Indigenous Literacy Day 5 September 2018


Wednesday 5 September is Indigenous Literacy Day. There is a dual focus for the day; a national celebration of Indigenous culture, stories, language and literacy; as well as raising awareness of the need to improve literacy levels among Indigenous children.

Gudaa Bula Dyugi-dyugi.

In terms of celebrating Indigenous literature, State Library collections hold a diverse range of items from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors, writers, storytellers, etc.  The above image depicts a Guugu Yimithirr book Gudaa Bula Dyugi-dyugi (The Dog and the Chook) written by Lillian Bowen, teacher at Hope Vale State School – Pama Language Centre also has language activity sheets to accompany the text.

Gudjal book of animalsJUV 499.15 SAN

Many of these are ‘tagged’ in the One Search catalogue to make it easier – the extract below is a selection of the 350+ items ‘tagged’ as Indigenous literature featuring texts authored by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers.

One Search – ‘Indigenous Literature’ tag.

Many of these are bilingual texts featuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. These include bilingual texts dating back to the 1970’s when several bilingual programs were in place across Cape York and the Torres Strait as well as contemporary publications and virtual books.

Pama Language Centre books.

A great initiative has been Pama Language Centre’s work with local language custodians to produce community-based resources. Their publishing arm has created several books in Mpakwithi, Guugu Yimidhirr with other language books currently in production.

Yakanarra Song Book.

One of the priorities for ILF is to the promotion of readers in first languages. Book Buzz is an early literacy program based on research that shows children’s learn best in their own language. One such project resulted in the Yakanarra Song Book (image above), a collection of 10 Walmajarri songs and 4 English songs created by children of Yakanarra Community School.

ILF Create Initiative publications.

ILF also coordinates Create Initiative, a community literacy project which connects young Indigenous women at Tiwi College with authors and publishers to create (produce stories), cultivate (build knowledge) and motivate (grow self-esteem).  Three of the publications from this project can be seen above with others in the pipeline.

Silly Birds by Gregg Dreise. JUV A823.4 DRE

Authors involved in this innovative project include Gregg Dreise, Anita Heiss, Alison Lester, Jared Thomas – many of their published works can be found in State Library collections.

Buy a book, fill a shelf.

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) coordinates a range of fundraising events across Australia to raise urgently needed funds to put books into the hands of families in remote communities. Their latest fundraising campaign to be launched on Indigenous Literacy Day is Fill a Bookshelf which aims to raise $300,000 to help us gift 30,000 new books to schools and service organisations in remote communities where books are scarce.

Indigenous Literacy Day.

On their website, ILF encourages schools, communities, booksellers, businesses and others to be participate in a number of ways:

  • Hold a Great Book Swap
  • Donate a percentage of your product sales on this day – very popular for bookshops!
  • Make a donation through our website
  • Hold a literacy event such as a book launch or storytelling session
  • Take an ILF donation box to work or school
  • Buy an ILF t-shirt for your staff or students to wear to work or school
  • Hold your own fundraising event
  • Advocate for ILF on social media and tag @IndigenousLiteracyFoundation on Facebook and @IndigenousLF on Twitter

Help close the literacy gap.

The work of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation is valuable and deserves your support in closing the literacy gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – for further details on Indigenous Literacy Day and suggestions for how you can support their fundraising and other efforts, visit the Indigenous Literacy Foundation website.


Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, kuril dhagun

State Library Indigenous Languages Webpages


Note: additional content in this post is drawn from the Indigenous Literacy Foundation website.


References and Further Reading

First 5 Forever website

Indigenous Literacy Foundation webpage

Pama Language Centre online shop

State Library of Queensland Virtual Books webpage