One week last term, the kids at Mornington Island State School got a big surprise at their school assembly when each of them received a book of their own to take home. The books had been gifted to the school by way of our Book Supply program.
“They were thrilled,” says Kate Stasser, Head of Curriculum (Primary). “And what was really lovely was just afterwards seeing an older brother reading to his little sister.”
Mornington Island is in the Gulf of Carpentaria. There are 276 students enrolled in years K to 10 at the school, and all but six of them are Indigenous.
When the boxes of “beautiful books” arrived on the island, Kate made plans for distributing them. Some books have boosted the school’s library stock. Others are used for “student of the week” prizes. On “open classroom” days, when families are invited in to see their children’s schoolwork, more books are gifted. And any board books are delivered to the local playgroup for the babies and toddlers in the community to enjoy.
“I took the immediate approach of getting as many books as possible directly into homes,” Kate explains. “The parents on the island want to be able to read with their kids but it’s not easy for them to access books. There’s no public library, and no shop that sells books. And to order books, you need a credit card, which most families here don’t have.”
The teachers at Mornington have been “very impressed” by the diverse selection of books, including chapter books which allow stronger readers to develop their literacy skills further. And apart from perennial favourites, like The Guinness Book of Records, Silly Birds (by Gregg Dreise) Where’s Wally? (by Martin Handford), the kids also love Bronwyn Bancroft’s illustrated books and others by Indigenous authors depicting animals the island kids are familiar with like fish, turtles, dugong and sharks.
“Their connection to Country is very strong, and weekends are spent going out bush with family to fish and go hunting. So seeing these images in the books always promotes great conversation.”