“We use the books all the time,” says Jenny Cooper, a teacher at Gillen Pre-school in Alice Springs. “The kids just eat the stories up. It’s great to watch!”
Gillen Pre-school, near the centre of Alice Springs, has been receiving ILF Book Supply Program for the past 2 years. The books have proved very popular with the kids, their families and staff alike. Many of the children come in to pre-school from the town camps on the outskirts of Alice Springs; others live in town.
“We have two reading areas … one inside and one outside,” Jenny explains. “The books are displayed and families are invited to stay and enjoy a story with their child if they have time.”
Many families take up this invitation, and Jenny says she often hears parents repeating or explaining the stories to their children in Arrernte.
The pre-school has also set up a borrowing system for the books, as not many Indigenous families use the public library. Each child at the pre-school has a special book bag to take their borrowed book home in. And they get a stamp on their hand!
The parents give the teachers lots of feedback about which books their kids really like— and often ask the staff to encourage their children to take home a variety of books, not just the same old favourites over and over again!
“It’s such a marvellous selection,” says Jenny, who loves that there are plenty of titles to choose from.
When the books arrive from ILF, the pre-school staff and children open the packages together.
“Oh, books!” the kids yell, all grabbing to get a new book.
“It’s so exciting,” says Jenny.
Also exciting was the pre-school’s participation in the Bangtail Muster Parade down Todd Mall in the heart of town on 2 May this year. Alice Springs recently had a plague of caterpillars, and the kids all love the perennial classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar (by Eric Carle), so the pre-school decorated its float with a “Hungry for Stories” theme.
“Having the books really helps the children’s development,” says Jenny. “Every day you can hear how they transfer the language and knowledge from the books into play … And it’s great having quality children’s literature that shows Aboriginal people doing everyday things … I think [ILF] is amazing.”