important to us and for our kids to have English and Walmajarri.”

Jessie Moora, Walmajarri Elder and Teacher, Yakanarra School

First language

Community members help decide which language to use for the books. So far, 46 of our books are written in an Indigenous language (and English), and another 16 books include keywords in first language.

“These books are so important for the future of the children and for the elders of the community. To have their language recognised and respected is something that their culture can look on and be so proud of. We’re proud of the kids, they have worked so hard on their books and are proud of them!”

Helen Unwin, Principal, Yakanarra School


Some are funded by the ILF, some receive grants or sponsorship, or are published in partnerships with other organisations.

Pamela Lofts Bequest

Pamela Lofts (1949–2012) was a nationally renowned artist and a much-loved children’s book illustrator. She has left behind an enormous legacy and a substantial bequest to our Foundation, which allowed us to launch The Pamela Lofts Bequest for Literacy and Learning Project in 2014.

This project provides a mentorship program for Indigenous children in remote communities in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Create Initiative

The ILF Create Initiative partners young Indigenous women at Tiwi College with publishers and mentors to create (produce stories), cultivate (build knowledge) and motivate (grow self-esteem). 

Here are five books that have come out of the Create Initiative. 

Japarrika written with David Lawrence and Shelley Ware, published by Penguin Random House in 2017 and launched in 2018.

Shallow in the Deep End written with Jared Thomas in 2016 and published by Scholastic Australia in 2017.

Nginingawila Ngirramini: Our Story written with Anita Heiss and published by Hachette Australia in 2015.

Tiwi Girl written with Alison Lester and published by Harper Collins in 2014.


Bangs 2 Jurrukuk written with John Danalis in 2013 and supported by Allen & Unwin.


Current Community Literacy Projects

I Opened The Door — Students from Tjuntjuntjara, Menzies, Mt Margaret and Laverton at the 2016 Spinifex Writing Camp with Gregg Dreise, Ann James and Judy Watson

Nine imaginative and adventurous interconnected stories, all of which begin and end with opening a door. Launched on Indigenous Literacy Day 2017, in Perth. Order your copy now.

Two Ways Strong — Students at Concordia Lutheran College from remote communities across Queensland, with Claire Scobie and Kristine Ellis 

A fictional story inspired by the students' transition from living in remote Queensland to attending boarding school in Toowoomba. Launched on Indigenous Literacy Day 2017 at Brisbane Writers Festival by our Patron, Quentin Bryce. Order your copy now.

Warburton Buzz Books — By mothers in Warburton community, launched in 2017 as part of the new Book Buzz Publishing Program 

Two new books in Ngaanyatjarra language, by mothers for babies and toddlers. These new books will supplement translated board and picture books already being used in playgroup storytime sessions. They have been gifted back to Warburton community but are not for commercial sale. 

Japarrika — Students from the Tiwi Islands, mentored by author David Lawrence and NITV presenter Shelley Ware in 2017 at the Create Initiative workshop 

AFLW-inspired story Japarrika (Storm Bird) tells of a young Tiwi girl who loves football and dreams of playing for the Tiwi Warriors. Published and launched by Penguin Random House in Melbourne in 2018. Order your copy now.

Binjari Buks — Women from Binjari (near Katherine) with linguist Denise Angelo and Julie Haysom

A series of nine childrens books in Kriol — three board books, three picture books and three chapter books such as Moli det Bigibigi (Molly the Pig) is based on a true story of a pig in the community that loves Weetbix! Written and illustrated by the 'Binjari Mob' in workshops with Denise Angelo, linguist from ANU, and artist Julie Haysom. Made possible by HarperCollins Publishers and 1010 Printing. Copies of the Binjari books are gifted to other Kriol-speaking communities. Order your copy now.

Deadly Sisters of Worawa — Students from Worawa Aboriginal College with Anita Heiss and Shelley Ware

Deadly Sisters of Worawa is about the students' families, sacred places and things they've achieved that make them proud. They've also written some powerful and moving poetry, and created some amazing artwork, all of which combined reveals how deadly these Worawa sisters are. Order your copy now.

Can you Dance? — Written by Sally Morgan, illustrated by Kathy Arbon

Written by one of Australia’s best loved authors and former ILF ambassadors, this board book will get toddlers and preschoolers up off their feet following the actions of the animals featured in the book. Order your copy.

For further information on Community Literacy Projects, please contact us.