Since 2016, the community of Kowanyama on the west coast of Cape York in Queensland has been receiving deliveries of books from our Book Supply program.
Kowanyama is 9 hours’ drive west from Cairns, and about 4.5 hours’ drive north from Normanton. Languages spoken in the community include Kokomenjen, Kunjen, Yer Yoront/Kokoberra and English.
“It’s very remote,” says Lara Wieland, Treasurer of Out there Kowanyama (OtK), a not-for-profit registered charity that works directly with about 40 children as well as some adults in the community.
OtK is run entirely by volunteers and has been working with the Kowanyama community since 2004. It aims to lend support where it is most needed. Over the years OtK has run regular school holiday programs for students enrolled in Kindy, Prep and Grades 1–10 at Kowanyama State School, where 170 students are currently enrolled.
And it provides much-needed assistance for boarding students who have no option but to continue their senior secondary studies in towns that are a long way from family and community.
Some of the books orders from the Books 4 Kids and Books for Big Kids lists go into the school library, some are used in the after-school reading group and some are set aside as prizes for school attendance. Others are given out to the children to read at home as part of their school literacy programs.
And in 2020, during the COVID lockdown, many of the books from ILF allowed the Kowanyama kids to keep up with their reading at home.
“The teachers went from house to house in the community, distributing the books.”
For the community’s parenting group, OtK orders board and picture books from our Foundation so families can read with their babies and toddlers.
“It’s a fantastic selection,” says Lara. “Over recent years it has helped generate an interest in books and more families now have books at home that are being read to young children before they enter school.”
Lara also makes sure there are plenty of books for adults at Kowanyama by ordering from our Books 4 Community list. Non-fiction, factual books and those with Indigenous content have proven very popular with the kids and grown-ups alike.
“People love them. They come in and tell us what they’ve been reading with their kids…It’s really wonderful…An awesome program.”