The books from our Book Supply program are allowing Central Desert families to come together to discover the joys of reading. The pictures and stories have encouraged a sense of feeling safe while at the same time promoting children’s literacy skills.
In the Central Desert books from ILF Book Supply Program are covering many clicks over dusty roads in order to reach some of the youngest children in the NT.
From its offices in Alice Springs, the Central Desert Regional Council operates childcare centres in the remote Aboriginal communities of Yuendumu and Laramba, as well as playgroups in Engawala, Ti-Tree, Wilora (Stirling), Pmara Jutunta (Six Mile) and Nturiya (Station).
Once Kerrie Leonard, the Operations Co-ordinator Early Childhood, has unpacked the books and sorted them, they are distributed to the early childhood educators who work throughout the region.
Kiara Jones coordinates mobile playgroups in Ti-Tree, Wilora, Pmara Jutunta and Nturiya, clocking up many kilometres each week as she makes her rounds from community to community. She loads up her car with boxes of books, as well as craft materials, blocks, paints, toys, and soap and towels for washing and drying little hands and faces.
“We try to help the mums, grandmothers and aunties help the kids get ready for when they start school and also building in when we can, early literacy and numeracy skills.”
In both the child care centres and the playgroups, the picture books by Aboriginal authors have proven very popular, with the kids gravitating to them.
“The relevance and familiarity really helps the kids build a strong identity. They can imagine themselves as being worthy and without that imagery they may not see themselves in that way.”
One book in particular, Too Many Cheeky Dogs (by Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley), has been a big hit at Wilora Playgroup, providing lots of fun and learning — for both the kids and the educators.
“We sit in the sand on the mats and talk about how many cheeky dogs we know and what they do, and I get the kids to tell me how to say some of the words in language.”
Warlpiri, Eastern Arrernte and Anmatjere are all spoken in the Central Desert. But it’s not only the babies and toddlers getting a lot out of the books.
“The mums really like looking at and reading the books themselves” Kiara explains.
Kerrie Leonard says the books from our Foundation have allowed Central Desert families to come together to discover the joys of reading. The pictures and stories have encouraged a sense of feeling safe while at the same time promoting children’s literacy skills.
“We really appreciate all these books,” says Kiara. “Without them I don’t know where we’d be. They’re empowering!”
NOTE: IMAGES WERE NOT AVAILABLE FROM CENTRAL DESERT REGIONAL COUNCIL. IMAGE PICTURED IS FROM PORMPURAAW (QLD), ANOTHER COMMUNITY THAT RECEIVES BOOKS FROM OUR BOOK SUPPLY PROGRAM.