In the outer islands of the Torres Strait, there are no bookshops, hardly any libraries and very few books in homes. But island by island, books from our Book Supply program are making their way into kids’ lives.
Speech language pathologists based at Tagai State College on Thursday Island regularly visit 17 campuses across the Strait, working with school children whose speech and language development is delayed. They meet with the families and encourage parents to read with their kids, stressing that they don’t necessarily need to read every page of every book, and that looking at the pictures and talking about what they depict is in itself valuable. The families respond very well, says Dayle Bates, Speech Language Pathologist.
“The books are a great way to encourage interaction and language development … By gifting books to families, we have been able to have discussions about the importance of reading to children.”
During home visits to families of pre-school age children, our books are also helping prepare 3-to 5-year-olds for when they start school. Torres Strait Creole (Yumplatok) is the first language on most of the islands, with traditional languages like Kala Lagaw Ya and Meriam Mir also spoken. These languages are used in the playground, while classroom teaching is in Standard Australian English, a second or third language for many of these kids.
Image credit: Photocall.com.au