Happy Indigenous Literacy Day!

Indigenous Literacy Day 2016.

Indigenous Literacy Day 2016.

Wednesday 7 September marks Indigenous Literacy Day 2016 hosted by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation to raise awareness of the need to improve literacy rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

'The goanna was hungry'.

‘The goanna was hungry’, 2016 ILF publication.

The National focus will be on Sydney with a huge event at the Sydney Opera House. ILF Ambassadors Justine Clarke, Josh Pyke, Deborah Cheetham, Andy Griffiths, Richard Flanagan, Alison Lester and school children from the remotest communities in Australia will be in attendance. One of the highlights will be the launch of ILF’s latest publication, The Goanna Was Hungry, a delightful book written and illustrated by children from Tjuntjuntjara, Mt Margaret and Menzies remote schools, along with Ann James and Sally Morgan.

Cooktown Library signage new books.

Cooktown Library signage new books.

One of the spin offs from Indigenous Literacy Day is exploring the range of books by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors and storytellers. State Library collections hold an extensive range of books, stories and other writings; many of these are ‘tagged with Indigenous Literature to make them more discoverable. For teachers seeking out reading material for their classrooms, additional ‘tags’ highlight links to the Australian Curriculum: English with further links to identify year levels. There is even a ‘tag’ for Indigenous Literacy Foundation which highlights their work and a newly added ‘tag’ for Indigenous Literacy Day!

2016 black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship winners.

2016 black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship winners.

Items include books by well-known authors such as Boori Pryor and Anita Heiss as well as emerging writers supported through the black&write! initiative. Popular stories include Boori’s My Girragundji, Shake a Leg and The Binna Binna Man; while Anita’s books include children’s stories, chick-lit and non-fiction works for adult readers. Dr Anita Heiss is one of  several authors who are Ambassadors for the Foundation.

Henry's Toe.

Henry’s Toe, by Norah Nona.

One of State Library’s innovative projects has been the digitisation of 78 readers known as PCAP Readers – this initiative was part of the Priority Country Area Program in the late 1980-1990’s period. Students in rural and remote communities became authors and developed their own storybooks for use in the classroom. These were added to the One Search online catalogue and include bilingual texts. As well as exploring Indigenous literature, schools are also encouraged to bring Indigenous literature alive by hosting Indigenous authors-in-residence.

Cape Treasures.

Cape Treasures.

Further community-based initiatives that bring the world of books and literacy to children in remote communities include Cape Treasures, a collection of animations/group stories by children from four communities in Cape York; and Stories Under Tagai, where IKCs worked with Elders to share and document digital stories of Tagai from across the Torres Strait.

Boori Pryor reading 'Shake a Leg', Normanton Library.

Boori Pryor reading ‘Shake a Leg’, Normanton Library.

Indigenous Literacy Day also has a serious element that looks at practical support to bring literacy to remote Indigenous communities. According to Karen Williams, Executive Director of the ILF, “The Indigenous Literacy Day is our main fundraising event, and we want more schools and businesses to sign up each year. People love to share their favourite books and organising a book swap is a way to help us continue to increase literacy levels in remote Indigenous communities across Australia.” [Source: ILF Website]

Schools, communities, libraries and workplaces are encouraged to host their own fundraising events, including book swaps. Further details on organising a book swap can be found on The Great Book Swap website.

The Great Book Swap.

The Great Book Swap.

Hope you have a great Indigenous Literacy Day, whether it involves taking part in the fund-raising aspects such as ‘The Great Book Swap’ or exploring the writing and stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors!


Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, Queensland Memory

SLQ Indigenous Languages Webpages


Further Reading/Information

Indigenous Literacy Foundation website: http://www.indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au/

The Great Book Swap website: www.greatbookswap.org.au/


State Library of Queensland

The State Library of Queensland has a range of projects and activities that support Indigenous literacy, including the following.

black&write!: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/awards/blackwrite

Cape Treasureshttp://www.slq.qld.gov.au/resources/atsi/contemporary-stories/cape-treasures

Libraries for Literacy: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/about-us/corporate/publications/planning/libraries-for-literacy

ReTold: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/resources/atsi/contemporary-stories/retold

Stories Under Tagaihttp://ikc.org.au/stories-under-tagai/

Virtual Bookshttp://www.slq.qld.gov.au/search/eresources/ebooks/virtual-books#atsi