What does it mean to give the gift of reading?

What does it mean to give the gift of reading?

In cities and towns, we have the privilege of having libraries and bookstores to read different types of books whenever we need.

But for kids growing up in remote areas, there is often a lack of books. And for the books that do exist, they often do not reflect the lives and cultures of First Nations peoples.

The ILF was created to combat this problem, to provide culturally relevant books to children living in remote Communities because we believe that reading opens doors to future opportunities and choices. It is a navigation skill that helps people to navigate the world around them. 

Through the ILF’s Book Supply program, we have a panel of experts that select new packs of books each year, which are organised into categories; Toddlers, Kids, Big Kids and Community. In 2023, we couldn’t believe the demand for these packs and as a result, delivered 116,400 books to 424 Communities, with over 50% of titles being by First Nations authors and illustrators. 

The ILF works with over 400 Communities across Australia. Photo by Wayne Quilliam in Broome.

Through our Book Buzz program, the ILF works with playgroups to provide kits to support children aged 0-5. These kits include both books and literacy resources to support the children to develop pre-literacy skills. We are currently working with 116 playgroups, and are aiming to strengthen these relationships, launch our new Can You Dance Book Buzz kit, and grow our reach with playgroups in NSW and across Australia in 2024. 

One of ILF's Book Buzz playgroups in Broome. Photo: Wayne Quilliam

Our Translation Project is a newer ILF program, where we obtain the rights to translate popular titles such as Where’s The Green Sheep, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Say Goodnight, and many others. These titles allow children to hear stories in their own language, strengthening identity and encouraging reading. 

The ILF has translated The Very Hungry Caterpillar into six languages, and we are working on five more!

The importance of books in First Nations languages is also reflected in our Community Publishing program. Through Community Publishing, Communities can write and illustrate their own stories, in the languages of their choice, and the ILF publishes these stories and gifts them back for the entire Community to enjoy. They can also decide if they would like the book to be non-commercial or commercial and available for the wider public to enjoy. 

In 2023, we published 12 books representing eight different First Nations languages, and we are hoping to publish another 30 titles representing 21 languages in 2024. Having a book in your own language, that reflects your Community, Country, culture and identity, enhances literacy and preserves culture for generations to come. Many books are written to honour Elders and ancestors, and many are written to preserve and enhance First Language use in Community. Children and young people are more likely to read if the books relate to them. 

No Way Yirrikipayi was written by students from the Milikapiti School on the Tiwi Islands, with ILF Ambassador Alison Lester.

The ILF is also honoured to run workshops such as the CREATE program and Pamela Lofts Bequest workshops.

These programs mentor young people from remote Communities to write and illustrate stories, and also incorporate digital literacy.

Students from Tiwi College attended the CREATE workshop in Darwin, NT, and wrote 'Tiwi Seaons with Marius'!

A donation to the ILF this festive season supports us to continue these programs in 2024 and well into the future. Our hope is that we can set-up the infrastructure for Communities to be able to continue writing, publishing and sharing stories without us in the future.

We receive no government funding, which allows us to plan our programs years ahead and maintain sustainable investment in remote Communities. 

Please give the gift of reading this festive season by supporting our 2023 Festive Appeal

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Written by Ella Schofield

  • Posted 22 November, 2023

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