Over the past two years, boxes of books from our Book Supply Program have found their way to Kununurra, Halls Creek, Warmun, Kalumburu and many other remote communities in the East Kimberleys of WA.
The Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Service works with families and young people in this region, promoting healthy lifestyle choices. A particular focus is on establishing safe spaces where family members can sit down for a while and read to the kids.
“The books are not only about literacy development but are a wonderful way of individuals connecting,” says Jo Warren, one of the health workers. “It is so important to have books in homes and community settings. They are a really good tool for engagement.”
The service promotes the idea that reading is an enjoyable thing for families and individuals to do, together or alone.
“You can sit down under shady tree and have some time out with a book,” says Jo.
What’s more, seeing adults reading provides a great role model for kids.
“The children and adults are very excited to see such wonderful books, and are keen to engage with the text and ‘read’ the books or have them read for them.”
Often nannas [grandmothers] come along to events organised by the service, such as for NAIDOC Week in July, and will end up “taking home books for their grannies [grandchildren]”.
“Oh yeah,” they’ll say, “this book would be great for …”
Jo says books with Indigenous content are always popular in the communities, and are proving very validating. At times some of the men too will pick books up and browse. They’re always delighted when they’re told they can take them home.
“To be able to give a gift in itself is a wonderful thing, but for that gift to be a book is even better.”