When Zoe Smith, a Speech Pathologist at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress in Alice Springs, NT first heard about ILF’s Book Supply program she thought it was “almost too good to be true”.
Before she began ordering books from us in 2018, Zoe and her team used the same few books over and over again with the children and families they were seeing, topping up the supply from time to time if they could manage it with a few new titles.
Congress — as it’s known — is a large medical and allied health service for Aboriginal people living in the town itself as well as in the outlying remote Communities of Ntaria, Utja, Lyentye apurte and Mutitjulu. The health workers make regular visits to several outstations that are 30 kilometres or so out of Alice Springs, taking some of the books with them.
Kelly says the books gifted by ILF have been making a real difference for the children she sees for speech and occupational therapy.
“The books are used every single day. Almost every session with a child and its parents or carers starts with a ‘book share’.”
As part of their strategies for building children’s language development, the speech pathologists also provide take home packs of books from ILF to each child who comes to the service.
“Very rarely do they have books at home … Providing families with books is the best part,” Zoe says. “Knowing there’s the back up of resources at home … And the kids get really excited about choosing a selection of books from the cupboard where they are kept.”
The books have helped the children not only to learn language and storytelling, but also “to the concepts of books, writing and reading”.
The speech pathologists help the kids with their choice of books to ensure that what they take home is appropriate for both their age and stage of development. But, she adds, some of the youngsters do have their firm favourites! Which could be books featuring dinosaurs, or books about the footy, or about ‘going out bush’.
“Their needs and interests are really varied.”
That said, most of the children, especially the younger ones, also tend to love any of the books with repetitive text — and they quickly learn to anticipate what comes next in the story!
“The books are amazing … and used so widely. We really do appreciate it!”