Our new Program Manager Leonie Short had barely time to make a cuppa in our tiny office kitchen before she headed off on a whirlwind trip to the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands for the launch of two exciting new board books published by our Foundation.
Over three days, the books were launched in five remote Central Australian communities. Kutju, Kutjara, Mankurpa (One, two, three) is a counting book. Nyaa Nyuntu Nyanganyi? (What can you see?) is a picture dictionary book. Both were produced last year in workshops run by our lifetime ambassador, children’s author and illustrator and former Australian Children’s Laureate Alison Lester.
“I am very strong in culture, so seeing the kids sitting down with their mums and looking through these books they’d produced made me feel very proud,” says Leonie.
The text for the books was written in Pitjantjatjara, the children’s first language, by families at Amata Playgroup, so it was fitting that the first launch of the week was held in Amata community. On the following day, there were further celebrations in Murputja and Pipalyatjara, and on the day after in Ernabella and Fregon.
"These board books were created by community members for community learning, and are an important resource that acknowledges Pitjantjatjara language and it’s people. The launch of these resources are a key step for our Foundation to support remote communities in producing and making these books to be read, listened to, shared and re-read for generations to come" says our Early Literacy Supervisor Nicole Whiles.
Three generations had created these stunning illustrations! The little ones in the playgroup had spread paint on sheets of paper to provide backdrops. Then, as their mothers and grandmothers added images, animals and familiar foods came to life. The overall design combined both traditional and modern elements to produce a unique blend of line and dot work.
“Everyone in the communities was so excited,” says Leonie. “The babies and toddlers were absolutely mesmerised by the beautiful artwork.”
At the launch, the ladies at Amata community who had produced the artworks were presented with copies of the board books. Each child in the playgroup was also gifted copies, as well as receiving a brightly coloured ILF book bag and t-shirt.
“One enthusiastic little one almost grabbed the books out of the bag!” says Leonie. “It was amazing seeing the families sitting down reading these books in first language together. There was such a huge sense of achievement for all involved.”