Wednesday 4 September is Indigenous Literacy 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.
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation has a range of projects and activities to support literacy development; one of the most popular being the development of community created texts featuring local languages. The above image shows one such text Yakai! Beibigel! [Baby girl! Stop!] a Kriol book from the Katherine region.
In the International Year of Indigenous Languages, celebrations at the Sydney Opera House will feature students from Nhulunbuy Primary School reading and performing in their home language of Yolngu Matha. Alongside the students will be ILF ambassadors Justine Clarke, Alison Lester, Josh Pyke, Natalie Ahmat and Gregg Dreise.
Gregg Dreise will be one of the authors featured in State Library’s upcoming Jarjum exhibition which opens on 19 October. His stories draw upon his life experiences as a Kamilaroi-Yuwaalaraay man from South-West Queensland. The image above shows a selection of his books, many of which feature birds which also happens to be State Library’s Word of the Week!
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. These and other texts by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers are ‘tagged’ in the One Search catalogue – currently, over 350+ items ‘tagged’ as Indigenous literature. The image above shows a snippet from One Search results.
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation has three core programs as shown in the above image. Book Supply entails gifting communities culturally appropriate books to engage readers; Book Buzz has a focus on early literacy; while Community Literacy Projects involves community created books. A 2014 project involved the republishing of The Legends of Moonie Jarl, a collection of Butchulla stories from Hervey Bay.
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 the ILF 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
- Pre-order a copy of I Saw We Saw for your school or family
- Hold your own fundraising event
- Advocate for ILF on social media and tag @IndigenousLiteracyFoundation on Facebook and @IndigenousLF on Twitter
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.
Indigenous Languages Coordinator, State Library of Queensland
State Library Indigenous Languages Webpages
Jarjum stories: A kuril dhagun showcase focusing on children’s books and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Opens 19 October 2019.
Spoken: celebrating Queensland languages: A major exhibition exploring the survival and revival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages throughout Queensland. Join in the many talks and events to celebrate the rich and diverse languages spoken today. Opens 21 November 2019.
Note: additional content in this post is drawn from the Indigenous Literacy Foundation website.
State Library of Queensland Literacy Initiatives
The State Library of Queensland has a range of projects and activities that support Indigenous literacy, including the following.
References and Further Reading
The following is a selection of children’s books and other texts by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors.
Babia, M. and Day, E. (1989) Torres Strait Picture Dictionary. JUVQ 499.1503 tor
Calley, K. and Bowen, L. (2015) Gudaa bula dyugi-dyugi = The dog and the chook. Q 499.15 CAL
Crombie, J. and Barr-Crombie, J. (2014) Children’s Talking Book [Arluwa-kari wangka thimparda]. JUV 499.15 CRO
Crombie, J. and Barr-Crombie, J. (2018) Looking for Tucker [Murra manilhuku yukarnda]. JUVQ 499.15 CRO
Dreise, G. (2014) Silly Birds. JUV A823.4 DRE
Dreise, G. (2015) Kookoo kookaburra. JUV A823.4 DRE
Dreise, G. (2016) Mad magpie. JUV A823.4 DRE
Dreise, G. (2019) My culture and me. JUV A823.4 DRE
Jack, P. (2014) Turtle and wallaby : Barun ban Garnjin. Told by Phil Jack; illustrated by Year 2 students at Mornington Island State School. JUV 299.9215 JAC
Jarl, M. (2014) The legends of Moonie Jarl. Retold by Moonie Jarl (Wilf Reeves) ; illustrated by Wandi (Olga Miller). J 398.2 MOO
Kennedy, V. (2017) Amra Niighi Laenae : the boys go walkabout. JUV499.15 KEN
Korkaktain, V. (2008) Minh Nga’an Wichan = Catching fish told & illustrated by Venita Korkaktain. JUV A823.4 KOR
Loogatha, D. (2014) Mission times. By Dolly Loogatha, edited by Cassy Nancarrow; illustrated by Year 9/10 boys at Mornington Island State School. JUV 994.38 LOO
McRobbie, N. (1996) Who’s that Jumbun in the log?JUVQ A823.3 M’RO
Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation (2014) Squid and Rat : a traditional Lardil story. Illustrated by Year 1 students at Mornington Island State School. JUV 299.9215 SQU
Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation (2014) Sugarbag honey bees with Yeren and Balibal : a traditional Lardil story. Illustrated by Year 3 students at Mornington Island State School. JUV 299.9215 SUG
Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation (2014) Two boys and two devils : a traditional Yangkaal story from Forsyth Island. Illustrated by Year 3 students at Mornington Island State School. JUV 299.9215 TWO
Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation (2014) Seagull and Crane : a traditional Lardil story. Illustrated by Year 4 students at Mornington Island State School. JUV 299.9215 SEA
Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation (2014) Moon story : bidibil – gidigil : a traditional Lardil story. Illustrated by Year 7-8 boys at Mornington Island State School. JUV 299.9215 MOO
Peters, G. (2014) Dugong hunting : gendabaliyagu. Told by Gully Peters; illustrated by Year 9/10 boys at Mornington Island State School. JUV 799.27559 PET
Santo, W. & Nancarrow, C. (2006) Gudjal book of animals. JUV 499.15 SAN
Scragg, S. (2010) Retold: A retelling of stories and songs from Myths and Legends of the Torres Strait by Margaret Lawrie. Online access via SLQ
Indigenous Literacy Foundation webpage