Earlier this year we were thrilled to have four young students from Milikapiti school in the Tiwi Islands visit us at the Opera House to perform their fun crocodile tale No Way Yirrikipayi to mark Indigenous Literacy Day. On November 2 our founder Suzy Wilson, travelled out to Milikapiti School for the community launch of this beautiful book, Suzy describes her visit;
One of the most exciting things about launch day in Milikapiti was watching how much the kids loved engaging with all the books in the bush library. Even the four year olds were very familiar with popular texts such as ‘Dear Zoo’ and were reading along with me. There was a fair bit of laughing when I attempted some Tiwi words in a reading of No Way Yirrikipayi.
One boy thought that there was something wrong with my mouth that I couldn't get the pronunciations quite right. It highlighted how effortlessly bilingual and linguistically talented these kids are—at least compared to me!
The other great joy of this visit was seeing kid's real pride in being part of the publication of a beautiful book. The impact of the book on the community was palpable. Pride, joy and a sense that this book offered a bridge between two cultures. There were more hunting stories told, and there was more laughing about we whities who never get to go hunting.
When I have read this book in urban communities to urban kids, the response is one of disbelief. Are there kids who really go hunting on the weekends in this country? Then another real strength of this book emerges as you realise that it opens the window for urban kids to begin to get a sense of Indigenous culture. Hopefully we will soon see No Way Yirrikipayi on library shelves across Australia.
I felt so proud at the launch of this foundation's work in bringing this book to publication, and very grateful that Alison Lester has so generously shared her vast talents with the Tiwi children to draw out from them a story which authentically reflects their experience, their world.
The launch which highlighted how every child in the school has learned to read this book which belongs to them, was a terrific celebration of reading, of literacy.
To see this launch action view a video here