When books from our Book Supply arrive at the preschool at Maningrida College in Arnhem Land, the staff are never short of help with the unpacking of the books.
“There’s such excitement when the books arrive,” says Michelle Eddy, one of the preschool teachers. “The mums and kids love opening the boxes.”
The preschool has been receiving books from our Book Supply program for just two years, but already the teachers have noticed the impact they’re having. They created an outdoor reading space where they read to the kids each day. Now the kids are heading for the books at other times as well.
“We often see them looking through the books [out on the mat] and talking in their first language about the pictures with other kids. And if the books aren’t out on the mats, the parents often ask where they are.”
Twenty-five different languages are spoken in the Maningrida area, with Barada and Ndjebbana being the main ones. Many of the kids in the pre-school speak two to three languages, but not English.
The staff encourage pre-reading skills among the youngsters, such as how to hold a book and turn the pages carefully so as not to tear them.
“Laying strong foundations in first language is so important, and the books have really helped with oral language development,” Michelle says. “Our Dingo Ernie [by Molly & Aliya Ridley-Davison and Dub Leffler] has especially been a big hit!”
As part of its transition-to-school program, the preschool is hoping to implement buddy reading next year, with older kids from the primary school reading to the pre-schoolers.
“It’s nice to have such a wide variety of books available. [ILF Book Supply] is a fabulous and worthwhile program. It’s of incredible benefit to children in remote communities.”