In the remote community of Wadeye in the NT, books from the ILF Book Supply are playing a major role in health checks for 0 to 5-year-olds.
Each week, a team from the Top End Health Service visits the remote community, 420 kilometres south-west of Darwin on the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf coast, near the WA border. At the clinic, around 260 babies, toddlers and preschoolers each year receive regular health checks, which includes vaccinations and an assessment of gross and fine motor skills. The team also assesses the kids’ language and communication development.
“This can be done by getting the children to point at pictures, tell us the names of animals, or tell us a story,” explains Kelly Lloyd, the Child Health Nurse in the program. “The books are a really good way to see where they’re at developmentally.”
At their annual “birthday check”, each child is gifted a book from the ILF Book Supply Program. Books featuring crabs and crocs, which the kids can readily relate to, have proved extremely popular!
“Word is getting out that the kids get a book when they come in [for their health checks] so it’s really helping us establish good relationships with families and the communities,” says Kelly.
The child health nurses also take the opportunity at the health checks to talk to the parents about language development and the important role books can play in this.
“We encourage them to read the books with the kids or even just to turn the pages and look at the pictures and tell their own stories. We hope this starts a positive relationship with literacy and continues on to preschool … We absolutely love getting the books. It’s a fantastic selection.”