Indigenous Literacy Day: Getting Great Books into Remote Communities
As a child who grew up surrounded by books, and often spent more time in fictional worlds than the real one, it’s difficult to imagine a life without them. But for many children, particularly those in remote Aboriginal communities, this is a sad reality.
Did you know:
- Only 1 in 5 kids in a NT remote community can read at an acceptable level
- Only 40% of Aboriginal children are at school until year 12
- Less than 36% of people in remote communities have access to a library and books*
But the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) wants to change this. Founded in 2004 by Suzy Williams, ILF is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to:
raise literacy levels and improve the lives and opportunities of Indigenous children living in remote and isolated regions.
It seeks to do this through:
- Early exposure to quality books via the supply of books
- Translation of books which represent both English and the children’s first language
- Encouraging story writing and development of community stories by publishing in the children’s first language as well as English
Writers such as Alison Lester, Andy Griffiths, Anita Heiss and Kate Grenville have already thrown their support behind ILF by becoming ambassadors, as has AFL legend Michael O’Loughlin and others. But ILF receives no government funding and needs greater community support.
Check out the organisation’s website, and consider participating in The Great Book Swap at your school, or the Get Caught Reading campaign. Both activities are a fun way to raise awareness and funds for ILF, so that they can put great books into the hands of kids who most need it.
Thinking about Indigenous Literacy Day has also caused me to consider how pitifully few Aboriginal writers, poets and songwriters I have read/listened to in recent years. As Luke Pearson, founder of IndigenousX, tweeted recently:
The problem is not that Indigenous people are ‘voiceless’, the problem is that Australia chooses not to listen.
I’d like to change that – starting with me. So in recognition of Indigenous Literacy Day this Wednesday, 3 September 2014, I am asking:
- Who are the Aboriginal voices – writers, poets, songwriters – I should be reading/listening to?
- Is there a particular book, poem or song that is especially significant to you?
* (Statistics from the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) website)