In and around the NT town of Katherine, health workers are modelling ways that parents can enjoy reading board and cloth books with their babies.
Wurli-Wurlinjang Family Partnership Program set up this service for new mothers just three years ago, and it reaches families in Katherine township as well as the outlying communities of Kalano, Rockhole and Binjari.
At the moment, Wurli-Wurlinjang is working with 14 new mothers and their babies.
“We have a number of new mums currently accessing our program,” says Nurse Supervisor Bridgette Hutchinson. “Our team role models how to read books with young babies at home.”
The books, gifted by the ILF, include interactive and sensory books, as well as lots of books about animals, all of which Bridgette says the little ones really love.
“The children are given books when they reach certain age milestones.”
Babies receive books at 12 and 24 months of age, and their siblings also are given age-appropriate books on their birthdays.
“The books are really well chosen. None of them go to waste … They encourage parents to connect with our service. The books also encourage parents to read to their children and the value of reading and writing. And the children love them.”
Wurli-Wurlinjang also distributes books at community events, like the annual sports day at Kalano community.
“We take the books out there, set up a table and the older kids can choose a book to take home.”
These kids, many of whom speak Kriol or Jawoyn as their first language, really identify with the books written by Indigenous authors, Bridgette explains.
“Having Indigenous content is great because the kids can relate to the stories and feel empowered. This is especially true if the books are from a local author, such as Moli det bigibigi (Molly the Pig by Karen Manbulloo). The kids know the real life Molly so are excited to see her story in a book.”
Wurli-Wurlinjang orders from ILF’s Books 4 Toddlers, Books 4 Kids, Books 4 Big Kids and Books 4 Community lists, which means the books reach all ages in these remote communities.
“Having a good selection means the books are picked up by all age groups…We give them out according to what’s appropriate. The books are very well used - they’re awesome books that are very appreciated by all.”
Moli det Bigibigi (Molly the Pig by Karen Manbullo) can be ordered online here.