The Cooktown District Community Centre in tropical Far North Queensland, has been receiving the ILF's Books 4 Toddlers packs for the past four years. The Centre runs a main playgroup in Cooktown, and outreach groups in three remote Aboriginal communities Wujal Wujal, Hope Vale and Laura.
The Books 4 Toddler packs include books, toys, craft and playgroup equipment and take a lot of driving from place to place. From Cooktown to Laura, it's a three hour roundtrip – and that's in the dry season. In the wet, with heavy rains and cyclones, roads can be cut off for days at a time, and playgroups are cancelled.
The Centre's playgroup educators engage parents and carers in what's known as 'conversational reading', a style of learning that promotes thinking and reflection.
"This is where the books we receive from ILF come in beautifully," says Cathy Jene, the Centre's Parenting and Family Support team leader. "The kids get really excited by the books, particularly the ones with bright colours."
Mothers, and occasionally grandmothers and aunties, come along to participate in reading activities and 'yarning circles'."The parents really love the ones with Indigenous stories and content," Jene says.
Reading in Indigenous Language
In these outlying communities, Guugu Yimithirr or Kaku Yalangi is spoken, as well as English. "We encourage the parents and carers to speak and sing in language to the children," Jene says.
The playgroup educator is fluent in both northern Queensland languages, and is able to translate some of the books for the toddlers and their carers.
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