Two of our team have just returned from a field trip to the Ngaanyatjarra lands of Western Australia, a region where there are few community stores, let alone bookshops, where mobile phone reception is limited to a few isolated communities, and TV is transmitted via satellite.
Over five days, Early Literacy Supervisor Nicole Whiles and Program Coordinator Cindy Manfong, visited three very remote communities that receive our Book Buzz program. Much of the challenging, eight-hour drive from Yulara (near Uluru, in the NT) to the communities of Warburton, Jameson and Blackstone was on corrugated road with short stretches soft powdery dirt. But at each community exuberant kids, their parents and elders welcomed Nicole and Cindy, all eager to see what was in the big boxes that had been freighted in by air beforehand.
At Warburton and Jameson playgroups, run respectively by Early Childhood Educator Joy McGinley and Early Years Program Regional Coordinator Anne Shinkfield, books and ILF book bags were distributed among the enthusiastic youngsters, and the Book Buzz program was celebrated with story readings and morning tea for all. Fifteen board books for the babies and toddlers who attend these playgroups have now been translated into Ngaanyatjarra, thanks to the ongoing, dedicated efforts of Anne and Ngaanyatjarra elder Beryl.
“They’ve now got quite a library going,” says Nicole.
Some translations are of very popular children’s books, like I Went Walking, Dear Zoo, Hop a Little Jump a Little and Who Sank the Boat?, as well as perennial favourite, Where’s Spot?
“Not all the translations are direct from the English text,” explains Nicole, “the translations are usually based on the illustrations. And the community decides on how to translate them.”
Three schools in the Ngaanyatjarra lands region – Warburton, Jameson and Blackstone – regularly receive books packs from our Book Supply program. Nicole and Cindy visited all three and read selected books to the students, each of whom was then invited to select a few gifted books.
"They were all so excited to be getting them,” says Nicole, “and to be taking them home to keep.”