This program produces and publishes books written Indigenous people, for Indigenous people. These books are important because they represent Indigenous culture, community life and language.
We have published 103 books that reflect 26 Indigenous languages, written by children, families and community elders in remote communities across Australia. In 2021, we have another 17 books to publish in multiple languages including our first collection of graphic novels.
How the projects work
All potential publishing projects go through a proposal process which must meet our vision, 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 palpable sense of achievement when children and community members publish a book through our Community Publishing Projects program. 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
Community members help decide which language to use for the books. So far, 66 of our books are written in an Indigenous language (and English), and another 23 books include keywords in first languages.
“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 of these projects are funded by the ILF, some receive grants or sponsorship, or are published in partnerships with other organisations.
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.
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 the seven books that have come out of the Create Initiative:
Hello, Hello was written and illustrated by students from Laverton, Menzies and Tjuntjuntjara remote community schools at the third Spinifex Camp, sponsored by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. The students were joined by ILF ambassador and award-winning illustrator Ann James and singer/songwriter Chris Aitken, and together they have produced a book that will intrigue, surprise and delight readers of all ages. Purchase your copy here.
Yolngu students from Nhulunbuy Primary School wrote and illustrated this story with Ann James and Ann Haddon over a series of workshops sponsored by our Foundation. The students also worked with elders in their community to write their story in Dhangu, one of the Yolngu Matha languages. Purchase your copy.
Throughout 2018 and 2019, ILF funded a series of workshops for the students with notable mentors; Brenton McKenna, author of the ‘Ubby’ series of graphic novels; Wolfgang Bylsma, editor-in-chief of graphic novel publisher Gestalt Publishing; and Justin Randall, award-winning graphic novelist, illustrator and colourist.
The three graphic novels, Mixed Feelings, Exo Dimensions, and Storm Warning address topics such as climate change, intergenerational trauma and healing, and two-way cultural learning against the backdrop of life in Central Australia.
The graphic novels have been written by four young people: Declan Miller (20) Seraphina Newberry (17), Alyssa Mason (17) and Lauren Boyle (17) from Mparntwe (Alice Springs).
Wamparla Apira (Possums and Tall Trees) is told in Arabana and English by Elder Thanthi Syd Strangways and is not only a fascinating story which is beautifully illustrated by Kathy Arbon, but is also an important addition to the Arabana Wangka or language resources for the Arabana people of northern South Australia. Launched in 2018 at the South Australian Museum. Order your copy here.
Written by one of Australia's best loved authors, Sally Morgan, and illustrated by Kathy Arbon, this board book will get toddlers and preschoolers up off their feet following the actions of the animals featured in the book. Published by the ILF in 2018. Order your copy now.
This project is just the first of three books! Featuring amazing, action-packed football scenes, this story was written by the Katherine 7 and was made possible by the Hawthorn Football Club, Hachette Publishing and the Clontarf Academy. Read more here.
We're excited to share this project with our followers in 2019. This is the second book from Milikapiti School on Melville Island, who authored 2015's popular title No Way Yirrikipayi. We were thrilled to be joined by our ambassador Gregg Dreise and local elder Nina Black. Published by the ILF. Stay tuned for updates and read more about our field trip here.
Deadly Sisters of Worawa - Written by 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. Published by the ILF in partnership with the Epic Good Foundation and launched on Indigenous Literacy Day in 2018. Order your copy now.
Japarrika Rises - Written by students from Tiwi College's Senior Young Women’s Class as part of our 2018 Create Initiative with David Lawrence and Shelley Ware
Japarrika Rises is the sequel to 2019's enormously successful Create Initiative title Japarrika; a story about a young Tiwi woman who dreams about playing in the AFLW. This new, beautifully illustrated book, is full of excitement and humour, and is truly representative of the students’ lives, loves and culture. Published by Penguin Random House. Read more here.
We're excited to share these board books with our followers in 2019. Written in Pitjantjatjarra by mothers and children from Amata playgroup, we were thrilled to be joined by renowned children's illustrator and ambassador Alison Lester and local artist Barbara Moore. Read more about our field trip here and stay tuned for updates!
For further information on Community Publishing Projects, please contact us.